There are numerous ways to get a blog noticed and mentioned online. Some are good and others are atrocious. We’re all aware of “that guy” who simply joins conversations online and says, “Wow, that’s interesting. Hey, have you read my blog about…” Sometimes the blog covers the topic being discussed — but usually it doesn’t. Sometimes our “friend” doesn’t even go to the trouble of actually even trying to comment on the conversation and simply spams his blog’s links everywhere he can, hoping someone somewhere will accidentally click the link instead of the block button.
So how do we avoid becoming “that guy?” The blog needs promoting; blogs that people don’t know about don’t get read… it’s as simple as that. But there are polite ways to promote your blog in an active sense without becoming a blog-spamming troll.
There are a number of website and blog-specific directories out there. Most of us are familiar with these, so a short summary is all I’ll include here. In essence, these are websites that will host and promote various other sites for a subscription of sorts. Some are ad-supported, others require payment or contracts of a certain period of time. What these do is allow another angle of search engine optimization so that people looking for topics relating to your blog will have more of a chance of finding your hard-written content.
By now, good SEO practices should be seen as mandatory. Keywords, meta-tags and other good SEO practices will promote your blog for you without ever requiring you to contact anyone. Do it.
However, there is the related, yet not identical, field of topic tagging. Many blogs have an option to tag an article with topics. These don’t necessarily directly relate to SEO results, though in some cases they do get listed. What they do is allow people using the same blogging software to browse based on topics. So if you’re discussing a particular issue or news story, tag it in the categories or topics section, and fellow WordPress or Blogger users might just come across your work.
The previous techniques are useful because they don’t require direct interaction with others. They’re based on letting searches promote your work for you. However, nothing in the world beats the personal touch, and there’s nothing more personal than social media. As mentioned above, the personal approach is risky, because people have fickle moods. Not everyone is in the mood to hear about a blog when they’re having a discussion. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be as crass as the above example of our blog-desperate friend.
First, there are online forums. These are a great place to ease into the social media experience. Find a forum or two related to the topic of your blog, and begin participating. When it comes time to create your profile, make sure good content is provided. Provide a short but informative bio about what you do, put keyword relevant tags to your blog in the activities section and make sure your blog is linked in either the website or signature portions of your forum, or both.
These practices, you’ll note, can be repeated on any social media site. Facebook in particular is good for this, as it has a very robust background and biography section to work from.
Once in the forum or social media discussion group, participate actively. Introduce yourself if there is an appropriate place to do so. Mention your blog and what it is about briefly, and then drop it for a while. Drop in on discussions that you feel you have something relevant to contribute to, always being sure to be polite and provide insightful commentary. If you can’t think of something to say, don’t force it.
One good “bridging” method in these cases is using your fellow conversationalists’ comments as inspiration for a blog post. Suppose someone brings up a commonly held misconception, or mentions something you genuinely hadn’t thought of before. Write a post about it, and link to that post in the message. Use this technique sparingly — you want to be known for your own unique content, not as a topic-miner. However, when done politely and genuinely, this can get people interested in speaking with you and reading what you have to write.
Habits and Practices
Those paying attention will see that this is a process, not a “step.” Blog promotion is an activity that takes time to properly cultivate and is very easy to get wrong. The steady and measured approach is the best way to avoid taxing peoples’ patience — pushing too hard will get you flagged for spam or banned, which results in a bad reputation.
Getting readers to come to a blog is like developing any good relationship. Businesses tend to thrive on repeat customers rather than one-time visitors, and a blog is the same way. You want a loyal readership? Show them you’re trustworthy and friendly before they ever show up. You aren’t going to be able to force interest — either it is there or it isn’t. Do your blog a favor and remove the roadblocks of over eagerness by accepting the long-term view of solid promotion.