It’s a fair cop. I’ll hold my hand up to it: in these days of cyber-vetting I wanted anyone who googles me to find my professional persona. The quickest way to make sure of that seemed to be to write a blog, but the days of “build it and they will come” are gone so you’ve got to put in some effort.
“Quick” is a relative term of course, and this is the first time I’ve actively promoted a blog rather than allowed it to grow organically, and that has been time consuming bit. If you are about to do this yourself, you might like to know how long it takes.
There are a whole bunch of ways to kick-start a blog, once you’ve got a blog to promote:
- tags and categories
- blog directories
- beauty contests
You’ve got to have a blog to promote! If your content is poor, the blog will fail. Unfortunately it needs more than good content to succeed.
Links: put links in your posts. Your blog is more useful and therefore more attractive; your stats will be more informative and that tells you what your hot topics are. Some of the people you link to will call by to see who is linking to them. Your blog becomes a conversation rather than just a speech, and that helps the blog build up a reputation.
Tags and Categories: use them to label your blog. Categories help people find their way round your blog, tags are useful for infrequent topics. They both help people find similar blogs, and they help search engines find you.
Promoting to real people
Networking: put the word out among friends and colleagues and in the online places where you already hang out. I’ve got links from my profiles in Facebook and Linked-In, I emailed some pals, I posted the site’s address in a few of the forums where I’m a regular and I added the link to my email signature. Not surprisingly, the first few comments were from folk who know me. They know who they are, and the drinks are on me.
Building a reputation: is a matter of getting out there and joining in. No, not hustling. Not spam. Not ”Cool site. I link to you.” Reading is more interesting than writing anyway, but I sometimes find it’s easy to let it fall by the wayside, so this is a discipline that has become a pleasure. I use Google Reader to gather together the new posts in blogs I read regularly.
Blog Directories: this is the arduous work of submitting your blog to blog directories, but it’s worth it. A quick google produces a long list of directories, and then you just register with them and add a reciprocal link to your site. I say “just”: this is time consuming but mindless. The directories I’ve submitted this blog to are in the column on the right, but don’t take my word for it: google for the latest advice. (Update: Robert A Kearse has commented on this post and provided a link to the list of 300 or so active blog directories on his site – an extremely useful resource).
Beauty contests: is the term I’ve used for sites like Delicous, Stumble Upon and Digg where readers vote on their likes and dislikes. I’m not convinced by the wisdom of crowds so I find this soul-destroying. I’m not an active users of any of the sites and, stupidly, I’m not convinced that the people I want to read my blog will use them either.
Which brings me to the question of who is my reader?
Who are you, Reader?
I fondly imagine that you are some other IT-like person and we are in a pub after work shooting the breeze. But who knows? I’m a little afraid to ask. I’d love it if you came back again and again, subscribed to my feed, hung on my every keystroke, trembled when I posted, quivered as you read.
In fact you were chasing a search term and will probably never come by again.
It was nice…
… oh, you’ve gone…
So – how much time did this ruthless self-promotion take me?
Creating content – up to an hour a post: the first draft is always longer. Adding links, tags and categories is a matter of minutes or moments.
Look and feel – a couple of evenings messing about with WordPress Themes and widgets: this is so soothing that I still tinker with it every now and again.
Promoting to People
Networking – hardly any time at all: I mentioned it in passing and left it at that.
Reading and commenting – I set myself a target of between one and two hours every evening for two weeks and then a couple of hours once or twice a week thereafter. First of all you have to find the blogs, which is where all those blog directories finally prove their worth, but then it’s just a matter of subscribing. Reading and commenting is the fun bit though, where the web turns into a dialogue.
Blog directories and beauty contest sites – several evenings and a couple of weekends: dull but easy to multitask (I cooked food, watched tv, gossiped on MSN, listened to podcasts, stroked the cat and drank tea while I did it).
Is it worth it?
What’s “worth it”? At the quantitative end of the scale, I can tell you how many visitors I get but with a blog like this it’s not just numbers. If I wanted numbers I’d put up pics of public people’s private parts, or cute pictures of cats with illiterate captions, such is the wisdom of crowds.
I’m pleased that the blog is sparking conversations, and I enjoy the conversations it’s sparked.
I guess the acid test would be unsolicited job offers. But now I’ve mentioned it, they wouldn’t be unsolicited.
Should have thought of that.