Okay, I’m not particularly fond of metablogging, or blogging about blogging. Enough people do it, some even do it well. Regardless, I had an email conversation yesterday about exactly this topic, and I figured the stuff I wrote was worth throwing out there.
Disclaimer: I don’t know what I’m talking about. Other people know way more about marketing themselves than I do, but I’ve paid attention to what I’m doing with Slacker Manager and, who knows, it might help someone else.
Assuming you’ve got a reason to blog, then in no particular order, here’s the braindump…
- Choose a blogging platform that can grow with you. Generally speaking, if it’s free, it’s got limitations. Free is perfect if you’re just kinda figuring the whole thing out, but if you think you’re going to devote even as little as an hour or two a week, consider upgrading. If you’re totally new to this, then here’s the quick rundown of options: you can host it yourself or you can have someone host it for you. Unless you really dig nosing around in the code, just get on board with a hosted service (typepad, blogger, whatever…)
- Write good stuff. Content still rules, so if you have something to say, get on with it! Everyone reposts other people’s stuff now and then and sometimes the blog world seems totally circular, with everyone pointing to everyone else and nobody saying anything original. It’s fine to point to other people, just try to add a little bit to the conversation. And get something original up once in a while.
- Spread yourself around. Whatever your interests, find your community and begin to interact with them. Leave comments liberally. Learn to use trackbacks, and encourage others to do the same. ‘Course, put some meat into those comments and trackbacked posts. If you’re always doing the "me too" thing, people will get a little tired of you and they won’t come visit.
- Be not afraid (of controversy). It’s okay to be out of the mainstream now and then. It makes for interesting reading. If you’re gonna take the controversy road then I beseech you, please make decent arguments and be sure you know what you’re talking about. It’s one thing to have a position that nobody agrees with, but it’s quite another to have a position that everyone knows is offbase because you didn’t do your homework.
- Seed yourself. People will eventually link to you, but you can jumpstart the process by seeding yourself into one of the various blog carnivals, or even into an appropriate category in del.icio.us. Go easy on the delicious stuff though.
- Don’t believe the hype. There are services that claim to bring in tons of traffic to your blog. If you want people stopping by for their obligatory 30 second layover at your place, then go for it. Personally, I’d rather wait for the folks that really want to come visit. (see how I’m working in a little controversy here?)
- Tag it. Use your categories, technorati tags, and/or del.icio.us tags to drive a little extra traffic. Lots of folks are going to the extra effort of putting technorati tags at the end of their posts. It probably helps. I categorize my posts, but don’t make my categories public. Not because I’m all secretive, but mainly because I’m too lazy to rejigger things the way I’d like them to be. Who knows how much I’ve suffered because of this.
- ChangeThis. I’m a huge fan of ChangeThis.com. They’re providing a great service for spreading ideas around. Go drop off a proposal and get something up there–be sure you include your blog address in your profile. It’s a great way to begin establishing yourself in your field of interest.
- Be a giver, not a grabber. Lend a hand to others. Be kind and help out folks who are just figuring their thing out. Got expertise? Be generous with it. It’s totally cool to pitch your for-profit services, but give a little something away while you’re at it. And I’m not just talking about teasers, be real.
That’s the big stuff. There’s more to say about some ego-ish stuff, like keyword tracking, statistics and figuring out what your readers want to read, etc. You can let that stuff wait until later–if you’re just getting started, keep your focus on your interests.