I spend a lot of time in my day job looking at ways to leverage social media and reach a wider audience. As an aspiring author I can’t help but to notice that this is something that my fellow authors think a lot about too! Obviously, the day will come when I’ll have to reach the masses with a book I hope will sell like hot cakes and building up my audience before that day comes can’t hurt!
So, in the interest of sharing good information with our blog readers and other aspiring authors here’s my running list of a dozen great ways to pimp your blog!
- HAVE A CLEAR PURPOSE – Ironically it’s pretty hard. Many authors (me included) tend to treat our blogs like a hodgepodge of notations, a steady stream of randomness that greatly resembles our heads and desks more than something clearly defined. In fact, some of us write for other authors more than for our readers and while it’s good to build a support network… if your goal is to get more readers then you’re misfiring out the gate.Look, if you tuned into your favorite TV show and saw this each week and the premise was constantly changing, you’d probably stop watching. It’s the same with a blog; a good blog contains content that is of interest to the people its owner wants to reach. For writers, that’s probably your reader base. So, ask yourself this: What’s my blog trying to do? What is it people should be here to read/learn/experience?
- BE YOUR READER’S FRIEND – most people don’t go to read a list of facts (unless they are hunting for tips and tricks) as humans we LOVE stories, identify with stories, and are a lot more likely to share the stories which make an impact on us. As an author, what greater compliment can there be than someone sharing something you’ve written? In your blog you might not be sharing fiction, maybe it’s about how you cope as a stay-at-home-mom/author … maybe it’s something different. Whatever you’re blog’s PURPOSE (see #1) is, your life is bound to be full of stories about it. And, if you find yourself stumped when writing a blog (more than occasionally that is) then maybe you’re approaching the blog from the wrong direction? Don’t believe me? Consider this, when you sit down to talk with your best friend – do you have problems finding things to talk about? Nope. Your friend is your audience in that case and you KNOW what to say to them… what they want to hear… what will impact them. You need to be friends with your readers/target market.
- SHOUT OUT TO YOUR PEEPS – so, like you, the people who read your blog (your target market) wants to be seen. As humans we have this need to be recognized and if you’re not doing that for your readers in some way, and when we are we feel validated and important. We remember and go back to the places and people who make us feel validated and important. Think about how you are at restaurants and shopping centers. Which stores do you go to most? Those which give you something whether that’s great customer service (they call you by name, remember things about you etc) or it’s killer sales and deals that say they want you as a customer and they want you to bring your friends too! So be gracious in giving back to your readers.WAYS TO DO THAT: Reply to their comments (at least for two weeks after you initially make a post), give freebies, link to their blogs, comment on their blogs (some of these you’ll see below) but most of all be sure they know just how much you appreciate that they took time to comment or share your post!
- POST GOOD. POST OFTEN – Posting daily won’t work. Posting a good post every couple months won’t work either. You don’t need to be crazy about it but readers need to have an idea when they can expect to hear from you so they want to come back and so that search engines don’t think your blog has gone dormant. Posting regularly and posting QUALITY content is the #1 best thing you can do to grow your blog.
- OPTIMIZE. — What does this mean? Does it mean you need to hire a company to do keywords for you or whatever SEO is? Will it cost you hundreds of dollars that a broke author just doesn’t have? NO! You can optimize your blog for search engines (search engine optimization is what SEO stands for btw) by following the advice of about a million or so bloggers out there. Some easy ways include making sure you use good tags (read about what a good tag is on those SEO blogs) and make sure your readers have a lot of ways to subscribe so you don’t lose someone just because they can’t follow your blog the way they want to, arrange your blog to show more content on the front page so readers get a wide variety of what you have to offer (just make sure it’s neat and easy to navigate), make sure people are encouraged to go to related posts after reading the one they surfed into first and create a big NEXT POST button for the bottom of each post to keep them reading. You might also ask readers for content ideas, you can do this by adding a quick survey feature to your blog like the ones from Qeryz. And be sure to allow comments because this is how readers become engaged. It’s how you build a relationship with them and grow your target-market-community.
- Socialize – You’re not just building a soap box to talk from when you start a blog (though many blogs out there feel that way) you’re wanting a community. To build any good community you need to start with friends. To make friends you need to leave your house (ie: you can’t sit on your blog and cry, “why is no one finding me!”) this means going to other people’s blogs and connecting with them. Chat it up on Twitter and Facebook, comment on people’s blogs first so they want to know more about you. Don’t just say “good post” or similar spam – write meaningful stuff. Like grandma use to say “if you don’t’ have something nice to say – say nothing at all.” Well it’s true!And for the love of all things fluffy, don’t just link spam. Most blogs allow your picture or user name to link to your website so you don’t need to include a link in your comment. Nothing screams “I’m only here to recruit you as a fan of my page” more than a link to your page. I mean, think about it, if your next door neighbor came over to your house and introduced themselves, got friendly and then shoved their amway card down your throat and started hard selling you on the benefits of multi-level sales… would you really think he/she is there to be your friend or to sell you something? And, would you go to their BBQ next week – or just assume it’s another chance to market to you?Yea, I wouldn’t go either.
- OMG FREEBIES! — Freebies are only as good as the work you put into marketing them SO don’t just put a link up on your page and wait for everyone to come flocking in… and no, posting about it on facebook isn’t enough either. Let’s face it, social media reaches only a portion of those following you and if you assume only a fraction of the people who actually see your ad will follow it (and only a fraction of your followers got to see it to begin with) that means you’re actually getting very few people coming to your freebie give-a-way. So… you need to get out of your usual spaces and spread the word. Offer to blog for others. Post to communities which are relevant to your target market (are your readers moms? Why not check out mom communities like babycenter or cafemom for places to chat up your potential readers and offer them freebies!) Believe me, if you’re offering stuff your target market wants, they won’t keep quiet about it. You just have to let them know.
- CROSS PROMOTE — It’s one thing to blog for someone else and many times the best bloggers are too busy to write a blog for your page (though that can’t hurt) but they might have time to answer some questions. If someone is considered an expert in their field as a blogger, why not ask them what their best advice or worst experience is? Collecting a series of these short answers can create great blogging fodder and then when you use their quote or advice be sure to let them know so they can inform their readers that you are talking about them! BOOM! You’ve just reached a whole new group of potential readers! Then, be sure to return the favor when someone asks you to do so!
- MAKE IT SHORT, PRETTY, AND FUN – How many posts have you scrolled past today without clicking the link or maybe even really reading the text? Just guess. Was it 100? 1000? You’re not different than the people in your target market. If you want people to click through social media to your blog you need to post things that you’d click… and more importantly, things you’d share. If you are looking at your amazing picture, your short snippy words, and you’re ready to hit “send” on that post… just ask yourself, “Would I stop to read this? Would I share it?” If not… figure out why and fix it.
- YOUR READERS HAVE QUESTIONS & YOU HAVE ANSWERS – go around the net to sights like Yahoo! Answwers, Quora, and even Klout and answer questions that relate to not only your area of expertise but to the target market you’re seeking to reach! Trying to reach stay-at-home moms because your books are of interest to them? Why not share what you know?!? Just trust me, there are a MILLION or more questions out there about every topic imaginable and you can add your two cents (and link to your blog) establish yourself as an expert in your field and before long your target market will be googling your name and your blog.
- GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE – I know this isn’t easy, but it’s a great way to build real relationships. Go out into the world. Speak at conventions and libraries… go to the places where people are and shake their hands. Say hello and make friends. Host a writing circle or a book club. Share your interests and passion with others and invite them to follow you online. One person who is a rabid fan is work 1,000 followers who only occasionally click. A rabid fan will promote for you and you NEED these types of people on your team if you’re going to be huge.
- HELP THEM FIND YOU – It can’t hurt to add your blog to directories such as ezine Articles, Hub pages, bloghub and Fuel my blog. These places are always the most go-to so we don’t think of them first but trust me they do get traction and are seen by google so why not get yourself in the system.
Hopefully these tips and tricks will have your blog pimped out in no time! Let me know how it goes.