You’d be surprised how many forget this one. They choose a platform, they load it up with a million plugins, they advertise to their existing social media circles, but when it comes to writing they miss the mark completely. What is great content? This is material which engages your audience. It is researched, highly structured content posted once a week or more that meets people’s needs head on with solutions. It produces a response (in their sharing) to their questions because it’s entertaining but also informative. Pick a niche, and then research ways i.e. read other blogs and construct a way to say what they are saying, but in your own voice. DO NOT REINVENT THE WHEEL.
I previously mentioned promotion as a way to grow your traffic. But here’s the thing about promotion: too much will kill your success before it gains traction. Many of you, including myself, have probably done the following when starting out: start blog, tweet 100 times a day, get on Facebook and beg people to ”like”, then auction your soul to the Devil when that doesn’t work out. This is not only painful, it’s unnecessary. The best promotion tactics, by far, are the ones which never get talked about. For instance, writing great content often produces a series. Conversion of these articles into PDF format and sharing with eBook directories and free document sites like Scribd or Helium is a great way to bump the odds in your favor. Angering your readers by over-promotion is an avoidable situation, so don’t do it!
Engage your audience
If someone, say a family member or friend, asked you a poignant question which gave you pause, would you ignore them? OF COURSE NOT! You’d jump right on the bullet train to Intelligentsia (sorry, bad puns abound in my world) and figure out a worthwhile reply to their query. So why is it when you post on your site, the only thing you see is the occasional greeting from Grandma? The ‘gurus’ bread and butter is no longer figuring out how to get traffic, it’s merely conversing (read:engagement) about all the traffic they get, thereby getting more. It’s a topic which spews dividends every time it is brought up. Simply put: present a question in your great content, then engage with your audience’s feedback. This method can be accelerated if you use forums to become an expert on your niche and use your blog URL as a signature in your profile.
As a blogger, you are more than just an author and content creator, you are also a community administrator, managing and encouraging interaction between your readers and visitors.
Though much of this community interaction you can’t control, namely all of the conversation that happens off your site (Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.), a lot of it does take place directly under your purview, including comments on your site, conversation on your Facebook page and so forth.
To be a successful blogger, you need a good community to survive and thrive. However, running a community also comes with a series of responsibilities, both ethical and legal, that you need to be aware of.
Simply put, being a community admin is far more than having a comment box open on your site and letting others post. There’s actually a great deal more to it, especially if you want to have a community that is both productive and on the right side of the law. read more
Happy Monday, folks! It’s November, which means the release of Movable Type 5 is just around the corner. We should be seeing a release candidate build soon. Until then, let’s take a look at some plugins, themes, and cool tricks for the existing verison.
First, Mike T. from Code Monkey Ramblings has a new MT theme: Dark Marble. Based on a WordPress theme by the same name, Mike says he should have a version that supports the professional website templates soon.
Mike also has two new plugins. Comment Flag lets users report comments to you via email. The plugin uses jQuery so that the interaction is seamless for the user.
Mike’s other new plugin is Executable File Filter. It checks whether uploaded files are executable binaries or PHP scripts and renames them so they can’t be run. read more
Happy Monday, folks! Lots to cover this week, so let’s start with the release of Movable Type 4.32. This is a fairly minor release — no security issues, just a handful of changes. What’s remarkable about this release is the inclusion of the Zemanta plugin. If you’re not familiar with Zemanta, they help you find content on the web related to what you’re writing that you can include in your blog post. The Zemanta plugin has been around for a while, but now it’s being distributed with MT. I can’t recall Six Apart ever bundling a third-party plugin with MT before. Several times they’ve bought popular third-party plugins and made them part of the core — not really an option when the plugin is tied to a web service.
Clearly, this is the product of some kind of partnership between 6A and Zemanta. Since the plugin is open source, 6A can include it in MTOS with no licensing issues. Still, some users have complained. Since it’s tied to a commercial service it smells non-free, even though the plugin is GPL and it functions for free. There are those that feel this plugin should have been limited to the commercial verson of MT, rather than included in MTOS. So far, 6A shows no signs of changing things based on these complaints. read more
Blogging is like any other business or activity, if you stay with it long enough, eventually things will begin to change for you. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve likely already noticed that you don’t run your site the same way now that you did when you began. Likewise, if you just began, you’re probably already thinking of ways that you can improve or expand.
Your blog, nor you as a blogger, stay the same from month to month, year to year. Things change and, for the most part, it’s best to work with the tides rather than fight them. The change is rarely for the worst and, for the most part, it is inevitable.
Here are five areas that, over, the years I’ve been blogging, changed drastically for me. None are bad things. Some of these are signs of growth, some are signs of simply getting older as a blog/blogger. Either way, they are changes most bloggers can expect to face if they stick with it long enough. read more
With commenting becoming more and more fragmented, taking place increasingly on sites like Twitter and FriendFeed, Echo appeared to be an interesting way to unify all of these references and create one giant world-wide conversation out of the feedback. Though JS-Kit said that that ECHO would be “death to commenting” they had found a seemingly innovative way to keep the conversation alive.
The idea seemed simple and powerful and, with the 30-day money-back guarantee, it also seemed to be worth a shot. However, as I jumped into the system, I found it to be more of a mixed bag, a strange combination of really great features and big ideas but also of frustrations and headaches.
Though there is clearly a lot of potential for ECHO, there’s also a lot that needs fixing. There’s no doubt they have a good thing going, but the devil truly is in the details. read more
Disqus is a hosted comments solution, a popular one at that. What it does is that it replaces the comment functionality on your blog (or site for that matter) with a hosted one, which means that people can sign in with one username, and you get a lot of cool features without having to mess with plugins or code on your own.
The Mini-Profiles is pretty cool, but the killer feature is the Twitter sign in, available thanks to the new OAuth support (for you techies). Not only can you sign in with Twitter, you can also synch your commenting with your tweets, which is cool. Check out the Disqus blog post for more, or try it out yourself on any of theseblogs.
In my article, “What Changes Your Mind About Leaving a Blog Comment,” I talked about some of the issues around debating where and when to leave a blog comment on a blog that hosts information or opinions you don’t support, or is filled with blog clutter, a clue that something isn’t right. About how your comment may be seen to support the blog, and impact your reputation by association.
As I wrote that post, I looked back over all the WTF Blog Clutter articles in the series and realized that many of these issues are ones that impact my willingness to comment on a blog. Sure, they impact my ability to even read the blog, let alone return and tell others, but they also impact my willingness to endorse a blog with a comment.
I started thinking about all the blatant, subjective, and even unconscious reasons that prevent me from leaving a comment on a blog. Here are some of my self-discoveries, most of them associated with various aspects of blog clutter. I’m sure you have more you can add, but these are big clues that this is a blog that doesn’t deserve my participation. read more
Whitehouse.gov isn’t the open discussion website that (at least som) Barack Obama supporters from the election would have liked. I can understand why, politics is tricky business and if anyone could post a comment, it could (and would) get nasty really quick.
Enter Wired’s Clive Thompson and his post on how to tame trolls. It’s not news really, rather technologies and ways big sites manage it today, from stripping trolling commentaries of the vowels, to manual comment moderation. read more
A few minutes ago I followed a trackback to a lovely blog post about one of my blog posts. It was quite complementary and made some good points. I was in the middle of composing a reply when I glanced over to the sidebar and saw the listing of the most recent blog posts featuring what were clearly pay-per-post or sponsored post titles. Ick!
That was my first response. Ick. Yuk. Oooey gooey, as one of my nephews would say.
We’ve talked about a lot of different design detail clutter and distractions in the ongoing series, “WTF Blog Design Clutter“, but we haven’t addressed the issue of perception when it comes to inspiring blog comments and conversation.
It’s true that a lot of people comment on blogs for link bait and Google juice. While that may be true, what is unsaid about the importance of a blog comment is probably the most important consideration when it comes to commenting on blogs: Association by commenting.
A blog comment says you want to participate in the conversation. It says you are interested in the topic. It says you are supportive of the blogger. It says you are who you say you are. It says that the link in your comment form takes the reader to your blog, which should speak well of you and match the quality of the blog you are commenting on. It says you want to be a valuable contributor to the blogosphere and the world of communication. Right?