Friday, 30 March 2012

How to.. Blog & Get Noticed

The internet is a colossal space filled with blogs and aspiring writers, so how does one stand out in the mass of talent on a growing platform of user generated content? When I see my traffic increase I occasionally want to burst into song,  'Hello.. Is it me you're looking for?', I always wonder if they stumbled upon me or sought me out.

There are blogs on every and any subject, there are personal blogs, professional blogs, and academic blogs, so how do you reach your audience? It can all be done with a few simple steps in the right direction.

Step 1: Be your own PR guru - Learn to sell your work to others

Like the old saying goes, if you want anything done right - do it yourself. With the masses of blogs available, visitors will stumble upon your blog but to get the traffic you need to become a trusted and respected blogger you'll need to take things into your own hands. Social networking is the best platform to market your blog, set up a separate Twitter account for your blog, and start by spreading it around your friends. Once you've done that, you can start linking your blog posts in your tweets, use hash tags to make it easily available for people interested and searching for related topics. For example, I use hash tags such as #BarackObama or #Election2012, occasionally I'll tag the actual person in the tweet. You never know, their team may stumble upon your blog if you persevere - become unavoidable but never annoying. Be sure to use your Facebook account as well to reach a larger amount of people if you're new to Twitter.

You can also print out your own flyers and distribute them across your university campus or hand them out to relevant societies and clubs to gather a loyal following. If you blog about a specific interest such as fitness, you can go to your local gym and distribute flyers there as there is a continual flow of people eager to improve their fitness and read tips and advice.

The important thing here is to consider your target audience, think about their habits and how you can fit into that. If you were blogging about a topic such as the one on this blog, you could pin flyers in the halls of the American Studies building, or inform the American Studies society of your blog. Students support other students, so you're likely to gather new visitors. It may be worthwhile getting someone to endorse your blog to by word of mouth, word of mouth is some of the most effective publicity as we all trust each other's opinions.

Press releases may also be a good idea, especially if you're serious about becoming a blogger. It's a good way to get your stories noticed by people relevant to your topic without spamming them with Tweets or Facebook notifications.

Keep your audience - Once you've got them, you need to keep them. Don't take for granted they'll always come back, so add a Subscribe gadget, or include your Twitter on your blog so they can follow you and be aware when you add new content. You need to hold their interest, and their support. Barack Obama's campaign team doesn't wait and hope for donations for the campaign, they email their subscribers with new information to keep them updated. Encourage interaction, ask for reactions in comments, or provoke a response with a controversial topic. Not everybody will agree with your work, but they might come back again if they think you're brave enough to approach a touchy subject.

Step 2: Update content - Just keep writing

In a few simple words, keep calm and carry on. Even if your blog reaches a temporary standstill, keep finding inspiration for writing and keep up to date with your topic or you'll find you will suddenly become overwhelmed. Keep blogging or reading up on your topic, and the more you blog the better your writing will become. It sounds like a cliche but when it comes to writing, practice does make perfect. Search engines take into account how often your blog is updated and the amount of new content generated, so it's important to keep it relevant with fresh content, even if it's only linking to other blogs, videos or articles.  If you're a student, it can be difficult to keep on top of this, but its worth doing especially if you're looking at a career in the media as it will give you an edge when it comes to an interview, it will show the enthusiasm and commitment you'll need to break into the industry.

Step 3: Make it easy to find

This is a crucial factor in standing out, make sure your headlines contain keywords so that they will show up in news results on search engines. Although a a clever headline may seem like a good idea, it becomes a waste if no one is there to read it. So avoid headlinese and use keywords relevant to your topic, this will ensure your blog posts show up in the search results and are easily found by your target audience.

Step 4: Interact with other bloggers, don't be a wallflower

Contacting other bloggers can be daunting, especially as a newcomer in the blogging sphere. If you're a student, chances are plenty of your peers are doing the same thing, so build a network of bloggers. You can help each other out, without feeling self conscious. It's also worth seeking out blogs within your topic, comment on posts and make yourself known. If you give feedback, chances are you'll get some in return.

Step 5: Be patient.

Getting your blog noticed won't happen overnight, it will take commitment and time that you might not always be able to find. Like they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. Be patient and eventually you will get somewhere. Good luck!

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