At the Romance Writers of America conference on web publishing for authors I spoke at last week, a running theme on blog marketing kept popping up: how to reach beyond your current market.
In other words, how to reach new readers who wouldn’t normally read your blog.
Another speaker, Rachelle Chase, spoke about asking readers and fans to help her “find” her next novel’s male star in a contest called Finding Derek. She invited them to submit “Derricks” to her blog, but didn’t stop there. She went out in to the streets and stopped good looking guys around San Francisco, asking if she could take their picture and submit it to her “Find Derrick” campaign. Of course, she gave them a card promoting the competition and her blog. She jumped onto single and modeling networking sites and invited gorgeous men to participate in the project. She went everywhere and anywhere to find her Derrick, and in the process, spread the word about her blog to those she would not normally reach.
When author J.C. Hutchins was determined to publish his science fiction novel on cloning and wasn’t finding agents or publishers welcoming, he decided to share it with the world through his blog. Traditionally, he could have shared it as an ebook. He broke with tradition and released it as a podio book, podcast meets audio book. He got to know others in the podcasting industry and asked them to do a promo of their podcast so he could include it in his weekly podcast versions of his book. They returned the favor, exposing his book and blog to an audience he wouldn’t normally reach.
Hutchins went further. He asked fans to invite their friends to help promote and market his podio book. People from a variety of industries and expertise started popping out of the webwork to create animated versions of the geography, places, and bits of story from his book. They created podcast announcements, trailers, artwork, and all types of media to help him promote the book, publishing it on their blogs and around the web, again, reaching beyond his reach to new audiences. All for free. All viral. All exciting things to talk about and share with others.
Blog conferences are a great way to meet fellow bloggers but also to create a network, to find people you can rely upon for tips, information, and exchanges of work and/or ideas. Fellow bloggers are also more likely to blog about you if they meet you face to face and you make a memorable impression.
Attending conferences for bloggers, web publishers, and web related genres has you singing to the choir, but it can give exposure to those unfamiliar with your blog. A WordCamp event like WordCamp Dallas, March 29-30, 2008, is a great way to increase your blog’s exposure with WordPress and blogging fans. The unique Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference in Chicago in May includes serious bloggers determined to build their blog into a business, a great networking opportunity to find like-minded bloggers you can work with to help increase your blog’s visibility, and reach a new audience.
Last year at WordCamp in San Francisco, a chiropractor/blogger, David Klein of Body ABCs, wanted a way of easily meeting people and networking, and being memorable. He hired cartoonist, Orie Roberts of La Jolla, California, to create caricatures of as many of the attendees as possible by taking a digital picture and asking a few quick questions, then emailing the information to the artist. Want to see mine? It was fun, unusual, quick, and participants got something not only to talk about, but link to. Few people forgot David Klein in the rush of the conference and after.
Social networking is another method of attracting new attention and new audience, especially if you spread yourself around into new areas, related but different.
Offline or on, don’t forget that volunteering continues to be a key way of getting known by the right people, as well as new audiences, so consider volunteering as part of your social networking plans.
What about you? How can you maximize your blog by exposing it to new traffic?