I BLOG. HE BLOGS. SHE BLOGS. YOU BLOG?
I have been threatening for some time to do a several part series on online survival. I receive at least five emails a day that have to do with blogging, living online, promoting online, existing online, surviving online, sometimes getting offline.
These days it feels like everyone has a blog. Blogs are the new screenplays. Like many things some work and some don’t. There is no sure way to make it work, but there are some solid roads you can take and things you can do that will help you out.
WHO SHOULD BLOG? WHO SHOULD HAVE A WEBSITE? WHO SHOULD DO BOTH?
If you are your own product, a writer, an artist, designer, or make something and want to sell it, and that can be anything you need a website. If you are in business these days and you don’t have one you are sunk.
I can’t tell you how many people with businesses I have blogged about and there has been nothing to link it to. It’s nice if there is a blog or some personal commentary that goes with these.
A built in business expense before cards with your name on it should be a site. They can be fancy if you can afford it or you can bargain with a tech savvy student but you must have a site that is up to date and really represents whatever it is you are trying to sell.
Up to date is important. Sometimes I log on to something and see it has not been updated for three years. Click.
People now are often judged first by their online persona. Think about it, you hear something, a name, a place, a destination, an item and the first response is “Google” Your online view is more often than not the first time people see you. So make sure when you are Googled you have everything the way you want it. Make sure you represent yourself so others online are not the only people speaking for you.
If you are selling items or there are items for sale that you have produced have an Amazon link, or link to whoever sells that product.
If you sell something yourself set up a PayPal account. If you sell clothing and can’t sell it online yourself, (which I think is a huge mistake) then have every link to where it can be bought. Make it easy, this is the answer to almost every online issue, if you don’t someone else is and they are only a click away.
Have your press there. Show people that others have tried the product and like it. If you don’t have public press, get friends to write reviews.
If you are a writer have your reviews, leave out the bad ones if you want. I tend to put them all up unless they are out and out character assaults. Have links to your Facebook Page, your Twitter Page and yes if you are selling ANYTHING you must do that.
I know – I hear it all the time “I can’t do that Twitter thing or the Facebook thin.” Well, you can’t afford to take that stance. Your competitors are doing it and they will win the race.
I will deal with those things another day.
There probably is no real reason to blog and then there are 1000 why you should. Blogging is a constant way to keep you in the public eye. It is a way for you to control your public image. It is a way for you to sell yourself and this then makes it easier to sell a product. It’s a way for people to get to know you and connect to you so they will want to buy whatever it is your are out there selling. It’s many, many things. From foodies to mommy bloggers, if you have something to say and do it well you will find a following. And most days it is really fun.
You do not need a fancy website to blog. In fact if you are just flexing your blogging muscles I would say don’t do the website. They are expensive and require care and feeding. There are many terrific sites that are free or charge a nominal sum that most bloggers use. I will include a list of all services at the end of this series, but off the top of my head Blogspot, WordPress, TUMBLR, Blogger are ones I see people use the most.
THE BIGGEST MISTAKE BLOGGERS MAKE
The thing I tell everyone who asks me and even some who don’t is if you are going to blog you have to blog. I have grand-mothered many bloggers at this point, and sometimes I get plaintive emails or calls, “I can’t build my following. I don’t get comments. Nobody is reading me.”
First off it takes time, unless you are very famous or attached to something that everyone knows about it is a slow build.
When I started I had certain goals to attain by certain times. But I gave myself literally years to do it in. I started my website before I started blogging to promote and sell my documentary Lucky Ducks. My first blogs were about parenting as that was the topic of the film.
But I also knew I would have a book coming out two years later that was about something totally different, so in time I changed my topic. These are things you have to think about. Who are you talking to and why?
So give yourself time to build it out. Many people wait until just before they launch a line or a book is published or a film is finished or a store is about to open, that does not work. You have to think ahead, there is a lot going on on the net, you have to carve out your niche and that does not happen overnight.
The other way to build your readership is send your stuff into the world through as many outlets as you can. When you blog put it on your Facebook Page. Tweet it. Find other sites that will pick it up. Send it out, ask people to post it. You may only pick up one reader but one loyal follower is a lot and leads to many more.
DO IT, DO IT, DO IT
Aside from thinking in chunks of time and working slowly towards something the other HUGE thing is consistency.
If you want to build a following you have to be consistent. Go look at any of the really good bloggers or even bloggers or sites you may not like but have followings, they turn it in either everyday, every other day or as my friend Richard Nahem of EyePreferParis does four days in a row, then he takes 3 days off.
The only way you can attract a following is by becoming a habit for people and if you only blog when the urge strikes or when you have something profound to say you will not build a loyal following. And a loyal, growing and engaged fan base is what you want.
I learned that for me writing every other day works best. In the beginning I blogged every day and it was too much. But you have to make that commitment. Yes, you end up putting crap blogs up there as you really have nothing to say. Or you go into your photo library and throw something together at midnight.
Talk to any blogger or watch any who do it all the time you always find what I call drive thru blogs on their sites.
Seth Godin who is a master blogger and blogging Guru had a one sentence blog this week. But he has something there every day; most days it’s gold.
If you are not willing to make that commitment and you’re not Ashton Kutcher, Rachel Zoe or Sarah Palin don’t bother.
ENCOURAGE COMMENTS AND RESPOND
Make it easy for people to comment and respond. Comments are often like little fan letters or signs of appreciation so respond in kind. I try and always welcome new readers and reply to their comments. I don’t reply to every comment but now that I have DISQUS it makes it easier to respond. Fred Wilson and Gotham Gal taught me this. Fred gets hundreds of comments and responds to most of them, as does Joanne aka Gotham Gal.
Know when to cut it off. This is too long. There is too much to say on this topic.
Day after tomorrow Blogging Tools.