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Using Local Newspapers to Promote Your Blog Offline

This mini guest post is from Harry Maugans the co-founder and lead developer for Desktop Nexus.

One of the biggest problems for local newspapers is finding things to write about.

Email or call 5-10 of your closest local newspapers and explain you have an explosive new website that will revolutionize the industry you’re in. Make sure you emphasize you’re local, and build it in or near their coverage area. In my case, I’m touting my wallpaper site as the next YouTube- the next huge community oriented around desktop backgrounds, and while that might be a bit extreme, it catches the newspapers attention.

Nine times out of ten, local papers will run this story: “Local Hometown Internet Entrepreneur Ignites Revolution in Wallpapers.” (of course different for your particular situation). Also, a surprising number of local papers are considered authority sites by Google, so a backlink from them would give your SEO rankings a nice boost.

Finding Readers for Your Blog – What We Wish We Knew

Finding-Readers

This post is part of the ‘What we wish we Knew’ Series. In this post I’ll share readers comments on the topic of finding readers for a blog as well as some of my own experiences and advice.

We’ve talked about setting your blog up right (hosting, domains and platforms), making money from blogs and writing great content – but while all of these things are important to think through, they are somewhat useless unless you have readers stopping by to engage with your content.

It’s no wonder then that the most common question I’m asked is ‘how do I find readers for my blog’.

As with all of the topics we’re looking at this week, how to find readers is something that will vary from blog to blog significantly. But if I had to identify a top 5 things that I’ve learned on the topic over the last 5 years I’d summarize it like this:

1. Know Who You Want to Attract

When I was a younger single guy a wise friend gave me a valuable piece of advice for finding a life partner. He said – ‘Darren, write a list of what you’re looking for in a partner’. He went on to explain that when you define what you want in life you’re more likely to spot it when it comes by your way. You’ll also be more likely to know where to go looking for it. Read more on defining what type of reader you want and going after them.

While I’m not sure my friend would have expected his advice to turn up in a post about how to attract readers to your blog – I think there’s some truth to it. I wish now that I’d spent more time in the early days of blogging thinking about my reader (or potential reader).

2. Build Community

While I will always argue that quality content is essential in drawing readers to your blog I am increasingly convinced that one way to build your readership is to create spaces that people will want to belong to.

Build an interactive space where people feel empowered to add their comments, give readers jobs, give them homework, make your readers famous and create spaces where you step back and let your readers take the lead in showing their expertise and you’ll build a blog that people will want to be a part of and a space that your readers will promote for you. [Read more...]

Place Your Blog on a ‘Busy Intersection’

Steve Remington wrote a good post today that uses the metaphore of roads and intersections to think about blogs. It’s an image that caught my imagination a little. He writes:

“Think of your blog as a virtual business on a road. Your best chance of success is not sitting out in the middle of cyberspace where nobody can find you. Landing your blog in the middle of downtown or on an intersection somewhere will give you many more readers and potential clients.”

Read his full post at Blogs Are Roads; Intersections

I like the imagery of the metaphor and think that there’s some real truth in it. A blogger who simply works on their own blog and doesn’t work to put themselves ‘out there’ on a busy intersection will limit the potential of their blog even if they write great content.

Positioning yourself on a busy intersection or ‘downtown’ means getting involved in your niche, building relationships with other bloggers and becoming part of the places in your niche where the most action is happening.

Why StumbleUpon Sends More Traffic Than Digg

I was digging around in the Google Analytics stats for Digital Photography School this afternoon and did some analysis of some of the most popular pages on the blog over the last month.

One page that has done exceptionally well and continues to bring in reasonable traffic even six weeks after it was written is 11 Surefire Tips for Improving Your Landscape Photography.

The post has had just over 93,000 page views from around 70,000 visitors since I posted i on 18 May. Here’s how the traffic was spread out over this time (you’ll want to click it to enlarge the graph in a new window):

Traffic-1

The Spike – Days 1-7

You can see very clearly that there was a real spike of traffic in the first couple of days. The day after I posted this tutorial hit the popular page on Digg. Here’s how the traffic came in over the first week (i’ve rounded these numbers to the nearest 50):

18 May (the day I posted) – 6,400 page views – largely from direct traffic (via RSS). StumbleUpon generated 405 page views.
19 May – 30,000 page views – 21,000 from Digg, another 2500 from RSS and regular readers, plus another 6000 or so from other sites like Delicious, Popurls and other blogs/sites linking up. StumbleUpon generated 575 page views.
20 May – 6200 page views – Digg sent 1550 of them, another digg like site (Wykop) sent 1200, direct traffic was around 900, other sites still sent a bit and StumbleUpon hit 1050 page views. (note, Google started sending a little traffic on this day).
21 May – 6600 page views – Wykop sent 2500, Digg sent 1100, direct traffic was 700, Google sent 200 and StumbleUpon continued to rise to 1300.
22 May – 3350 page views – Digg was down to 600 page views while StumbleUpon was at 953. Other sites and Google made up the rest.
23 May - 2250 page views – Digg sent 300 page views and Stumbleupon 800. Other sites the rest.
24 May – 2000 page views – Digg sent 150 page views and Stumbleupon generated 550.

OK – so that was the ‘spike’ and while StumbleUpon has generated more traffic than Digg in the last few days – Digg is still the clear winner after the first week:

  1. Digg – 24,410 page views (43% of all traffic to the post for this period)
  2. Direct Traffic – 8634 page views
  3. StumbleUpon – 5599 page views (9.5% of traffic to the post)
  4. Wykop – 4661 page views
  5. Delicious – 2523 page views

The Tail – Days 8-43

It’s usually at this point that a blogger would stop tracking how successful an individual post is going (in fact I tend to lose a little interest after the first 3-4 days) but out of interest today I decided to see what happened to traffic to this post since 24 May. It’s been 5 or so weeks – so how much traffic has the post generated and where did it come from?

Here’s how the traffic graph for this five week period looks (click to enlarge): [Read more...]

More Tips on Getting Unverified Email Subscribers to Confirm their Subscription

Yesterday I wrote a tip on increasing subscriber numbers to your blog that focussed upon those doing it via Feedburner’s RSS to Email feature emailing unverified subscribers to remind them to confirm their subscription.

The post generated quite a few questions via comments and email – to the point that I thought I’d write the answers as a new post. At the end of this post I’ll include a copy of what I emailed to unverified subscribers.

Does feedburner allow it – doesn’t this break their terms of service?

No – I checked this before doing it with feedburner. Actually, to be more accurate, when I emailed Feedburner’s support team with the problem of over 800 unverified subscribers they actually suggested that one solution would be to email them after exporting the subscriber list. I guess that’s an indication that they don’t mind.

Will Feedburner develop a feature that reminds subscribers instead of having to do it manually?

I’ve asked Feedburner this a couple of times now and on both occasions they said that it’s something they are interested in developing. I’m not sure if this is just a standard reply to keep us users happy, or whether it’s something they’re serious about developing but I do think that it would be something that bloggers would appreciate.

Is there a risk of being labeled a spammer?

Sending out so many emails to subscribers might carry some risks with it. My hope is that I wrote the email in such a way as to be perceived as doing my readers a favor. I won’t be emailing unverified subscribers every week and hope that the occasional reminder won’t be looked upon as an unfavorable practice.

[Read more...]

Blogging Tips: First Impressions Count

The following is a guest post by and an excerpt from her popular book, Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

There are several “first impressions” your blog makes as it struggles to attract and hold on to readers. Few of those first impressions come directly from your blog’s design and layout.

Search Engine Results: The first impression most people get of your blog is found within search engine results. They see a post title, blog title, and content excerpts around the keywords of their search terms.

Blog Feed Aggregator: An aggregator is a blog or website which displays titles or post excerpts from various blogs. Aggregators usually list your blog title, post title, and first 100-300 words of your post.

Feed Reader: A feed delivered to a feed reader displays the content as text, with few images, and none of your blog’s design. Depending upon how the feed reader is set, it showcases the blog title, post title, first 100-400 words of your post or the full post content, if the blog owner has set the feeds to full. Typically, the post title and first 100-400 words are the first impression.
[Read more...]

10 Techniques I Used To Go From 0 To 12,000 RSS Subscribers In Seven Months – With No Ads Or Leverage

The following guest post has been submitted by Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar

Hopefully, that title got your attention a little bit, but it’s true. I launched The Simple Dollar at the very end of October 2006. I had no pre-existing blog that I could use to drive early traffic, nor did I have any personal contacts that I could use. I also had zero advertising budget. But by June 2007, I had 12,000 RSS readers and was generating enough traffic that I had to switch hosting plans twice. How did I do it? Here are a few specific techniques that really helped me build my blog’s traffic over time.

1. Lay some groundwork before starting

By this, I mean plan out your blog. What is going to be your topic area? It should be clearly defined, but not too narrow. Who is your target audience? Look at their age, their ethnicity, their nationality, their cultural awareness. You should also establish some goals – I would focus on having initial goals stated in percentages rather than raw numbers. Something like 10% readership growth per month for the first six months is appropriate. Some people miss the value of laying the groundwork for a blog, but if you’re intending to be successful, you need to be very clear on what you are talking about and who you are speaking to.

2. Listen to del.icio.us

The most valuable content that a blogger can create is the type of content that readers want to come back to time and time again and also that they want to share with others. These pieces will continually provide value to you, and the surest way to identify such content is to know how many people have saved a particular post at del.icio.us. I keep track of this by using Feedburner’s site statistics package and enabling the “flare” that shows this information. Posts that have del.icio.us bookmarks are usually the ones I use as guidelines for what works on my blog – if I try something different and no one bookmarks it, I usually realize that it’s a bad idea. I’ve found that time and time again, del.icio.us is the best barometer of good content.

3. Find your community

When you begin blogging, you may feel rather isolated from other bloggers. Try to communicate with other bloggers in your niche just to exchange ideas and build a framework of connections. Don’t initially go for the most popular bloggers in your niche – some of them are often so inundated with contacts that by sheer necessity they have to filter what they respond to. One good way to get started is to find blog carnivals in your topic area and contact the people running these carnivals.

4. Immerse yourself in a social bookmarking site

Many people have a hard time getting their foot in the door with social bookmarking because they just try to use it without giving back. Most social bookmarking sites are a community of people who enjoy interaction and discussion – if you just pop in long enough to toss up some links and then wonder why you’re not successful, you’re simply fooling yourself. If you want to be successful on a social bookmarking site, get involved. I’m involved in several – I post links to both my own articles and to other things and I’m also involved in many discussions on what others submit. Over time, people start checking in on what you submit on those sites and tend to be predisposed to voting them up, which can in the end merit you a lot of legitimate attention.
[Read more...]

What to do with 10 Hours on Your Blog?

reader-questionsRoss asks – What is more important, working on getting more traffic (digg, links from high traffic sites) or working on search engine optimisation? If you had 10 hours to spend on one or the other which would benefit you more?”

I think both strategies can be important for a blog – depending upon it’s life stage. They’re also really linked…

I’m a big believer in getting good SEO principles into play on a new blog from day one so in the very early days I’d work on some SEO above trying to leverage other site’s traffic. However most blog platforms come with fairly decent SEO these days and most of what I’d do on an SEO front after a few basic tweaks is while I’m writing a post (ie good titles, using keywords well etc.

In terms of leveraging traffic from other sites – a lot of this also happens for me in the writing process. Knowing the type of style and topic of posts that people like to link to is a big part of it. I don’t tend to actively promote many of my posts to other sites these days but instead let my readers do a lot of it.

Not sure if I’ve really answered your question Ross. So I’ll say this:

If it was in the first week of a blog’s life I’d work on the SEO of the blog (things like getting title tags right, looking at how it interlinks internally etc). In fact I’d work on this stuff before the blog was launched – but it probably wouldn’t take 10 hours. Once this stuff is set up it’s not something I generally spend a lot of time on – my focus switches to content creation.

In the coming weeks (and months) I’d work hard on developing key content that is useful, unique and attractive to other sites. I’d also promote some of that key content to other key blogs in the niche I was attempting to break into (keep in mind that in doing this you’re also really working on your SEO as incoming links play a big part in helping your Search Engine ranking). 10 hours a week doing this can really have a powerful impact!

What would you say is the most effective use of 10 hours as a blogger?

5 Uncommon Ways to Market Your Blog

The following post has been submitted by Neil Patel from Pronet Advertising and Quick Sprout.

If you are trying to increase the popularity of your blog, chances are you’ve already looked into search engine optimization (seo) or leveraging social media sites. There is nothing wrong with using these methods and you should probably try using them, but if you have already exhausted all the common methods of marketing your blog then here are 5 uncommon methods that work well:

1. Comments – People get lazy when it comes to posting comments on other blog on a regular basis. You may say that you don’t have the time or that you don’t want to post comments on other blogs because the majority are your competitors. It doesn’t matter, if you post comments on other blogs on a regular basis and give valuable advice many of those readers will start looking up to you and start reading your blog. If you do this for months you can get thousands of new readers as well as increase your blogs popularity.

2. Social NetworksMySpace, Facebook, and Bebo and some of the most popular websites on the Internet, so why not leverage them? They get millions of visitors a day and there’s no reason not to create profiles on every one of these sites. When building your profiles you can talk about your blog as well as link to it which will cause more visitors to flood into your website.

[Read more...]