You remember the three “R’s” from your school days — Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic? Today, I want to present four R’s for successful strategic blogging.
Reading – Blogs can be information “black holes.” In other words, they can absorb every bit of content you send them and still cry out for more. Blogging is a real-time activity and continued participation in the ongoing discussion that is the World “Live” Web is part of how the game is played.
To stay fresh, it’s important to stay in touch with what others in your niche are saying. That’s where RSS is a godsend. You can easily subscribe to other blogger’s RSS feeds, and have readily available content to review, which will likely spark ideas you can present on your blog.
Bloggers tend to be information junkies anyway, and reading RSS feeds, whether they come from other bloggers or news sites such as Google News is important. So, get an RSS reader and begin subscribing to feeds, then make some time to read them on a regular basis. (My preference is Bloglines. It’s web-based and easy to use.)
Researching – When writing for Weblogs Inc, I was required to post a certain number of times each day. (Talk about becoming an information junkie!) Often, I would find myself writing about matters with which I had little expertise or frame of reference. I would spend a considerable amount of time googling information to provide fodder for blog posts.
While you may be writing on subject matter with which you have great familiarity and expertise, after a while you may find you’ve reached the limits of your base of knowledge. Not only are bloggers information junkies, we are also perpetual students, constantly growing in our attempt to climb the proverbial “tree of knowledge.”
I love what blog pioneer Rebecca Blood said a long time ago (in blog years at least): If you blog about something long enough you will become an expert at it.
Writing – (er, ‘Riting) This is where establishing a posting quota is important and helpful to maintaining a schedule. Determine how often you wish to blog – once per week, three times per week, daily, several times a day – and stick with it. Establish a time each week or each day you can devote to it.
My friend Steve Rubel, the famed Micropersuasion blogger, gets up early in the a.m. to start his blogging for that day. Steve makes a concerted attempt to post several times daily, and his readers have come to expect that degree of productivity from him. Steve has disciplined himself to meet the challenge and it has paid off in terms of gaining a large body of readers and vaulting him to a level of great popularity in certain circles. He has truly become a blog celeb!
Another good practice is to establish what I refer to as a “content calendar.” This is similar to what the print folks call an editorial calendar. It’s simply coming up with a variety of topics about which to write. These topics can become your blog categories. I’d recommend developing six or eight such topics. When you sit down to write, look those over and determine which one will get your time and attention for that day. Make sure you cover each of the topics routinely, so that you don’t get stuck in just one or two.
Relationship Building – You recall the old adage “no man is an island.” That’s particularly true of blogging. The medium is truly a communal exercise. Participation in the blogosphere is a cornerstone principle. I’d really encourage you to do three things where this is concerned:
- Build a blogroll – That’s simply a list of links in the sidebar of your blog to other topically-related blogs. When I first started blogging this was one of the first things I did. Other bloggers really appreciate it and will often return the favor.
- Comment on other blogs – By this I mean, use the “comment” feature to write your impressions on what the blogger has said. This is a great way to let other bloggers know you’re reading their stuff, and serves as a way to make your presence in the blogosphere known.
- Use trackbacks – (Also known as “pings”) I love trackbacks and use them with impunity. They are simply a way to let one blogger know that another blogger has talked about them. When you write a post that references something another blogger has said, not only include a link to that post in yours, but copy and paste their “trackback URL” into the field on your posting interface which allows for that. Most platforms have that feature built-in. Blogger does not, but you can go to Haloscan.com to download a plug-in which enables it.
I can’t tell you how important it is that you become a good citizen of the blogosphere and work at building relationships. It will pay off in ways you can’t imagine.
Oh, one more…but this one is not an “r” so I’ll call it a bonus…
Keywords – For SEO purposes, it’s always a good idea to optimize your posts with vital keywords. You’ve done some SEO work for your site, right? Perhaps you’ve hired an experienced SEO firm to help develop a list. Keep that list handy and use one of the keywords in each of your blog posts including it in the post title and once or twice depending on the length of your post in the body copy.
You might have your own list of blogging essentials, whether they begin with “r” or not. If so, feel free to leave a comment with that information.