Saturday, April 24, 2010

Social Media Matters: Becoming a successful blogger takes many skills

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Friday, April 23, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Pg. F5, Metro section

This week and next week, I'll be writing about blogging. I run two blogs and am a guest blogger on another one. Since I started my main blog in 2006, I've posted more than 3,000 items.

* What's a blog? If you're still not sure what a blog is, it's short for "web log," basically an online diary or log on anything that interests you. Your blog can be about your own personal life to something more niche market like a blog about your favourite hobby, such as knitting, pets, scrapbooking, cars, collectibles, etc.

* How do I get a blog? There are several free online platforms that provide blogging, including Google Blogger, WordPress, TypePad and others. Currently, I use Blogger, which is completely free. I'm able to do what I need there, including posting videos and photos. It's pretty much idiot-proof and very easy to you use. You can have a professional-looking blog set up in minutes.

I'm also in the process of learning WordPress, which is a bit more complicated than Blogger, but much more versatile. That particular blog will be a niche-market blog on social media. While I realize there are tons of those out there, it's something that I'm passionate about -- and that's the most important thing to do when you're blogging: blog about something you're passionate about! If you're good, the readers will come.

* How do I get people to read my blog? First of all, update often... a few times per week. On my personal blog, I try to update every day. With that said, most blogging programs will allow you to schedule posts. You can easily set up posts in advance to go online at a pre-set time.

Register your blog in the most popular search engines, especially Google. That is the search engine from which most of my traffic comes. Another thing you need to do in order to gain followers is to comment on other people's blogs. Often, they and their readers will click on your name to read your profile and then visit your blog.

With so many people on Facebook and Twitter these days, it's a no-brainer to post your blog links on these two social media platforms. I promote this column and my other columns through my blog and also post the links online to Facebook and Twitter when appropriate and timely. My traffic has definitely gone up since I started posting to Facebook and Twitter. These are also excellent ways for your friends to share your links, as well. The easier you make it for people to share your links, the more hits you'll get on your blog!

You can also set up feeds for your blog that will alert people whenever your blog is updated. Again, this is kind of a no-brainer unless you decide to provide "full feeds" or "partial feeds." This depends on how altruistic you are, I guess. If you provide a full feed, you're basically providing subscribers with the entire text of your blog post, negating any need to go to your blog. While this is convenient for your readers (which could be a good thing for you), it also can do a lot of damage to your traffic statistics. It's kind of like reading a newspaper article without having to buy the newspaper or even -- at least -- read the newspaper's website.

Personally, I'm not a fan of full feeds. I want people to actually visit my blog. While they're there, they may click on an ad or read other items that may interest them.

* Making money on your blog: You can make money on your blog, even if it's just a hobby. There are many ways to do this, but the easiest for most beginners is just to set up Google AdSense. This is very easy if you use Google's Blogger service, like I do.

Google will place either text link ads or graphic banner ads on whichever sections of your blog that you've chosen. Have I made money? Yes, a bit. I would make much more if I concentrated on learning Google AdSense strategies more and had a niche-market blog that got a lot of traffic. Because my blog is general and personal, my traffic is only modest. I may get a cheque or two per year from Google. (Cheques are only sent out after you hit $100 U.S. in your account.)

You can earn money by either the numbers of eyeballs who see your ads or by people clicking on your ads. And don't get the bright idea of clicking on your own ads to earn more income. Google frowns up on this and has ways of knowing. You will be banned if you're caught doing this. If 100 people per day go to your blog and your ads are getting 500 clicks daily, trust me, the red flags will be flying at Google pretty fast!

Google puts ads on your website based on what you're writing about. If you post about knitting, you'll notice the ads are about knitting. That's why having a general blog like me takes forever to earn income because my ads are all over the place (subject-wise). If I had a niche-market blog -- let's say, again, about knitting -- then the only people coming to my blog would be knitters and, of course, they would be much more interested in all those ads about knitting, right? Right! If they're interested, they may click.

Another way of earning an income while blogging is affiliate programs, i.e. selling thing like e-books by another author, courses, etc. You can even sell your own e-book. If you write an e-book about how to knit and have a popular knitting blog, why not sell the e-book through your blog? If you sell it for $9.95 per copy, you can earn some extra cash with virtually no outlay of money.

* Keep it professional! If you decide to blog, remember that spelling is important. If you can't spell, use a spellchecker! A blog full of typos is a blog that will go unread and lack credibility. The blog represents you. If it's a mess of typos, it will reflect negatively on you and your efforts, even if you're an expert in your field.


Ray Hiltz said...

Another great blog post, Brian. I tried to write a comment last night but was out and only had my iPod Touch. Love my toy, but not great for posting from.

As always, I am surprised how similar a path we're on with this "passion" for social media. Not being a tech geek, I struggle with the technical challenges of setting up & maintaining websites i.e., key words, SEO etc.. But I am determined to learn enough so that I can more effectively study social media for it's cultural ramifications.

I truly believe that this ready access to "mass communication" (Remember when they actually had courses named that?) will change how we interact with each other.

What's changed is that mass communication is now really mass individual communication.

Thanks again, always look forward to my weekly dose of Social Media Matters - because I really believe it does. (I'll hit the post button as soon as I run my spell check LOL)

Brian Cormier said...

Thanks so much for the kind comments! Really appreciate the support and spreading the word! :) Social media is so interesting. I certainly share your passion and interest in the subject.