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How I’m Using Google+ to Create Content and Collaborative Opportunities on my Blogs

Google Plus has been a medium I’ve had a fascination with since Day 1, but it’s taken me a while to work out how to actually use it effectively in my blogging.

I’ve tried a variety of things, including using it as a blog of sorts (making longer posts), for status updates (what I’m doing), as a pseudo-RSS feed (sharing links to posts I’ve written on my blog), looking for great content that others are sharing to reshare, and much more.

But to be honest, I’ve still not found it to “click” with me… All of this work has been good and benefited what I do, but I’ve not felt I’m really using it as effectively as I could be. That was until last week, when I began to realize that sitting right in front of me was an opportunity that I’d not seen before.

The opportunity was not to drive traffic to content on my blog: it was an opportunity to actually help create content for my blog.

Each day as I sit down to G+ I see the most amazing conversations happening. Each day I see ideas, images, and information being shared by remarkable people. G+ is being used by innovative people who are pushing the boundaries.

As an example of this, recently I was marvelling at the beautiful photography of +Elena Kalis on G+. I was completely sucked into her beautiful images and it struck me that I had an opportunity to connect with her and to even shoot her a message. I did, and cheekily asked if she’d be open to being interviewed by me for +Digital Photography School. She agreed and we published that interview a couple of weeks back.

Then, the other day, I was watching a hangout run by +Trey Ratcliff. It was one of his weekly variety hours, and he had his usual array of guests—people who were clever, funny, and creative. Some of them were reasonably well-known, while others were not (but should have been). All were active on G+.

As I sat there watching the conversation, it occurred to me that I was watching a group of five or six potential guest posters for my photography blog. They were people who knew what they were talking about, who could communicate, and who were obviously trying to get their names out there.

I immediately decided to use G+ to send a message to one of them (+Todd Sisson) asking if he’d consider writing a guest post for me. An hour or so later he’d agreed and we’d decided upon a topic. We published that post soon after.

I also shot another message to two other panelists in that hangout that day. One didn’t reply, but I’m now talking about topics for a guest post with the other.

Over the last two weeks I’ve reached out to around ten people on G+, and five are working with me to create content for dPS as guest posters or interviewees. Another just submitted his second post and is keen to contribute regularly. Yet another is talking to us about a potential ebook collaboration.

All of this activity has taken place in private messages on G+. While this could probably be achieved on Twitter or Facebook, the freedom to write more than 140 characters—or to not have to be “friends” to message someone—is certainly a big plus on G+.

While there are many benefits of using G+ to drive traffic, deepen reader interaction, build your profile, and so on, I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the last few weeks by how wonderful a place it has been to build collaborative opportunities and generate content.

How are you using G+, other than to drive traffic to your blog? I’d love to hear about your strategies in the comments.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Candace S. says:

    Found the link to this post via Twitter and I’m so glad I did! I’m always looking to learn more about effectively using Google+ cause I find i’m not just “clicking” either. I never thought of how it can connect me to others and even fuel content for my blog. Thanks for this – I love it.

  2. Samuel says:

    Hey Darren, it was great to read how you’re handling the new social site form Google. I am still trying to fit it in with Twitter and Facebook, since those guys always seem to take my time.

    I think Google+ is much more professional in a way that you can quality traffic from. Just need to find the way to do it..

  3. Trish says:

    I have to say, even though I use G+ occasionally, I’ve been largely unimpressed. I want to be there because it’s another avenue to connect with people, but nothing about it has felt unique to anything else out there. I already connect on Facebook, Twitter, blog comments, etc. Why do I need G+? But you made some excellent points I hadn’t thought of before. I’m going to dig back into it and see if I can make the same kinds of connections you are.

  4. Jarom Adair says:

    I’m not using G+ because I’d never heard of a good reason I should. But if it’s a good medium for introducing yourself to others and hasn’t been over-saturated or abused as some other networks have been (hence the requirement to be friends first etc…) then maybe you’ve given me a good reason to jump on there.

    Thanks for your sharing your epiphany Darren.

  5. Yes! I love your idea!

    I was on G+ since beta, so almost a year now. I have grown from a hobbyist photographer to a professional (it’s still hard to say that, but I’m getting paid, so…) photographer. I even did my first newborn shoot last night, and I’m pinching myself every time people give me money to do what I love to do.

    I have learned more in the last year on G+ about photography than I have in the last 5 years through real life and books. I’m so thankful that someone invited me to G+ and that Lotus shared one of my images early on. Surely my experience with G+ wouldn’t have been the same without that little push.

    Thank you so much for writing about the incredible photographer community on G+.

  6. Darren – I am all in favor of G+ when it comes to social networking. The concept of “hangout” is really cool where you can really connect with your friends and discuss about a particular topic of mutual interest.

    Nice to know and learn how you are using G+ to promote your website and also to find guest writers. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Peter Bower says:

    Darren – I’ve secured a couple of guest blogging gigs via Google+, simply by being around the people who talk about what I like to write about. It’s not that hard, as you say in your post.

  8. Wow thanks Darren for your insight. You are truly a master at blogging and I have been reading you for years.

  9. Keith says:

    I am using it to network locally, we are having a Social Media Club meet up next week and will be recording live via Hangouts On Air. I also network with people in my industry(ies) and find the conversation much higher quality than Twitter/FB could ever get.

    Obviously the photography circles are huge, but if you look there are circles for just about anything you might be interested in…

  10. Like many I suppose, I am still trying to figure out the best way to get the most out of Google+. For me I think the biggest problem is I communicate so much through Twitter that posting the same sort of updates and links on Google+ seems repetitive, or pointless. I get almost no traffic from Google+ compared to the big two (Twitter, Facebook) and I continue to hope that changes in time.

    My biggest problem is reaching new listeners I am not already connected with on Google+. I would guess if I took some time to seek out new people on my own that would help.

    • Fraser Cain says:

      The trick to Google+ is to use it as a fresh start; to seek out the people who share your interests. Darren stumbled into the most active and engaged community on Google+: the photographers, so it’s a really natural fit. But we’re doing some amazing things in astronomy and science, and have built up an active and thriving community.

      Instead of looking to interact with your existing friends on a new platform, seek out a whole new community of people who match your interests. If you love photography, the community is like nothing else on the internet.

    • Anuj says:

      Same Problem is also happens to me When I Share links on google plus then there would be no traffic comes from google plus.

  11. Thanks Darren for sharing this with us. It’s a great way to use Google+
    I like the idea of Google+ over Facebook or Twitter because is a more professional network and less spammy.

    I’m just starting my website and I’m impressed by your achievements contacting people on G+, but for someone just starting like me, do you think I can get feedback from people well established in their business (I don’t want to call them celebrities, the word is too intimidating)?

  12. Mark Thomas says:

    Darren, what’s up with the Google+ share of Plus1 button, or more to the point, the lack thereof?

  13. Phil says:

    I’m a real starter! But the first week I use G+ I found it interesting, pleasantly and lovely. I found interesting things: for my personal use and for my business use.
    I found Hangout a good idea and tool, but I still hadn’t the opportunity to use it completely.
    AND! You’re article is very nice! I loved! =)
    Inspires me to use it more and more…

  14. Like you, Darren, I’ve used G+ for it’s rich source of conversations and unique perspectives as creative juice for my personal blog, my writing projects and also for my publishing company website. The extended conversations I’ve had with some of those in my Circles have been very rewarding creatively and inspirationally.

    You’re right — Elena posts some remarkable photos on G+… entrancing almost. Three people I’d recommend (photography related) I would recommend on G+ for you are — they would be excellent to consider for adding to your Circles or for possible interviews:

    Mikael Sh
    Max Rubenacker
    Louisa Catharine Forsyth

    You can find me at:
    https://plus.google.com/107583042689729744688

  15. It’s nice to see your post here after a stride of guest posts, Darren.

    It’s interesting how you used Google+ but I’m still having a little tough time in getting it to fit somewhere in my social media strategy. Well, I hope it works out somewhat like yours towards the end. :)

  16. Great little article, I’m going to share this story with clients when they ask me to explain what the point of Google+ is (we make video campaigns, but often field these type of questions) it’s great to have stories that demo the potential – Thanks!

  17. Kevin says:

    Some great ideas on how to get the most from the big G+. I’ve ben avoiding it because I had no idea how to even get started. I’ve also had a hard time promoting my online efforts to all of my other social networks. It’s hard to imagine that people I went to high school and college with would care what I’m doing on my blog. Looks like I need to give Google+ a try as well.

  18. Ben Troy says:

    I’ve also been using Google Plus as a way to find, collect and create content,the search features in Google Plus are extremely robust. I can search public posts, posted shared with you, Personal Profiles … to find out what people are searching for and generate useful stuff .

  19. Ann says:

    Thank you, I seem what you mean.

  20. Alex Shaikh says:

    Hey Darren, i like what you wrote in the middle of your article “a big plus on G+” that is correct it is a plus to have a google plus account, i’m still wondering about google plus how it can help me with my website. I get more traffic from Facebook, Twitter even Linkedin but i’m not sure how i can get traffic from G+, i share my article on G+ every time i posted an article on my website. I will come back to your website to see how it goes for you when using G+ to create a content. Wish you best of luck!

  21. Ben Troy says:

    Google Plus is a great place to share links to blog posts and articles– from business and from other sources about your industry, community, or niche in general. Whatever you post, make sure to include a short comment or thought along with the content to make your posts engaging.

  22. Vijay says:

    Frankly speaking, I’m still figuring out a way to get decent traffic from G+
    though I’ve good success with Facebook!!!

  23. Hi Darren,

    We just had the same ‘Ah-ha Moment” over at our site. In fact, we are so excited about the G+ potential, we ended up producing a video tutorial series called “5 Steps to Becoming a Google+ Powerhouse” for our readers. You can see it here: http://www.careerealism.com/how-use-google-plus-career/

    We are launching a web show using G+’s Hangouts feature called, “Career Rehab.”

    Think Shark Tank meets Extreme Makeover!

    Here’s the movie trailer for the launch of the show: http://www.careerealism.com/career-rehab/

    Each week, we’ll be using Google+ Hangouts to have career coaches give hard-hitting, honest advice to a job seeker who is at the end of their rope. In return, the participant will get one full year of career coaching.

    So far, the response has been amazing and we can’t wait to do our first show in two weeks!

    We’ve found Google+ is easier to use than Twitter, has a cleaner visual interface than Facebook, and is better at facilitating conversation with followers than LinkedIn.

    I hope more people fall in love with it like we have!

  24. The bottomline is that G+ had not clicked for me at all – but I am inspired to revisit it…and really start working it more…thanks to this post.

    Thanks for the push.

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

  25. rosemary says:

    This is interesting as I never realized to use google + in that manner I normally use twitter for contacting people so this opens another avenue for me.

  26. Anuj says:

    How google +1 effect our search engine ranking can you explain me

    • Ben Troy says:

      It shows the authority and poppular of the site, If your site receive many +1, the pagerank should increase

  27. I love using g+. but need to spend more time doing so. For our photographer of the month series, we’re finding extraordinary photographers, from around the world (and we could probably do a photographer of the DAY series, there are so many great photogs on g+, as you know). I love promoting the work of our teen travel blogging class there, and they get so happy when i include their name so it shows up in their stream – instant connection – and also teaching them how social media and promotion works.

    But I also love g+ for connecting with others – people whom I would never come across on any of the other social media platforms. It’s FUN!

  28. Tammy Redmon says:

    Thank you for the great breakdown of how you use G+. You have given me a new idea on how to access potential content and/or collaborative work with others. Additionally, I will use it more than just to ‘share’ something I found to be particularly interesting by adding more of the Mini-Blog approach you mentioned by expanding my thoughts from posts.

    Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how SHOCKED I am that you reached out to folks who didn’t reach back! Guess it’s a new way of learning people’s true colors and now you know who to play with and who not to.

    • Lise says:

      Actually, it may just mean that they didn’t get the notification that he has tried to interact with them.
      The notification system on plus can get very buggy sometimes, so I would be careful about judging people too harshly based on that alone.

      (And having said that, I am a total g+ fangirl, so I want everyone on g+ because I am sure that it’ll get fixed)

  29. Joe Unkovic says:

    My opinion – Google+ was a slower start to catch on (compared to other existing social outlets) but is going full steam now. Everyone I know is using it.

    I am just getting started with it.

    But one thing I do know – whatever is posted on there (inside of Google+) gets indexed faster by Google (regardless what Goodle claims).

  30. Michael Tucker says:

    Hi Darren,
    While there have been particular groups who are actively using Google+, it is other people who would not be known that are being found that makes this tool so useful.
    You talk a little about the photographers, but the journalists are the ones who have really pushed the limit switch on what can be done. Hangouts-on-Air came about because of that work done by pioneer journalists looking for more personal engagement with their audience.
    The TV networks are very aware of the changes to their viewing audience, The trend is toward an online viewer-ship. I read often about shrinking income levels for these companies and the recent story about Fairfax Media is a good example of this.
    If you were to ask me about the capacity to be able to stream a story halfway around the world via a hangout from an iPhone, then I can confidently say that I have done this to an amazed audience. Crowd-sourced news will be one big benefit from G+.
    We now have the capacity to put a HD Broadcast Camera into a hangout which definitely opens up the platform to other events and participants. Still with this evolution we will keep pushing the possibilities and making this a very special tool for so many people. YouTube is part of this and is the 2nd largest search engine in the world. To date there are 39,000 #hangoutsonair videos(search-term on YouTube) and this will increase dramatically once the program becomes mainstream. The focus then will be on creating great content rather than 3 minute videos that is the mainstream of the site now, as the hangout videos are up to 3 hours long.

    Same with music. Ask Daria Musk how she got a start on Google+ with a team stringing together hangouts so everyone could listen. Now there are many musicians who play regularly.
    With the photographers, everyone has been raving about Pinterest, but Picassa has the same capacity and the photos seem to be shared a lot more.

    While I still keep a presence on Facebook & Twitter, it is with Google+ that I tend to learn more about things I want to know.

    Combine that with Google Local(Google Places) and it becomes a very powerful tool.

  31. Orang Akaun says:

    I’ve been posting my blog’s link to Google+ but it didn’t really get people attention. But when I post something pictures or gifs, I will get quite a lot +1 and share. Link aren’t so good but somehow I will get some traffic from it.

  32. At first all I did on G+ was post the links to my blog – no traffic ever came from there. Then in April I decided to venture further into the photography community and I’m so glad that I did. I’ve found some many photographers that I would never have found otherwise and many of them have inspired me with their work.

    It’s so much easier to communicate with them without having to wait for slow blog pages to load and for those dreadful captcha things to pounce on you just as you leave a blog comment.

    I never really had much interaction on twitter nor FB but G+ is so different. I’ve already thought of asking a few folk to do guest posts for me and I’ve even considered asking some of them to give me an interview…………..but it all takes time.

    So far I’m browsing on G+ with firefox but others have told me that if I used chrome I would be able to install plugins to make the navigation through G+ even easier.

  33. carol dunlop says:

    I just recently started really using G+ I love the hangouts and use them to simulcast my Living Diet Free group to my radio show, YouTube account and my website, its so Kewl to be able to do that