Strangely enough, for all the years I’ve been writing about blogging and for all the articles on this blog that are about blogging (more than 25%, 443, are specifically about blogging), I almost never get any email from anyone asking questions that I’ve either covered or not covered. I figure that means everyone who’s online must already know these things… right?

Chris Pirillo
Phillip Jeffrey via Compfight

Maybe not. This past week I got an email from someone who’s just started blogging and, at an event the other night, someone who’s thinking about blogging, and they asked some general questions that inspired some answers from me.

I decided to not only write about it, but not necessarily include the questions. Therefore, I’m only posting answers, 6 in fact, that I gave to these folks, in the order I gave the answers. See, this is called being creative because I’m sure I’ve written some of these things before in a different way. It never hurts to reinforce stuff as long as you can find a way to change it up I say.

So, let’s get on with it.

First, the best way to grow a blog is to promote it in a few different ways. The fastest is blog commenting, though that one can be a bit more time consuming. If people love your comments they’ll often follow you back to your space. This is my favorite way of getting the job done, but not the only way.

Many people who suggest blog commenting say it’s best to try to find blogs that are in your niche to do it. That’s not a bad idea but don’t be so finite that it’s hard to find blogs that fit.

For instance, if you’re writing material that might apply mainly to younger people it wouldn’t hurt you to find some sites geared towards younger people, or young people making it good. Someone whose radar wouldn’t hurt to get on is Chelsea Krost, a millennial who’s got a TV show and is an up and comer.

Another place is on Twitter, as there are lots of clients that allow you to schedule posts to show there when they go live, and then you can schedule previous posts also, as well as add hashtags. That strategy works great.

The Dave Olson Show on Podcasting
Megan Cole via Compfight

LinkedIn is one last place to advertise yourself. You can write articles specifically for LinkedIn in your niche and put your links in the content that match up with what you’re talking about. They also give you the opportunity to add tags at the end of each post; the problem with that is they define the tags, so you either have to try to fit into one of their options or take a chance and don’t use one at all; let the people find you. lol

Second, guest posting is a way to help get noticed… kind of. I have to admit I’m not all that big on guest posting as a strategy, though it’s touted often enough. The problems with guest posting are:

* the audience might not follow you back
* The owner of the blog might not like your style
* you could end up being one of those people who Google contacts and says your link strategy is dodgy and then you’ll have to contact people to remove your links and get some of them (like me) to be irked with you. lol

Having said that, if you want to pursue a guest posting strategy find either high ranking blogs or try to get onto something like Huffington Post. Those are considered authority sites and there’s no way you can get in trouble there… unless what you say isn’t true. lol Anyway, if you know how to write but might not be ready for HuffPo, there are sites like my buddy Ileane’s Basic Blog Tips, who likes helping new bloggers get noticed… as long as you’re writing about topics she talks about on her blog. You can always use search engines to find blogs that accept guest posts on your topic (if you see any sites recommending Top Finance Blog as one of those sites and you write on finance, it’s incorrect; trust me on this one).

Third, think about hosting your own site instead of using WordPress.com, Blogger, etc. The reason is that free blog sites are somewhat restrictive if you have bigger plans for your blog. It’s hard to market products through them, as well as setting up PPC (pay per click)campaigns. If you’re either hoping to get consulting gigs and clients or entice advertisers you definitely need to be self hosted. Owning a blog that you’re paying for eliminates any potential hassles and totally protects your content.

BlogFest 2012
Gianluca Neri via Compfight

You do need to know that it’s not always easy to do things on your own initially. There are lots of things to learn, whether you use WordPress software (like I do), Drupal, Joomla or any other types of things. Once you figure the basics out you’ll be fine. If you want to learn more you can always go to the search engines for more help; if you need WordPress help, you can find a lot of stuff on this blog.

Fourth… and I hesitate to bring this one up since I stopped on one of my blogs, but you could allow guest posting. I used to allow it on my finance blog and truthfully, at one point my blog was ranked really high because of guest posts.

However, I’m an independent consultant, and once I started traveling more I found that the time to correct so many horribly written posts didn’t feel like a great use of my time. I might have been making around $500 a month via advertising but that wasn’t enough to get the bills paid. And when those letters started arriving asking me to remove links… oy!

If that doesn’t bother you then go for it. A better strategy is to every once in a while ask someone you trust to write a guest post for you if you’re comfortable with it. That way they look like more of an authority and your readers will like that. I’ve done that for many people, written something for them based on a request, but only people whom I’ve talked to at least a year online, or when someone’s in trouble.

Fifth, let’s talk about quality vs quantity. It’s not too early to talk about this, even if you might not have much quantity early on.

The question some ask often is which is better. The truth is… it depends.

There’s this discussion lately about whether it’s better to write 3 or 4 posts a week with length between 400 and 500 words or one really long post a week that’s between 3,000 and 10,000 words (yeah, scary isn’t it?). It’s not a simple thing to answer.

For each of these, one has to determine whether the content is high quality content or not. This is something you’ll see many people mention as the basis for all blogs but not define; at the link I shared I tell you what it is.

Northern Voice tiki dinner 2008
Derek K. Miller
via Compfight

So, say you’re writing a blog that’s like a tutorial, and you cover only one aspect of what you’re teaching per post. Probably each post will be relatively short, but it’s probably high quality because you’re teaching something, and writing 3 or 4 articles a week like that would be great.

As long as you’re not leaving stuff out that makes your advice worthless, that’s good content. However, if you’re writing something and you say “write good content” and that’s it, that’s bad content because not only didn’t explain what it is, but you said the same thing thousands of people before you said.

One more thing before I go to long posts. A reality is the more you write, the higher your blog will rank. The problem is that high rankings don’t always equate to lots of traffic nor targeted traffic, which you care about if you’re hoping to do any type of business with others. Thus, you need to keep an eye on your visits and other things that involve traffic; I’ll come back to that.

Long posts… let’s begin here. I used to be considered as someone who writes lots of long posts. Yesterday, on my business blog, I wrote a post that came to 1,994 words because I celebrated my 14th year as an independent consultant and wrote some thoughts about it all. I didn’t start out planning on it being that long (pretty much like this post); it just turned out that way.

These days, people are advocating really long posts; I already gave numbers above. I’ve seen some brilliant long posts… just not all that many. What’s the problem?

The problems are twofold.

One, many of the long posts will repeat things over and over. They don’t seem to be all that focused. I made a comparison in a video talking about blog post length (and Kool Aid; check it out lol) with kids who used to have to write 10 page papers in school and how they’d write 4 pages and, because they didn’t know what to do next, would start repeating things they’d already said to stretch papers out. No one wants to read that.

Two, they put so many things into a single post that it might as well be a booklet that someone can print. It started out well, then got so deep that it starts to confuse the reader. Tutorials in this fashion work great; not many other types of posts do.

So, before you go that route, think seriously about it. The people who write one really long post a week (sometimes one every 2 weeks) put a lot of time and research into it. Some folks burn out having to write what’s essentially a term paper every 2 weeks. If I had to do that I probably wouldn’t still be blogging after 10 years, which I’m up to right now.

Before I go to #6, let me say that I started out with the intention of writing 10 answers. However, I noticed how long this post is so I’m shortening it and getting to one last really good question to answer. Thank me later. lol

blogging

Sixth, if you have a business it’s not imperative that you have a blog, but it can certainly help. I actually wrote about businesses and blogging last year. If you check out that post you’ll see links to tons of other blogging tips that will be helpful; I promise.

In that post I talked about having a better presence on search engines than your competitors if you have a blog, but didn’t say why. The reason is that most businesses set up a blog, hopefully have someone who optimized it well enough so that search engines know what they do, and never touch it again until they want to update the site later on.

Search engines love new content. They send out what’s called spiders or bots (depends on who you’re talking to) throughout the internet looking to see what’s old and new. Sites with new content get visited more regularly, which is good if you’re adding great content (refer to link above) that keeps highlighting what you talk about or what your business does. Sites that don’t do anything will fall, and unless it’s a niche with very few people in it, they’ll get no search engine benefit from being online.

As a for instance, I write the blog for my accountant’s firm (we trade my articles for free accounting; yeah!). Out of all the accountants in town, per Alexa, her site is the highest ranked in the area for accounting services. There are better known companies because she’s been in business for herself about 3 years now, but she really only has one true competitor when it comes to online rankings (they’re close, but my client’s site is doing better; I’ll take a moment for myself…). And that’s with only 2 new articles a month; if I was writing once a week it wouldn’t be a contest. 🙂

I think that’s enough for a Thursday morning. I actually said a lot more to the other guys but this post is already over 2,000 words. What do you think of my advice? Anything you want to add? Anything you want to ask about?

I have a contact page over there to the left where my email address is if you wish to have me write about something you’d like to know more about. Enjoy!
 

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