I try to steer clear of reading blog posts that I know will be a waste of time, are written by someone who is unqualified and also blog posts that I know present information repeated from other sources. Bloggers often repeat information without considering their audience, and without considering circumstance, and before long the whole blogosphere is full of bad advice. Here are some tips to increase your readership, professionalism, and profits by altering the way you learn about best practices, and avoiding cliché practices that kill the prospects of success while you’re in the process of courting it.
You Are Not an Established Business Are You?
Marketing blogs are written for 2 types of readers: established businesses trying to expand or incorporate an online presence, and other marketing blogs. The advice I would give to an established business is what you see a lot of marketing blogs following. They immediately incorporate pop ups, mailing lists, ad ware and other brand killers before they even have a brand. If your blog is getting less than 1k readers per day, there is no use in driving people away with a pop up asking them to subscribe to your newsletter, and the space above the fold on your homepage is probably better used to display recent posts or social media links. If your readership isn’t growing, you need to change something up.
Titles Are Your Most Powerful Weapon
There are 2 schools of thought on Titles. If you are targeting specific long tailed search phrases, it is often recommended to use a bland title that is representative of the words people use during search. Other writers tend to use eye catching titles with a splash of humor, or metaphor; something that draws people’s attention or arouses their curiosity. These titles work well on networks like Twitter where you are competing with a constant stream of content, but they aren’t optimized for search. I like the mix up my content so some of it is optimized for search while some is edgy, covering popular news topics heavy on opinion.
I would suggest a new blog to try using thought provoking titles for at least the first 2 months. Your posts will not start ranking well in search for quite some time, but you can have moderate success with well written content if people share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Stumbleupon. You may even try alternate forms of media like slide shows, videos and infographics which do better on Stumbleupon.
I also mentioned previously that the space above the fold is best used for a recent post list for new blogs, instead of a form to market your mailing list. It’s basically a list of titles that give disinterested readers an option besides leaving your site. They may not like your post on how new media is taking over the world as much as they thought they would, but seeing a buzzword like “Klout” could keep them in your article directory a little longer.
Make a Detailed Business Plan
Blogging is a lot like a diamond, you need to polish a lot of the facets before it shines, and you’ll need to polish them all if you want it flawless. Treat your SEO, site development, social profile development, blogger relations, reader retention, content production, finances, advertisement and multimedia as different departments that make a single business. Content production will eventually be your most important and time consuming department, but it’s important to develop your site and advertisement channels before you even write a single piece of content. If you have to handle all these yourself, scheduling will be your most important ally in making sure everything gets handled. Some activities like guest blogging cover advertisement, blogger relations, SEO, and sometimes finance. The most efficient use of your time is to do nothing but write new content for your own blog, but it doesn’t do much for your other programs. Keep all the tanks level so you don’t have to play catch up down the road.
Evergreen vs. Time Sensitive
There are 2 types of content: evergreen and time sensitive. You can write 10 evergreen articles over the weekend and post 3 a week for the next 3 weeks. If you write an article about Facebook’s change to the new timeline, it will be much more appealing to readers and conducive to engagement if you publish it soon after the change. Posting it 3 weeks from now is nearly pointless. Maintaining a blog is a marathon, not a sprint, so keep some evergreen articles like “10 ways to improve your LinkedIn profile” handy for the times you are too busy to write. If you plan on posting an evergreen article today and a huge news story in your niche comes up, cover that and save the article that isn’t time sensitive for tomorrow.
Know your Goal, and Stay True to It
Why exactly are you blogging? If you hope to one day monetize your blog, you need to take the proper steps to ensure it will at least be possible. A professional design is mandatory, and cheap hosting often costs you more in the end. Do you want to parlay your Social Media blog into a consulting , blogging or account management business? Make a page that lists what services you are capable of providing, WITH PRICES, and several methods of contacting you.
If you have a website that says “I am a Social Media Expert, and I’ll run your social media for money, but won’t say what I’ll do or for how much.” most people are going to think you’re an unqualified moocher. The only exceptions to this rule is people who have a brick and mortar office, or have reach celebrity status in the industry. Don’t kid yourself though, the list of people who have celebrity status in the social media industry reads like the starting lineup for the Yankees. I actually don’t believe any of them manage social media accounts, so unless your name is Mari Smith, make a price list.
A great example of how to set up your site is Kim Garst’s website. She doesn’t offer anything too complex, mostly social network graphics, and an overpriced cartoon graphic (which she has earned the right to charge a premium for), some social media management and some consulting. What she does do is list out everything she can do for you with a price, and she has a portfolio that proves she can deliver, as well as show off her designs. I’ve heard it said that social media strategies are always different, so it’s impossible to list packages. That is ridiculous; Social Media is as broad as it is long. You’re going to be dealing with Facebook, Twitter, and a few odds and ends. Customers will always want to buy a basic service like a Facebook page before they go off on hiring you to handle the roles of a traditional PR firm or website designer, so give them that option.