In my Darren Rowse post the other day I asked what people would do if they had $1,000 to promote their blogs. I have been thinking about budgeting a little money to promote Newsome.Org to potential new readers.
TDavid responded with a fantastic and detailed post, full of ideas for anyone looking to spend a little money for more traffic. It is a must read for anyone trying to build a blog. Even if you don’t plan to spend money promoting your blog, it’s still a must read, as he includes a number of cost-free promotion ideas.
As TDavid points out, I went on a non-scheduled, unannounced blogging hiatus for several months. I didn’t intend to. I just got burned out and one week turned into two, etc. I went through the same sort of thing Scoble talked about the other day. A confluence of real world responsibilities and what often seems like a low rate of return on the hard work of blogging put me out of the blogging business for a while. When I started back (also unplanned), I had lost some of my audience and my Technorati ranking was in free fall.
The point is that blogging is a marathon, not a sprint, for most of us. This is particularly true when you are geographically remote and unable to plug into a local blogging culture. Steve Gillmor, who I have met in the real world and consider a pal, tells me geography doesn’t matter in the blogosphere. I respectfully disagree. It’s not something you can’t overcome, but I believe if I lived in the Bay Area, I’d become friends with a lot of the guys out there, who would in turn include me in more of their online conversations.
But, like a lot of us, I don’t live out there. So I have to find another way to promote my blog. TDavid has some great ideas, many based on his personal history of successfully growing both a blog and other web sites.
TDavid says you need at least 75 posts a month to be in growth mode. Historically, I would have disagreed with that, but I come from an old media perspective, having written for newspapers and trade journals for years (where a coveted monthly column became burdensome to the point of impossibility). But having been involved in the blogosphere for a few years, I think he’s probably right. If not for the content itself, for the content and the embedded links to draw other writers to your site, and to seed the reciprocal links which are, for better or worse, one of the established measuring sticks for blog readership.
TDavid gives some stats that support his more posts the better theory.
Then he proposes an allocation of my $1,000.
He breaks it down into 4 areas: design, widgets, contests and advertising. Go read his post for details. Now for my thoughts about each.
Design: I think I should spend a little money on design, and perhaps a better search approach. I used to use an internal Perl search engine at Newsome.Org, but I switched to Google a couple of years ago. I think the first thing I need to do is figure out how to move my content to a WordPress platform- as there are a lot of design possibilities in WordPress that don’t exist via Blogger (my site is locally hosted, but I use Blogger (via Live Writer) to publish content). Eric Scalf kindly wrote a WordPress template of my basic design for me last year, but I didn’t make the switch because of the frustrating URL problem.
If you are a new blogger, start with WordPress, because it’s sometimes hard to switch once you have a large archive.
Widgets: I have experimented with a number of widgets, and have a few on the site now, including my poor excuse for a tag cloud in which “nbsp,” html for a space, is the most popular “tag.” You’ve got to love that. Again, I think I could solve a lot of this if I could switch to WordPress. Some widgets have a material adverse effect on page load times, so you have to be thoughtful about which ones to add. After ignoring it for a long time, I have become a fan of the MyBlogLog widget, and find a lot of new blogs via the people who visit Newsome.Org. I also like the Flickr widget, but it drives very little traffic to my Flickr photos. I’m still using the GoodBlogs widget, but it’s currently under review, simply because I don’t know how much inbound traffic it generates. I use the Twitter widget mainly to encourage readers to add me to their Twitter lists.
Steven Streight has a good summary of some available Widgets.
Contests: This is one area that I’ve been thinking about for some time. I will definitely have a contest or two in the near future. It seems like a good way to reward current readers and hopefully attract some new ones.
Advertising: I have also thought about doing some advertising. TDavid suggests Google Adwords. I may give it a try, but I have no idea how much bang for your buck you’d get from say, a $250 purchase. I like his idea about doing a post on the experience to get some added value.
TDavid then provides some effective, cost-free ways to promote your blog.
I used to do trackbacks a lot more than I do now. I need to start doing them more, because they worked. I think commenting on other blogs is also a way to get in front of potential new readers. TDavid has several more good ideas.
This I know: no one is going to read your blog just because you write it. And the be a good soldier, write hard and wait to be discovered technique is too remote to be a good bet. We all have to do something to attract readers.
What do you do to promote your blog?
I’ll add links to any posts addressing this topic here, so others can read them too.