The phenomenon of blogging has been with us for several years now. The novelty’s disappeared and maintaining a blog has become a standard method of self-expression or self-promotion for everyone from bored teenagers to major corporations. Government departments and major news sites across the world are employing blogging as a means to quickly and cheaply connect with a potentially huge number of readers. Whether you intend to blog as a means of marketing new products or services or simply wish to share your thoughts and feelings with the world, it’s important to remember that blogging is a completely different art form to traditional writing or print media.
A Blog Should Be an Audio-Visual Experience
The most successful blogs make use of all the wonderful tools that the internet provides us with. Breaking up lengthy tracts of text with images and videos is one way to make the most of the medium’s potential. Image and video sharing sites, such as Photoshack or YouTube, provide users with easy click-and-copy HTML coding that makes embedding audio-visual extras within your blog easy.
Engage with your Readers
The comments section of blogs allows the blog’s creator to instantly interact with anyone whose taken an interest in their post. This is perhaps the greatest advantage blogging has over traditional print media. Whereas most magazines and newspapers include a letters page buried somewhere towards the back, blogging makes an exchange of opinions an integral part of the experience.
If you’re running a small, new blog, interacting with anyone who feels compelled to leave a comment is a great way to build and maintain an audience. It adds a personal touch and fosters a much stronger bond between the reader and the creator of the blog’s content.
The comments section is equally useful for established brands and bloggers. It allows you to quickly deal with criticism or foster debate, both of which can prove immensely useful in winning over anyone that has taken the time and trouble to seek you out.
It’s also worth keeping a close watch on the comments section to ensure that any inflammatory or derisory remarks are quickly deleted. Most blogging platforms allow you to customize the type of comments you allow. You may choose to allow anyone who passes by to leave an anonymous comment, or at the other end of the spectrum, you may only accept comments from registered users that you’re given a chance to view first before deciding on whether or not to display them before the general public.
Choosing the Right Blogging Platform
The two big players in the world of blogging are WordPress and Google’s Blogger. The main difference between the two sites is that Google’s Blogger service will allow you to plaster your blog in ads, whereas WordPress will only allow those who pay a subscription to include links on their blog that primarily exist to generate income from it. If you are considering paying for your blog, WordPress becomes the more attractive option, with a far greater level of customization being available. WordPress allows paying users to completely mask all of their own branding and imbed the blog on their own web site, which has led to the platform becoming popular with scores of major companies and organizations.
Cross-Promotion with Other Bloggers
The interactive world of blogging has an air of community about it. Many people who maintain personal blogs find their following growing as they swap links and comments with other bloggers. Adding constructive comments to other blogs with a link back to your own is one great way to generate traffic, although it’s important not to simply plaster other people’s posts with unrelated links back to your own blog, as this will likely quickly be identified as spam by other readers or the blog’s owner, neither of whom will want anything to do with you afterwards!
Larger organizations can also use established blogs and bloggers as a relatively cheap way to advertise. Offering free products or services to a prominent blogger in exchange for a plug on his or her site will likely prove far cheaper than any traditional media advertising campaign. Given that popular bloggers are likely to have built up the trust of a large readership, it’s also likely that positive comments from then will hold far more weight with potential customers than traditional advertising.
Search Engine Optimization on Every Post
It’s a maxim of the S.E.O. industry that new content is a great way to improve upon a site’s search ranking. While many companies will wish to direct users to a central ‘landing page’, which will necessarily be optimized for a relatively narrow range of keywords, the nature of a blog allows you to create posts that exist simply for targeting specific niche searches and generate traffic for the blog as a whole.
Utilizing a free directory submission tool to build quality links is helpful as well.
Maintaining Multiple Blogs
You may find that you wish to include pretty varied content within your blog. This might make running multiple blogs a good idea. WordPress and Blogger both allow users unlimited free blogs. Keeping divergent content separated on different blogs is a good way to build a focused blog that is more likely to maintain the interest of its intended audience. It can also be a promotion tool within itself, with a blog based around a popular subject helping drive traffic to the stuff you really want to blog about.
Blogs that build to the release of a new product or service are also a great idea. Keeping this specific content separate from the rest of a company or organization’s web presence can help any other sites or blogs feel ‘cleaner’ and more focused. It gives you far more freedom to fill a blog with a wealth of information that can help build anticipation for an upcoming release. For example, many video game developers now run ‘development blogs’, which provide in-depth information on each new feature of a game or stage of the development process. These often help generate a buzz around a new game and have the added advantage of sourcing a wide variety of opinions on all aspects of the new product.
Readers are far more likely to buy an end product that they feel they’ve played some part in creating, while generating controversy through suggesting innovations that are removed in the face of criticism has a track record of massive buzz generation. The backlash against New Coke helped increase sales for Coca-Cola once the old stuff was reintroduced; budget airline Ryanair regularly attracts press coverage in the UK with suggested cost-cutting measures such as removing seats or baggage allowances, none of which come into being.