The Dirty Dozen: 12 Suggestions For Making Your Mark In The Blogosphere
By Kiltak and The British Geekette
[Geeks Are Sexy] Tech. News
When I started [GAS] 10 months ago, I had no idea about how popular my little initiative would become. The first month barely brought me more then 100 unique hits, but this didn't really matter to me because I was only doing this for myself. Things really started to pick up in January 2006 when I wrote something that got promoted to Digg's front page. Since then [GAS] has known its ups and downs and, unsurprisingly, these ups have always coincided with the time when I (or any of my contributors) get my 'pencil' out and start writing some original content. Getting ideas out of your head to provide fresh content to your readers is not always easy, but when you succeed in publishing a good piece of work, the rewards are definitely worth all the headaches in the world.
Here are our tips for successful blogging, many of which have helped put [GAS] on the map, and should do the same for you too.
Tip #1: As a system administrator, the range of topics I really know about is somewhat specialized. I can't really go out and post about the reproduction cycle of lemmings and expect people to take me seriously or link to me as a credible source. With this in mind, here is tip #1: Write about what you really know. The idea is to let people profit from your expertise and wisdom and let others do the job of writing about the things you are not completely comfortable with.
Tip #2: Quote your sources. If you're directly referring to something written on another site be clear about this. Link back to the site you're quoting and ensure that you're not attempting to take the credit for something written or said by someone else. Chances are they won't be amused.
Tip #3: Don't be afraid to express your opinion on a subject when writing a post. Be clear though that what you are saying is not necessarily gospel but just your humble opinion, this could save you from a potential torrent of criticism and correction. Of course, while your opinion may be considered right or wrong by many readers, if you've hit on an interesting topic just expressing that opinion can result in an fascinating and diverse conversational thread.
Tip #4: Your readers are human beings, treat them with respect. When they ask a question or give you feedback about one of your articles always answer them and show your appreciation, even if what they say is negative. Sometimes even negative comments can be a good thing if you learn something from them.
Tip #5: Use your stat engine extensively to track referrers and outbound clicks. Your stat engine is your best friend, never forget that. It will help you determine which of your posts are the most popular ones, and where your traffic is coming from. This will allow you to learn about the preferences of your readers, and also help you focus the content of your future posts for maximum impact. Personally, I use the Performancing Metrics engine. If you've never tried it out, do yourself a favor and set it up on your blog for a test run. I can guarantee that you will not regret it.
Tip #6: If you want other bloggers to link to you, never hesitate and link back to them as often as you can. If you never send traffic to anyone, no one will send traffic to you.
Tip #7: When you publish a particularly good piece of work, don't hesitate and submit it to sites that post content related to your specific niche of expertise. I was able to get some of my articles posted on major sites this way, resulting in a lot of traffic and additional link backs as a collateral effect. Submitting your content to social networking sites such as Digg, Reddit and Shoutwire is also highly recommended.
Tip #8: Read and participate in conversations related to your niche of expertise on other blogs. Be careful about what you write though - double check your facts and always write relevant and informative comments, using the occasion to leave your link through your name in the header of the comments you're posting.
Tip #9: Try to diversify your posts within the many spheres of knowledge you have. Even if your blog is geared towards a specific theme, it can't hurt to be a little bit fluid with the concept from time to time. By doing this your blog stands more chance of appealing to a wider audience. Combined with tip #5 you'll be able to see what impact these forays into a different territory are actually worth to your blog.
Tip #10: Looks sometimes really do matter. A simple, uncluttered design should focus the reader to your post content first and foremost. Make graphic content relevant and unobtrusive; use a simple color palette but be visual: a page of text on its own will make less visual impact at first glance than one lightly scattered with interesting images. Unless you are trying to showcase your web design expertise keep it simple. Think of the times you may have been turned off a site you've stumbled upon purely because the design overwhelmed the content.
Tip #11: Make your site easy to navigate. Try to cross-link and, unlike us, tag your posts appropriately: not only does this allow readers to easily navigate to any associated additional articles but it'll increase your visibility via the many blog-tracking engines. Highlight those posts that may be of significant interest; make them easy to find.
Tip#12. Find a name that will have the effect of a nuke on your audience, and don't forget to buy a domain that can be associated with it. Your blog name is like a brand: it can stick in people's head or just go in one ear and out the other. Just take us for instance, can you honestly say that our name is easily forgettable?
Implementing a few, or all, of these tips on your blog should help it gain both respect and visibility. Unfortunately for you, the blogosphere is a crowded place, so only the best among you will succeed in punching through the walls of anonymity into the world of fame and success. Good luck to all of you.
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