Guest Post by Elle from Couple Money.
Getting exposure is a goal of many bloggers. They work hard writing and sharing their thoughts on various topics. Once they achieve a certain size however, growth seems to plateau a bit. They need a bigger platform so to speak and some decide to join a blog network.
Blog networks have different meaning for different people. There are networks that are business focused and the members form a more formal alliance. They share revenue for example. There are networks that are more interest based, with the intention of helping the members grow. The network typically is based around a common niche, such as personal finance. When I’m referring to blog networks in this post, I’m referring to the more informal network
Note from Darren: this is what I’ve previously talked about as Blog Alliances.
Join a Network or Start a Network?
However, for some niches it can be hard to join an established network, as current members have established their brand and they add new bloggers slowly. Understandable for sure, but it can be frustrating.
Starting a blog network is an option, but for many newer bloggers it appears to be daunting. So many blogs have come and gone that it can seem hard to keep everyone focused. Is there a way to start a blog network that can help spread the word of member sites quickly and effectively? Can any group of bloggers start a network and get their best material to a larger audience.
I want to share a case study behind the scenes of a blog network that promotes others and has grown rapidly.
Case Study of Building a Network
Financial Samurai had a post back in January about an Alexa Challenge. It was an open invite to personal finance bloggers to help promote one another and improve their Alexa ranks. It started as an informal gathering of hungry bloggers and in less than 9 months it has become a network of around 100 bloggers.
If you’re willing to work hard and have fun, building a (or revitalizing a stagnant) network is possible. In the spirit of Yakezie, I asked members to share their best tips on building a successful network.
Set a Specific Goal
The wonderful part of this network came about was how it was presented as a challenge. Having a specific metric to measure our efforts helped many to work harder. Competition and camaraderie can go hand in hand.
Develop a Pattern of Cross Promotion
One of the big phrases thrown around was ìselflessly promoting othersî. The idea was to get the word out on each other’s sites and learn from one another. I believe a successful blog network is truly collaborative.
It’s certainly one thing to say you’ll promote each other’s best material, but it’s something else to organize and execute that. How bloggers promote each other in the network varies, but there has to be some strategy behind it.
What are some things that you can do to help promote your network?
Mini Carnivals can be a boost: Submitting to carnivals is something encouraged to new bloggers, but lately it seems to have tapered off in the personal finance niche. The Yazkezie holds a network carnival, with different members signing up to run a small and tight carnival promoting other members’ best posts. It’s a great way for members to discover each other’s sites and to promote favorite posts.
Reciprocate when appropriate: You should never feel pressured to link back to any post just because they linked to you. Sharing great content whether it’s your own or someone else’s is vital to the success of the network. Providing useful material to readers is what will help your site and network to grow.
Some Yakezie members are meticulous and use spreadsheets to keep track of bloggers that have helped them by sharing a link. When the time is right, they are gung-ho with returning the favor. It’s a balancing act to be sure, but it’s worthwhile in the long run.
Make search simple: Yakezie has a tool in the form of a special search page that allows users to quickly check to see which topics have been covered. If your network hasn’t done something similar already, I highly recommend doing so.
Be open to guest posts: Sometimes bloggers get overly possessive about their sites. It’s certainly understandable to want to maintain a certain level of quality on your blog. You can, however, broaden out and still keep the spirit of your blog.
Guest posts are a wonderful way for you to expose readers to other viewpoints and topics. Coordination between bloggers in the network has allowed sites to round out their blog’s scope while promoting other bloggers. It’s a win-win situation.
Mentor Newer Members
When you have new members, it helps to get them quickly on board with the goals of the network and help them maximize content and monetization on their blogs. You can’t expect them to know what more established bloggers know, so mentoring them can beneficial.
Some topics that you can assist one another with include:
- How to handle advertising inquires
- SEO tips that have worked for you
- Blog and logo design feedback and recommendations
With helping newer ones with the above topics, you’re also reviewing your own decisions and may be able to refine the network and blogs.
If you have a blog network established, do you take time helping newer members with their specific goals? Do members volunteer to help one another?
For a network to survive, it has got to keep engaging bloggers and readers. An inactive blog network can become a liability. With a few leaders in the group, though, it can become a great to interact with your online colleagues and your readers.
How about you? Are you part of a blog network already? Do you have plans to start your own?