Sunday, August 24, 2008

How to Become an Influential Jblogger

I've read many posts across the blogosphere about the convention last week. Shocking as it may seem, some bloggers are critical of it. The format of my panel was changed and shortened in midstream, due to Bibi's arrival and long speech. Esther, the moderator, was going to lead us through a discussion of various issues. In a preliminary e-mail some of the panelists had already started debating a topic that Esther had mentioned. But that never happened, due to no one's fault, so let me share with you now the thoughts I had on how to increase your influence as a blogger.

First, let me emphasize that you should do some soul-searching about why you want more readers. It might not be the right thing for you. You should also recognize that there is no magic bullet that will make you super-popular. You need to write well and stand out.

Here are some easy things you can do (as I already mentioned in this post):
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  1. Put the URL of your blog in your e-mail signature.
  2. Post meaningful comments to other blogs and put your URL in the appropriate place.
  3. Try exchanging links with related blogs.
  4. Register with Jrants and other aggregators.
  5. E-mail posts to bloggers whom you think will be interested (but don't overdo it)
  6. Try to get your blog mentioned in Havel Havalim.
I would now add:
  1. When and if you write for the print media, even just a letter to the editor, make sure to list your blog in your byline.
  2. This may be controversial but try to optimize your blog for searches on topics that are relevant to your area of specialty. Most of your search hits will be gone after the first read but some will stay.
  3. Try submitting blog posts to various media outlets (newspapers, magazines, newsletters), whether small or big. If readers like the excerpt, they will check out your blog.
  4. Find creative ways to give away free things (like an e-book). People flock to free stuff.
Here is a strategy (or gimmick) that might work but takes planning and a long time. Find an issue of current concern to a specific community and blog about it repeatedly, with enough uniqueness that it will get noticed in that community. It could even be a minor issue but become THE blog on that topic (think OrthoMom and the Lawrence school district, but don't get sued like she did). People from that community will come flocking to your blog, but most of them will never come back because they are not interested in your regular fare. However, the people from that community who appreciate your non-single-issue blogging will see what you have to offer and continue reading. Then move on to the next community and issue, repeat, lather and rinse The trick will be to do this without alienating your existing readers by harping on one issue. I leave the solution to that problem up to you.

Someone at the convention asked how to write posts without spending half an hour on them. Here's what I do. Write a first draft quickly and then walk away from it for hours. Let the ideas bounce around your head so that you can come up with editing ideas and then edit the post without having seen it for hours. At that point, you can edit it pretty quickly and post it.

And finally, treat your readers well. Be respectful of them, don't take them for granted and blog regularly. Readers need to know that when they check your blog there will be something new there. It is also important to make your blog visually pleasing and easy to read. Do not force your readers to have to go through any trouble in order to read your blog; that is going to cost you a lot of readers.

That's all the wisdom I've got. If you have better ideas, please share them in the comments section.

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