Every now and again I have friends ask me how I got started in blogging. How they can “live the life” we bloggers live. They want to “pick my brain.” I know a lot of bloggers are shaking their heads right now. First suggestion: don’t use that phrase when you’re talking to a blogger. We don’t really like to have our brains picked. Brains are a vital part of us and picking brains is just gross.
Many of those friends have already created their blog (if you haven’t, read Mom Blogging: How do I start? first). But now they’re stuck. Things aren’t just happening. They want to know why people aren’t reading their words on the internet. They ask what I’ve done to make Julieverse more visible in the enormous internet world. With over 3.9 million moms blogging, what can bloggers do to put their blogs on the map? What should they do to take their mom blog to the next level?
I’m lucky, I got my start elsewhere. I’ve been working on webpages and social media since… hmmm… 1999? Which makes me… elderly. I moved into Mom Blogging when I became a writer with Mommies with Style in 2005. In 2009, I realized I wanted my own space to write my own thoughts. Writing for someone else definitely helps. It’s not easy to get a gig like that, but it’s definitely important to build a portfolio, and you can do that by offering to write for people you know, or submitting your writing to sites such as Blogher and Type-A Parent.
Building a successful blog takes time
If you’re jumping in fresh, you should know that before you start to really gain a following, you’re going to need to do it, actively, for about a year, at least, for your site to be noticed and to have enough meat to begin to make a difference. You should also plan to write for others while you’re working on your blog which will give you opportunities to get to know other blogs, link to your own site, and be introduced to their readers.
Join similar groups: online and offline
It helps to become active in local and national groups. In the Philadelphia region, we have Philly Social Media Moms. We’re very fortunate. Most cities don’t have an active group like this. Ask around, though. Almost everyone knows someone who knows someone who can help you get involved. Consider joining forums like those on Mom Bloggers Club and your local Social Media Club (for those serious about getting into Social Media.) There are an uncountable number of support groups on Facebook. Search Facebook’s groups to find blog groups within your interests.
Get out and go. Sure, blogging is an online thing, but so much of blogging is networking that you really do need to get out there and meet people. If you absolutely can’t do it in real life at conferences or events, then become really active in Mom Blogging forums or on Twitter, where you should follow bloggers that you relate to, big and small. On Facebook, make sure that you “like” or “fan” your favorite blogs to keep up and see what they’re doing. Interact on Facebook using your page login to comment on people’s posts.
Attend conferences, workshops and webinars
Nearly every week there’s another workshop or conference announced. Select a few and attend them, not just to learn (and you’ll learn a lot) but also to network. Two great starter conferences include Bloggy Boot Camp and Type-A Parent, as well as Blogher.
Bloggy Boot Camp, which partnered with Women Get Social, is a one-day conference that moves from city to city every few months, teaching the basics and helping bloggers to network. Type-A Parent hosts one major conference each year which brings several hundred social media professionals to the event. The learning sessions vary from beginner to more advanced engagement. The largest conference, Blogher, is a great way to jump in to the blogging world. There’s something for everyone there, but it can also be overwhelming because it’s so large.
There are also countless other programs, including webinars and local workshops.
Read other blogs and engage
Create an RSS group of blogs that you aspire to be like or blogs that you like to read. Your blog will be your own, because it’s your voice, but it’s a great idea to have role models.
When you read something you love, comment on it and say why. Most times that people comment on Julieverse, I’m prompted to visit their sites, usually commenting back.
If you read something good enough to share, do it. Decide if you should tweet, facebook share, or stumble, and give a reason you’re doing it. A simple “great read!” or “really made me think” is fine, even better is asking a question or giving a brief commentary because you’re engaging with the writer, which helps to build a community.
Tweet and Facebook for your blog
If you quote someone from your site, link to the post that you quoted, then share with a tweet. Sharing by tweeting with a link will guide them to your post and may begin an engaging conversation with that writer or, at least, a retweet. Something like “I quoted @juliempron’s tips for getting somewhere in Social Media. [your link here]” works well. That would prompt me to reply, retweet, click through, read and comment.
Regarding tweeting, while retweeting (RT) someone else is very nice and recommended, conversation is SO important. Twitter is about forming relationships and engaging with others. Ask questions, but don’t be spammy. I’d much rather talk with you on twitter without you sending me an irrelevant link. It’s far more personal. So tweet this “@juliempron, saw your post about your weekend in NOLA. Who made your dress? [then link to the relevant post on my site that shows my dress you’re asking about: http://bit.ly/ijW1P7 }.” Do not tweet “@justprecious Learn about rocketships! [link to a rocketship post on your site]” <–that is spam because I have no interest in rocketships and never have had or shown interest in rocketships. Really.
Start a Facebook Page and post to that, rather than your personal account. The marketing reasons are limitless, for starters: it’s professional and you can have fans on Facebook without having to be friends with them. Keep your personal account personal, your friends will appreciate that. Invite them to “like” your facebook page and, every now and then, share your relevant posts on your personal page.
My friends Colleen Padilla and Audrey McClelland co-authored The Digital Mom Handbook: How to Blog, Vlog, Tweet, and Facebook Your Way to a Dream Career at Home, which is full of excellent tips. (I’m featured in the book, too! So let me know what you think when you read it!)
The way you write matters. We can’t all be SEO gurus, but we can all have an understanding. Download an e-copy of Kelby Carr’s book, Mom Blog SEO – 30 Days to Boost Traffic, Readers, Influence and Income. It’s a great step-by-step way to improve your marketing.
For those creating or analyzing the effectiveness of your blog, check out Melissa Culbertson’s Blog Design For Dummies.
If you’re just getting started in blogging, read my post: Mom Blogging: How do I start? which will lead you through setting up your blog, leading you to writing your first blog post.
Good luck and enjoy growing!
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