Banging the Pots and Pans on Your Blog
During the new year’s resolution fervor, I heard a lot of people talk about “taking my blog to the next level” and “putting more energy into my blog” which basically boils down to either fixing up the look and feel of the blog’s design and interaction, or making a lot of noise to get the attention you think your blog deserves.
Let’s look at the latter: banging the pots and pans together on your blog.
In order to get attention to your blog, you have to publish something worth attracting attention. It must inspire, motivate, educate, entertain, and give us something interesting to talk about. The latter is the key. You can write the most brilliant exposé but if it doesn’t compel readers to talk about it, to tell friends and strangers, to make bloggers link, then it isn’t an attention-getting post. An attention-getting post is a viral post, one that begs to be spread around.
Seth Godin describes what an idea must have in order to become viral:
For an idea to spread, it needs to be sent and received.
No one “sends” an idea unless:
a. they understand it
b. they want it to spread
c. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind
d. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits
No one “gets” an idea unless:
a. the first impression demands further investigation
b. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea
c. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time
There are a lot of ways to make noise with your blog, but there is something that must in place before you even head towards your blog’s kitchen.
You must have something on your blog to make readers want to read, link, and return.
Body of Work: I call it a body of work. You may call it a collection of posts. Either way, you must have content on your blog that tells visitors what you blog about, and that you have the answers to their questions. Without content, you’re crying wolf. You make a lot of noise, everyone runs to see what’s going on, and there is nothing going on.
Make Time to Respond to the Attention: You have to be ready to respond to the attention your blog may generate. Time needs to be set aside to respond to comments, trackbacks, and comments on social bookmarking and site submission services that permit social interchange. It can take a lot of time, but if you get the attention, you have to pay attention.
Be Ready for Any Response: You must be ready to be ridiculed as well as praised. When you expose your opinion and advice to the public, there will be naysayers and mean commenters. It happens. It’s just part of the world we live in, filled with those who enjoy saying mean things. Expect it. Plan for it. And always take the high ground in your response. It’s your online reputation at stake.
Say Something New: Finally, make sure you aren’t rehashing old topics, the same ones everyone else is babbling on about. The “been there, done that” type of posts. When the first born child gets into the kitchen drawers and bangs the pots and pans together for the first time, parents are thrilled with the child’s accomplishment. After the 2,539th time, the delight and enthusiasm no longer resonates with joy. Please, for the sake of your readers, don’t bang the same pot everyone else is banging or one you’ve banged before. Give us a fresh perspective on a tired subject.
Here are some tips for helping you bang the pots and pans on your blog when it’s ready to bring on the lookie-loos.
Making Attention-Getting Noise With Your Blog
The keys to making a lot of noise and attracting attention to your blog are:
- Know Your Social Network: We all have our group of friends, associates, and people we know that we can communicate with. They can be regular readers on our blogs, email buddies, friends, family, or otherwise. Let them know what’s going on so they can spread the word. You can use email sign-ups, email newsletters, Twitter, chats, or whatever resource you have to generate some good old fashioned online word-of-mouth noise.
- Have a History With Online Social Networks: Get hooked up with your favorite online social network or forum and get “known” so when it comes times to make an announcement about something happening on your blog, it’s not a cold call. You want to become a known commodity. People like helping people they know more than strangers. Get known.
- Contact the Right People: If you have some WordPress news you want spread around, I happen to be one of the spreaders. You want to spread around a Plugin or Theme, WordPress news, or some other blog news, then check out Weblog Tools Collection and their Submit News link. There are a lot of blogs that publish information related to your blog as news. Find out who they are and get to know them. Ask them to help you spread the word when the word is ready for spreading.
- Earn a Reputation as a Source: It takes time, but if people come to expect you are the source of attention-getting and worthy content, they know where to go when they need the news you offer. For example, the Blog Herald is known as a source for blogging news, so when you want blogging news, you come here. Make your blog a source and destination.
- Press Releases: Blogs are replacing the press release, but they aren’t totally dead. There are still ways in which well written press releases can help you reach an audience beyond your normal ken. For more information, read How to Write a Social Media Press Release and How to Use the Modern Press Release by Copyblogger.
- Comment: In order to get known, you have to know. Comment on other blogs, and where appropriate, post a link to one of your blog posts – but only when it matches the post content and is the right thing to do. Don’t forget that most blog comments contain a link to your blog from your name. If you say something witty and brilliant, people click through to your blog.
- Make It Easy to Subscribe: If your blog is in your readers’ feed reader, you are more likely to get attention than not. There are many types of subscription methods blogs can use. Email alerts and announcements, feeds, feeds by email, newsletters…make it obvious you have subscription options available. Get that orange feed icon up at the top of your blog design and make it stand out.
- Social Bookmarking: Social bookmarking and site submission services continue to be popular, however, there is a lot of competition between the various services. The key to getting attention on these services it to do your homework. Find out what excites their membership and follow the rules, such as these Digg tips from Techipedia and StumbleUpon tips from Problogger. Make sure you choose the right tags and categories for the submission so those following tag and keyword specific feeds will see your post.
- Guest Blog: Guest blogging can bring in a lot of traffic to your blog – at the least, it introduces your expertise to a wider audience. Make sure you blog your best as you are blogging for more than just your reputation. You are blogging for your blog.
My last point on the subject of making a lot of noise with your blog: forget Google. Google and other search engines get you found. They don’t get you immediate attention nor a high volume of traffic.
You get traffic because there are fingers pointing in your direction. You get traffic because you have something to say that people want to hear, but more importantly, they want to tell their friends about. You maintain traffic by giving everyone who visits a reason to return, and bring their friends.
If you give, you will receive, but only if you tell a few people you have something worth receiving.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.
Great post, Lorelle! Your last point is most vital, in my mind: don’t worry about Google. If you write for people, they will like it, spread it around, link to you, and Google will help others find it. But if you write for Google, people probably won’t enjoy it.
“Be ready for any response” You hit the nail on the head with that paragraph. I had a friend that put up a post about a contest that he had entered. He was shocked by the negativity that it generated, not only at him but at the person that donated the prize.
All very good points and reminders. Thank you!! I find it a challenge when I receive a comment that is completely off the mark of the topic but I still respond.
People forget that blogging means publishing. And publishing means exposure. And exposure to the public – well, rotten tomatoes can get thrown virtually. :D
Some great tips, Lorelle. In particular, I hadn’t considered Guest Blogging. I’ll definately be doing more research into that.
Nice tips, thank you, Lorelle.
I need to bang my pots better. Great post and tips. I agree about Google. Yes, guest blogging is great. Also, Carnival Blogs seem to bring traffic. I enjoy posting to those. Thanks.
Totally agree Lorelle. I’ve begun to realize that what successful blogging ultimately comes down to is helping people and eschewing selfish shortcuts. If you help people and word gets out about it, you can’t help but be rewarded for it.
Those who have a selfish attitude and are focused on helping themselves out tend to write the junk blogs. They’re looking to do nothing for anyone and to get tons in return.
Those who are motivated to help others can’t help but generate useful content and that in turn causes people to flock to it.
For example, you look at companies like Southwest Airlines and scratch your head. Why is Southwest Airlines so profitable and consistently receives high customer satisfaction whereas the other airlines are more expensive, less profitable, and receive lower customer service scores?
I read an interview with Colleen Barret and she laughed because she stresses that Southwest Airlines employees always do the kind thing, and that is the spirit behind their customer service. But when she tries to help other airlines by explaining this spirit, they ignore this ethos of kindness and instead try to emulate Southwest’s policy and capital allocation strategies.
Anyway, the point is, focusing on helping people works better than all the other business strategies put together.