This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook
I’m often asked by friends, family and readers how I spend my time on an average day of blogging.
Those asking are often surprised to hear that while ‘writing‘ is one definitely one activity that I do a fair bit of that there are quite a number of other activities that take up quite a bit of my focus.
One such important activity that I spend considerable time on as a blogger is ‘watching’, ‘monitoring’, ‘listening to’ and ‘reading’ what others are writing on their blogs or social media accounts.
Reasons to Be Aware of What Others are Talking About in Your Niche
There are quite a few reasons that bloggers monitor what’s being said on other blogs and in the news on certain topics. These include:
1. Ideas for Posts – one of the main challenges that bloggers face at different times is running out of things to blog about. Keeping abreast of what others are writing about gives you an almost unlimited supply of ideas and helps you to keep your posts on topic with what is buzzing in your niche at any given point of time.
2. Awareness of Breaking News – this is more relevant for some niches than others but sometimes knowing when a story is breaking in your industry can be very important. Being unaware of such stories can make your blog look out of touch to readers wanting to know the latest.
3. Profile Building and Perceived Expertise – bloggers who are obviously aware of what else is happening in their niche are often seen as experts and authorities in their industry. I know of a number of bloggers and twitter users who’ve built profiles for themselves simply by having their finger on the pulse of their niche and linking to interesting and useful content on other sites.
4. Networking – using some of the ‘alert’ tools below enables you to know who is talking about issues relevant to your niche within a short time of them doing so. This enables you to make connections and build relationships with these people.
5. Reputation Management – knowing quickly when others are talking about you, your company, your brands and your blog is valuable information as it enables you to not only build relationships with those who are saying positive things about you but also manage negative talk.
There are other reasons to be aware of what people are saying in your niche – but lets move on to some of the ‘how to do it’.
Today your task is to set up a variety of ‘alerts’ or ‘watch lists’ for your blog’s niche.
There are many services around to help you keep track of what people are writing. I’d love you to suggest those that you use in comments below – but here are a handful that I regularly use:
- Google News and Blog Alerts – Google’s alerts will show you any mention of keywords in only ‘news’ sources (for example newspapers), on blogs, in videos, on the ‘web’ or even in their ‘groups’. You can choose to be alerted about different categories or for them all. It gives you the opportunity to get alerts via an email or RSS feed at different intervals.
- Technorati Watchlists – Very similar to Google Alerts as it’ll feed you mentions of certain words on blogs.
- Twitter Alerts – there are a lot of tools to help you monitor what is being said on Twitter. Some are built into twitter clients (for example TweetDeck has a great one) but others include Monitter (allows live monitoring but also gives you an RSS feed for words), , Twitter’s Search (you can set up an RSS feed for any keyword) and Twitter Hawk (a paid service that allows you not only to monitor but respond to tweets on keywords). Again, there are many others that you can use – feel free to suggest others below.
As mentioned above – there are many tools around to do this type of monitoring. The key is to find one or two that fit with your style and rhythm of blogging and to regularly check them.
Types of ‘alerts’ to set up:
Lastly – let me outline a few types of alerts to set up. These are the two that I most commonly set up:
1. Industry Words – these are words relevant to your blog’s niche. For example if you blog about the wedding industry you might like to monitor words like ‘wedding dress’. If you blog about Britney Spears – you’ll want to be watching for any use of her name. The key is to find keywords that highlight when stories are breaking about your industry but ones that don’t overwhelm you with results.
2. Vanity Alerts – these are keywords that are specifically relevant to you. They include your personal name, your blog’s name, company name, brand names and even URLs.
Warning – Monitor in Moderation
Let me finish with a word of warning. Don’t become obsessed with monitoring what OTHERS are saying.
While I do believe it can significantly enhance a blog to be aware of what others are doing online in that space – it can also become a distraction (if not an obsession). The key with all tasks of blogging is to do them in a balanced way. Set up some ‘alerts’ today – keep an eye upon them – but don’t forget to actually do some writing yourself instead of just watching what others write!
Update: See what others are saying at theforum thread!
This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.
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