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Last year I decided to review my posts to see which ones had attracted the most readers. (I posted them here: Top 10 Publishing Posts of 2015.)

Not surprisingly, the posts which garnered the most readers were about major publishers (notably HarperCollins) opening their doors to unagented writers. (HarperCollins' brief excursion into democratic operations has since been abandoned.)

This year, I encountered a problem when I simply looked at numbers of views per post. My Free Contests posts, and Calls for Submissions posts, had gotten so many views that they encompassed all of my Top 10. So, I moved down to the next category, which was Agents Seeking Clients. These also had gathered many thousands of views. (You can see all the agents looking for writers by clicking on the link.) 8 Literary Agents Seeking Horror NOW, for example, had gotten 5,060 views.

In all fairness, I had to discount all of those posts as well, and move on to my next category, which had to do with marketing and promotion. Without further ado, here are those top ten posts, in descending order. I hope you will find them useful.


#10 8 Ways to Use Goodreads to Promote Your Book (1310 views)

#9 How to Use Pinterest to Build an Audience (For Writers) (1370 views)

#8 15 Magazines That Pay $500 or More (1740 views)

#7 13 Paying Markets for Personal Essays (1897 views)

#6 6 Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts from Writers (2074 views)

#5 Promoting Your Scifi or Fantasy Novel on Social Media (2084 views)

#4 Top 10 Sites for Indie Authors (2189 views)

#3 82 UK Literary Agencies Seeking Clients (3249 views)

#2 175 Literary Magazines Accepting Reprints (5294 views)

And my top post was (drum roll) ...

#1 272 Paying Markets for Short Stories, Poetry, Nonfiction (7326 views)


Runners-up

Mega-List of Agents Looking for Memoirs (and other Nonfiction)

What a Trump Presidency Means for Writers 

18 Paying Markets for Humor 

 
 
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If you are a writer, you absolutely must keep a blog. Why? Because blogs are a great way for agents and/or editors to see how you write informally and, of course, your fans will enjoy reading your blog posts.

The problem faced by bloggers is the same faced by up-and-coming writers. How will people find you? If you have not yet published a book (and even if you have) it is difficult to make yourself known in the vast Blogosphere.

Fortunately, there are many ways to promote your posts. You can precycle by publishing your posts on other well-trafficked sites first, you can guest post, you can also post links to your posts on various platforms.

A few sites also allow you to recycle your posts. That is, you can re-publish your posts on another, larger, platform. (See LinkedIn, Medium, Scriggler, and Niume below.)

When you re-post, remember to include a call to action at the end. The call to action is a simple statement of who you are and what your blog is about, along with a link. It should inspire people to check out your blog.

As a case in point, here is my call to action:

Erica Verrillo has published five books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on how to get an agent, lists agents who are looking for clients as well as publishers accepting manuscripts directly from writers, explains how to market and promote your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews, how to self-publish, and where to find markets for your work on Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity.

The following are the sites I have found to be the most productive in terms of generating traffic to my blog.
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Google+ - Google Plus is an excellent platform for bloggers. There you will find numerous writing communities of all stripes: marketing for authors, self-publishing, fantasy writers, poetry, horror, sci-fi writers, bloggers - you name it, there's a community for it. If you haven't already, set up your Google Plus profile, and join the appropriate communities. Once you've joined, you can post links to your relevant blog posts on community boards. You can also post your writing, depending on the community rules. (Make sure you read those rules before you post!)

Because you only post a link to your post along with a short intro, Google Plus directly increases traffic to your blog. There is no need for a call to action, although you should make sure to place the name of your blog at the top of your intro. An additional benefit is that people on Google Plus groups are likely to recommend your post to others.

LinkedIn - LinkedIn, the world's largest professional network, allows members to publish blog posts. You can either compose a post, or simply copy and paste your blog posts onto your LinkedIn blog. There is no predicting how many people will see your post. Most of my LinkedIn posts have gotten a less than impressive response, but a few have gotten over 10,000 views, so don't forget your call to action on these posts!

Like Google Plus, LinkedIn has groups. Because LinkedIn is aimed primarily at professionals, the discussions tend to focus on practical aspects of writing. This is an ideal place to share experience, advice, and tips.

Medium - Medium was developed by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. The idea was to create a platform for both amateurs and professionals featuring publications that operated as a form of social journalism. Since its inception, the platform has changed, and bloggers can no longer simply add their posts to publications. (Adding posts to publications is now by invitation.) Even though the new restriction cuts down on traffic, it is possible to generate tens of thousands of views on Medium because it is directly connected to Twitter. All of your Twitter followers who are also on Medium will automatically become your Medium followers.

Medium does not have a lot of bells and whistles. You can easily upload images and do basic formatting, but not much else. On the plus side, you can import blog posts, which eliminates tedious copying and pasting. In general, Medium has a nice clean look, which makes posts easy to read. Medium followers are also more apt to look at your profile. While, like LinkedIn, most of my posts on Medium have only generated a modest number of views, occasionally one will take off, generating tens of thousands of views. For that reason alone, it's worth it to post on Medium.

Niume - Niume is a relatively new collaborate blogging platform. It groups posts into Spheres, which are collections sharing a similar theme. When you sign up for Niume, you will be asked to join five Spheres. (Choose those which most closely conform to your blog topics.) After you've joined you can publish your blog posts in any of those Spheres.)

Niume is a little more cumbersome than Medium. It does not allow direct imports of blog posts, and when you copy and paste all your formatting and links will be lost. As far as followers are concerned you will be starting from scratch. (However, the number of views for any given post is entirely unrelated to followers.) Niume also ranks Niumers by "hype" which is a concept I cannot explain to you, because I don't have any idea how it is calculated. (Sometimes, one of my posts will get a lot of reads but no hype. Even more confusing, sometimes a post gets hype but few reads. Go figure.) As Niumers accumulate hype, they advance in rank and influence, which means the posts they give a thumbs up to will gain more hype. The "leaderboard" of each sphere ranks Niumers with the most hype by week, month and all time.

Scriggler - Unlike the other platforms mentioned here, Scriggler is entirely devoted to writers and writing. Once you've signed up, you can post stories, news, and opinion. (Opinion is a good place for blog posts.) Scriggler also sponsors writing contests.

Because Scriggler caters to writers, it actively promotes stories that are posted on the site. Scriggler sends a Publication of the Day to everyone who joins the site, and actively tweets new stories and opinion pieces. Members are enthusiastic, and happy to leave comments.

Reddit - Reddit advertises itself as "the front page of the Internet." Its demographic is young men who have some college education. You can post links to your blog posts on various subreddits, provided that you join first. Subreddits are moderated. Here is a list of subreddits for writers: Reddit for Writers.

Facebook - With well over a billion active users, Facebook is the undisputed king of social media. Posts that go "viral" often do so because of Facebook. (One of my Medium posts got 25,000 views in 48 hours because of Facebook.) If you don't already have a Facebook page, open one, gather up some "friends" and start posting your blog.

In addition to your own Facebook page, there are dozens of public Facebook groups for writers where you can post anything related to writing. If you don't have a lot of "friends" on Facebook, this is a marvelous opportunity! Some of these groups have tens of thousands of members. Start with this list: 39 Facebook Groups for Authors.

#MondayBlogs on Twitter - Author Rachel Thompson started #MondayBlogs as a convenient vehicle for bloggers to share their posts. Every Monday, bloggers tweet their most recent (and/or most interesting) blog posts using the hashtag #MondayBlogs (don't forget the s). #MondayBlogs is wildly popular, with tens of thousands of tweets. (You can tweet anything EXCEPT your book. No ads or photos are allowed.) Use only 120 characters for your tweets to allow others to re-tweet.

In contrast to tweeting randomly, I've seen a significant bump in my blog traffic on Mondays due to #MondayBlogs, especially when people with lots of followers re-tweet my tweets. Here are additional hashtags for writers: 246 Hashtags for Writers.

Pinterest - Founder Ben Silbermann describes Pinterest as a "catalog of ideas," rather than a social network. It is a convenient and elegant means of storing information using images. So, make sure you have a great image on every single one of your blog posts to encourage your visitors to pin.

You can make a board specifically for your blog. Give it a title that matches what your blog is about to make it easier to find in a search. Describe it as "The Best of ____ (name of your blog goes in the blank)" and make sure to use plenty of popular search terms in your description. (You can find these by typing the first few letters of any term into the search bar. Watch what pops up.)

Forums - There are numerous forums for writers - Writer's Digest ForumWriting ForumsLitopiaMy Writers CircleWriter's Beat,  Absolute Write, to name a few. Most forums discourage posting links to blogs until you have introduced yourself and participated in a few discussions, so make sure you check the forum rules before posting.

For more ideas on how to promote your blog, see DIY Author's, How to Promote Your Blog

Also see:

Precycling: A Great Way to Get the Most Mileage Out of Your Blogs

Flogging your Blog

 
 
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This is the first year I have looked back at my posts. (Normally, once they are up I simply move on to the next exciting idea.)

But, stats are important for various reasons. They tell us what people like to read. They also tell us what people need. Blog posts that provide answers to questions, that inform, and that explain are bound to be popular.

And for writers, anything that answers the question, "How do I get published?" will be warmly received.

(I promise that in 2016 I will continue to provide answers to that question.)

So, without further ado, here are my top ten posts - in reverse order.
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#10 10 Awards for Self-Published Books (1569 views)

#9 Should You Hire a Professional Book Cover Designer? (1948)

#8 Publisher Pan Macmillan Accepting Unsolicited Manuscripts - No Agent Needed (2129 views)

#7 Fantasy and Sci-fi Reviewers  Accepting Self-Published Authors (2616 views)

#6 2 New Agents Seeking Writers (2630 views)

#5 23 Poetry Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts (2729 views)

#4 Speculative Fiction Magazines Accepting Submissions (4127 views)

#3 2 New Agents Seeking Writers: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Nonfiction, Thrillers and more (4727 views)

#2 234 Hashtags for Writers (5759 views)

#1 HarperCollins Seeking Submissions - No Agent Required (15,973 views)

 
 
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If you are new to the blogging scene, you probably don’t have a lot of followers (yet). For aspiring authors, this is a calamity. There you are, pouring your heart and soul into your posts, and nobody is reading them! How will anybody know that you are a gifted writer if your blog is languishing, unhonored and unsung, in cyberspace?

The standard advice to unsung bloggers is to guest post, preferably on a high-profile blog that gets a lot of daily traffic. While this is a good way to build visibility, it can often take months before your blog is posted. (The more popular the blog, the longer the wait.)

A more traditional approach for increasing your visibility is write for ezines (online magazines). Again, this is a time-consuming process. First you have to pitch your idea, then have it approved, and then wait for a slot. For those who need to build a platform now, all that waiting, often followed by the inevitable heartbreak of rejection, can be a strain. A third option is to precycle. 

Let’s say you have written an informative, humorous, moving or any well-written piece that simply screams, "People need to read this!"  In order to get these gems the immediate attention they deserve, you can post them on sites that get a lot of traffic, but don’t involve a long wait. It seems almost too good to be true. 

The only catch is that all of these sites require that your work be 1) original (it is, it is!), and 2) that you post on their site first (it boosts their SEO to have first shot at original pieces). Because these sites are concerned about the quality of submissions, they will want to see examples of your writing before approving you. (This is easy if you’ve been devoting yourself to your writing.) After a short wait, you are good to go.

Where you precycle depends a lot on what you write. Some sites cater to people with a literary bent, others to the contemporary scene, and still others to more practical information and advice. If you do a Google search on “article submission websites” you will find lots of places to precycle.

In the meantime, here are some suggestions:

1) Blogcritics. "A sinister cabal of superior writers."
Everybody who’s anybody reads Blogcritics. (It’s got a global Alexa ranking of 23,796, which is quite good.) The audience tends to be young, so Blogcritics is far and away the best place to post reviews of anything contemporary (music, books, articles, TV shows, movies, culture, politics). But do not despair if you are an old codger. You can post other pieces as well. I’ve posted everything from medical articles to opinion pieces without a hitch. (Take a look at their “features” to get an idea of the range of topics.) The best thing about Blogcritics is that they syndicate their articles. That means your post could end up in an online newspaper. Perhaps in Seattle. Make sure to read their guidelines carefully.

2. Buzzle. "Intelligent life on the web." 
For all you fiction and poetry writers, Buzzle is a gift from heaven. Like Blogcritics, Buzzle appeals to a young audience, but unlike other high-ranking article sites, they welcome fiction and poetry. (Poetry!) Their audience is predominantly female. Buzzle does not allow URL links in their posts.

3. ArticlesBase
This is a high-quality free article site that prefers informative “evergreen” articles. An evergreen article is one that stands the test of time. You can read it a year from now, and it will still be relevant. The reason for their preference is that ArticlesBase, like many other free article services, is a resource for journals and ezines that need an article fast and don’t want to pay for it. Once you submit your article it could appear anywhere. You won’t get paid, but you will get exposure. No anchors or URLs are allowed.

4. BloggingAuthors. "A place where readers and writers meet." 
If you have published something, you can write for BloggingAuthors. In their words, “BloggingAuthors.com is dedicated to helping authors of all genres, including mystery, business, legal thrillers, relationships, non-fiction, spirituality, religion, health, book promotion, and literary fiction.” Though they claim to get 1000 views a day, their Alexa ranking is abysmal. The reason you may want to post here is 1) they include a bio and a backlink to your website and blog, and 2) they tweet. Whenever they post an article it gets tweeted to 7,000 followers. BloggingAuthors is distributed through a weekly mailer.

More Resources:

50 Free Article Submissions Websites

List of top 50 Article Directories by Traffic and Pagerank

Free article tracker


 
 
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First published on Blogging Authors 3/4/13) as "How Writers Can Use Alexa to Build a Platform."

Of the many ranking systems used to evaluate websites, Alexa, an analytics service owned by Amazon, is one of the most popular. In a nutshell, Alexa measures traffic to a website – the more visitors, the higher the rank. (Low numbers indicate a high rank. Number 1, the highest position, is occupied by Google.) Alexa provides data on 30 million websites, and has over 7 million visitors monthly.

How does Alexa gather website information?

Big Brother is not actually watching you. In order to retrieve information on how many people visit a site, Alexa provides a free toolbar. (See below.) Once installed, this toolbar monitors which websites a person visits. That part is fairly straighforward, but not altogther useful. Mere numbers don't give businesses enough information to tailor their marketing efforts, which is why Alexa also gathers data on demographics, such as age and income groups, sex, and region. For marketing purposes, knowing who visits your website, and from where, is crucial information.

There are some drawbacks to the system. The toolbar is most often used by techies, people who specialize in SEO and other analytics. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that tech sites have higher ranking than sites that appeal to people who are more concerned with other types of content – such as literary work. Alexa can't measure the browsing habits of people who don't install the toolbar, which may account for why regional traffic in India is often much higher than the U.S. (India is a major source of website and internet technology.)

How can you make Alexa work for you?

If you have just launched a website, don't even think of trying to improve your Alexa ranking. No matter what you do, your rank is going to be abysmally low (your number will be in the multi-millions), and there is no amount of backlinking, blogging, or giveaways that will get you under 100,000, which is the cut-off point for viewing demographic statistics.

Instead of trying to improve your own ranking, you can use Alexa much in the same way other businesses do. (If you have published a book, in any form, you are a business.) Let's say you would like to increase your visibility as a writer (i.e. build your platform). If your blog isn't getting a lot of traffic, it makes sense to either guest blog or write articles for sites that get significantly more visitors than yours. The easiest way to research the most-trafficked sites for posting guest blogs and articles is by looking at their Alexa ranking. You can get a quick view by installing the toolbar, or you can go the website for more specific data.

I have used Alexa ranking to help decide where I guest blog. Whenever someone publishes an article on the top sites for books, articles or blogs on my topic, I immediately look up their Alexa ranking. If the rank is high (i.e. the number is under 100,000), I check to see who visits the site. If the site appeals to my demographic, I submit a guest blog or article. Chances are, the article will be accepted, because I'm submitting an article geared towards the needs of their market.

Writing requires time and effort. Make sure you get the most out of your labor by placing your work where it will work for you.

Resources:

Alexa
http://www.alexa.com/
     This is where you go to search Alexa rankings. To install the toolbar, click on the tab     "Toolbar." Installation takes a few seconds.

What is Alexa Ranking and Is It Worth Striving For?
http://www.demondemon.com/2012/06/05/what-is-alexa-rank-and-is-it-worth-striving-for/
     This is a nice little article that spells out what Alexa is and does … and doesn't.


 
 
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This is my story. I'm sure you've heard it all before. But I'm hoping that when you're having your coffee and cookies you'll reflect upon my experience – and keep an open mind.

It all started when print publishers got sideswiped by Amazon. I was finishing a book, and, having had several ruinous relationships with publishers (I'm working on those issues), I decided to break the pattern. Why repeat the bitterness, the frustration, when I could simply jump ship and take the easy way out? It all seemed so simple at the time. No more deadlines, no more subtexts in what I'd hoped would be casual encounters, no more editorial blows to my self-esteem. All I had to do was “upload.”

This is a mistake we all make when confronted by our personal demons. We take shortcuts.

Before I knew it, I had gotten my book epublished. Suddenly, reality hit. I had forgotten all about the perks of a long-term relationship – the in-house marketing department, the chain of distribution, legitimate reviews, free ISBN numbers. Worst of all, I had forgotten about book promotion. I'd have to do it all myself.

My first step was to launch a website, which I did after considerable, and unnecessary, expenditure. I was in the hole now, but it wasn't enough – it's never enough. I needed more. I needed a platform, exposure, a strong author presence. So ... I began to blog.

(Excuse me. Does anyone have a tissue?)

It was just one blog, at first. I thought it would be a simple reiteration of work I'd already done - an easy cut-and-paste, with no commitment to originality. I figured two, three blogs a week, and I'd develop my Internet presence. Before I knew it, I was blogging almost daily. My self-concept had expanded, and my author image was changing.

I needed another blog, and then another. Soon I was blogging about everything: my books, my recipes, my parakeet, Thomas Jefferson. I created alter egos, misleading avatars. I could no longer put my real name on anything I blogged for fear that it would affect my author brand. Just trying to remember all my sign-in names was exhausting.

All at once, it dawned on me. What if nobody was reading my blogs? I installed Google Analytics, and, sure enough, I was a solitary blogger. Nobody even knew that I existed.

That was the beginning of the end. I joined several writers' groups whose sole purpose was to promote one another through their blogs. We fed, constantly, on each other's habits, meeting on dim, smoke-filled forums, boards, chats. I began to guest blog.

(I heard that. Remember, live and let live.)

It still wasn't enough. According to the visitor flow chart on Google Analytics, very few people were being driven to my website. I had to drive them. I knew it was base, reprehensible, unforgivable - and I make no excuses for my behavior - but I began to adjust my taglines to suit my hypothetical audience. I even watched Supernatural, so I could blog about horrid, vapid television shows written by dyslexic ten-year-olds, but which were popular among the bloghopping set.

Finally, in a desperate attempt at blog exposure, I started to add my blogs to blog directories. It was getting expensive, but what was $39.95 here, $49.95 there, for a first-page listing? I pinged.

By this time, I had forgotten all about my eBook, which technically had now cost me several thousand dollars if you included the fees for Google Adwords, priority listings on blog directories, and upgrades. At this point, I was in deep denial. The book no longer mattered. My bills went unpaid. My house was a mess. My Amazon reviewer rank slid five hundred points. Nothing mattered. I blogged about that.

To make this long story even longer, I wound up passed out in a gutter in South Philly, lying in a pool of my own vomit, pieces of my laptop scattered across the wet pavement. Miraculously, I still had my cellphone. I autodialed my son's number, and when his sweet, innocent voice came on the line I began to sob, “I don't understand how to post on Tumblr...” 

I had hit bottom. I was a blogaholic.


(First published on ArticlesBase.)

 
 
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How to Get 40,000 Readers Without Guest Blogging

Guest post on http://kikolani.com/how-to-get-40000-readers-without-guest-blogging-2.html by Gregory Ciotti December 12, 2012 . Greg Ciotti takes an unconventional view of guest blogging. His methods might not be well-suited for most writers' blogs, but his comments on reciprocity are cogent. (The original article has some neat graphics. It's worth taking a look.)

Only a few months ago, I started my recent project, an electronic music blog by the name of Sophistefunk.

Before I get into the details, let’s get with the goods:

I’ve hit over 40000 unique visitors after only being live for a few short months.

And I did it without a single guest post about this blog!

But how?

Well, that’s what I’m here today to tell you!

If you are looking for some sort of secret sauce, look elsewhere, but if you want to see some smart implementation of direct-to-success techniques that you can use in any niche, read on, this post is for you.

But first, let me address why I didn’t use guest posting for this new blog…

Seriously, Why No Guest Posts? When it comes to guest blogging, I will give myself a pat on the back and say that I’m fairly experienced in the process: I’ve used it to grow almost every blog I’ve ever started/worked with.

Almost.

What they don’t tell you in the blogging world very often is that sometimes, guest posting is not always a viable option depending on the niche that you are in.

Sure, there are always ways to post about your blog (no matter the topic) on “blogging about blogging” sites (only a small fraction of which contain any useful info, luckily Kikolani is part of that small fraction).

The thing is, these types of visitors aren’t always ideal: their main interest is in blogging, not necessarily the topic that your blog is about.

I really encountered this problem with my electronic music blog: music blogs almost NEVER accept guest posts, why should they?

Most posts on a music site are going to be media focused (videos & audio) and are relatively short, there’s no need to bring in another author.

So, for all of the support that guest blogging gets (and rightfully so), when it comes to a niche where you can’t realistically use it as a traffic generating method in a consistent manner, what is a blogger to do? Totally give up on the niche?

NO!

Where there is a will, or more specifically, a will to do some legwork, there is a way.

What Guest Blogging is Really About… As great as guest blogging can be for direct traffic, building awareness, and indirect traffic in terms of backlinking & SEO, the real benefit behind guest blogging is that is allows you to build relationships with people influential in your niche.

In reality, providing a ton of value with a great guest post can go a lot farther than a handful of new visitors to your site: by providing value to an author of a popular blog, you plant the seeds to build a relationship which can result in this author doing a lot more for you than just accepting your post.

In my interview with Leo of the BufferApp, Leo stated that he believes one of the most powerful aspects of guest blogging is that it typically leads to reciprocation between the guest post submitter and the blog’s author.

That is, if you provide a ton of value to another blogger with a guest post, they will often reciprocate by checking out your content, and if they like what they see, they’ll share it with their followers not because they feel indebted, but because they want to share awesome content.

These types of relationships are absolutely essential if you want to build a popular blog in a target niche, and guest blogging is really only a means to that end, rather than the actual end itself.

So I knew I could succeed in the end goal of building relationships, the only thing I was really lacking was the use of guest blogging to serve as the “ice-breaker” to the influential people in my niche.

Then it hit me.

What if, this time around, other bloggers were NOT the most influential people in my topic?

How To Build Relationships I began to realize that in my niche, it was actually the musicians who were the most influential in terms of having large followings and receptive audiences: music blogs are a dime a dozen, so building relationships with artists was a surefire way for me to stand out.

I began to realize that I didn’t need guest blogging in this circumstance, and my findings lead me to 3 main points which I’m going to discuss with you today:


  1. Why email is the greatest “social network” of all
  2. Sometimes it’s best to network with those around you, rather than those “above” you
  3. Social media, when used correctly, helps small ideas blossom into bigger projects
All 3 of these techniques played a vital role in creating the consistent traffic that I see today, and below I’m going to show you exactly how I went about it.

1.) Email Is King: Bow Down to the Greatest “Social Network” I’ve always had a saying when it comes to blogging that shocks many people when they first hear it, but I stand by it to this day…

You should be spending almost as much time in your email client as you do writing posts in order to build your blog!

It might sound crazy, but as many experienced bloggers know, email is where all of the magic happens!

Sure, social media is a great traffic generation source, and keeping in touch with people on social networks is a great place to build relationships (will get into that in a bit), but the fact remains is that the “meat” of your business dealings will take place behind the scenes, using email.

You should be as fluent with proper email writing techniques are you are writing blog posts.

Think about it: do you know the best way to approach someone for a guest blogging submission?

How about for bigger requests, like interviews, collaborations, or asking them to support your content because you think they’d be interested in it?

It might sound scary, but you are going to need to know how to talk to influencers via email and know how to capture their attention.

I used email as the absolute backbone for grabbing attention for my blog.

Generally speaking, my two most popular post types (keeping in mind that this is a music blog) are:
  1. Interviews with artists
  2. Premieres of brand new tracks

Neither of these things could be accomplished without the use of email, so no matter how many tweets I sent out, I can safely attribute to my blog breaking the “initial hump” solely by my consistent quality of content and my effective use of email.

There are a few key points that I want you to know about when it comes to email (and I’m a guy to both sends and receives a ton of email…)

  • Always keep your messages short, unless you’ve come to agreement with the recipient to talk about a topic at length
  • Keep your subject line as straightforward as possible, and use numbers so people can gauge time commitment
  • Try to reference a past experience with the person in question, even if it’s just something like “enjoyed your latest video/project/blog post”

Here’s a sample email that I’ve used to land interviews with popular musicians:

Subject Line: 3 quick interview questions [Notice how I address what the interview is about, use a number and the word "quick" to signify a small workload, and get right to the point] 
 
Hey (Artist Name), 
 
Just wanted to shoot you a quick email, I’ve had your latest album on repeat lately and I’ve been featuring you a ton on my blog Sophistefunk.com, big fan of your music.
I was wondering if you had the time to answer 3 quick interview questions for me and my readers, I know they are always raving about your work and it would be my pleasure to feature some of your thoughts on my blog. 
 
I’ve done past interviews before with [Example] and they turned out really well:http://LinkToAPastInterview Here are the questions below, thanks again for your time and keep making great music, and I’ll keep supporting it =)
You’ll notice I advocate a 3-5 paragraph max, with no more than two sentences per paragraph.

Really, the shorter the better, this one was actually a bit longer of an example because I wanted to fit a few strategies in.

You’ll also notice that I start off with “I’m a fan”, signifying some loyalty to the person I’m reaching out to.

I also state the benefits in a direct manner: “My audience would enjoy…”, telling the person that I have an audience that they could get more exposure to.

Lastly, I post a the best example I have, one of mine is an interview with Michal Menert, which got over 180 shares in 24 hours.

2.) Networking With Those Around You When it comes to creating real connections and doing smart networking, most people have the right idea, but far too often I see people attempting to network only with people “above them”, and they often miss out on the great connections that are in plain sight around them.

The thing about networking with the “little guy” is that they are much more likely to reciprocate, and by showcasing their content, you are putting the spotlight on an up-and-comer, which is much more interesting than posting about the “big guys” that everybody already knows about.

This kind of networking can be really rewarding, just look at how Tom Ewer’s post on 5 Non A-List Bloggers You Should Be Following got mentioned on one of the biggest Problogger posts of the year, and how I’m mentioning it right now!

So, how was I able to utilize “helping the little guy” to build my blog up to 40,000 visitors, and more importantly, how can you do the same?

When it comes to running a music blog, the artists are king, since they are really the content providers for your site (although I published my thoughts and the occasional electronic music podcast, artists still rule the roost).

I began realizing that my featuring of much smaller artists had a larger relative impact, in that by featuring their music or by linking to them, I was sending them a respectable amount of traffic, but a mere blip on the radar to huge, popular artists.

By featuring a larger artist’s music, I wouldn’t even get a friendly tweet (that’s not to disrespect them, with more popularity comes less time for networking with small to medium sites like mine).

Yet, when I would feature an independent or “just getting started” artist, they would almost always share the post on social networks, send me a thank you email, and much more (such as providing unreleased music, just for my site!)

Think that this strategy is exclusive to my niche?

Try replacing the word “blogger” with “artist” in the paragraphs above.

You can pursue the same strategy, reaching out to “up and comers”, by connecting with and featuring soon to be superstars in your niche.

My personal take on this strategy?

I started a weekly feature called “Follow Friday” where I would feature 7 independent artists who had submitted their tracks to me.

By pairing up these talented but not yet established artists, I would 7 separate personalities (and their growing following) sharing the same post all at once.

This not only provided a unique feature for my site, but it instantly got me more links and social shares.

Funny how that works: people with a lot to gain from you mentioning them will be grateful in return.

How to apply this to your blog: Outside of just doing a featured post or linking to other bloggers, engage with them directly!

As an example: I did an interview with Rafal Tomal for my marketing blog Sparring Mind.

This post got a tremendously positive response, and it was because I took two talented WordPress designers who were established, but not so known as to make them “over-discussed”, and I got them to dish out their real opinions on what kind of blog designs convert well.

I took a topic people wanted to read, found under-appreciated talents that knew what they were talking about, and put them together for one dynamite post.

What kind of interviews & collaborations could you be forming with up-and-coming bloggers in your niche?

I had to ask myself that very question for both of these projects, but for my music blog I decided to go with musicians over fellow bloggers, but the general concept remains the same: collaborating with unique talent is a great way to build rapport with talented people and also provide useful content along with it.

3.) Using Social Media Correctly (Saving Time & Sanity) I’ve got a love/hate relationship with social media.

On one hand, it’s great as an “icebreaker”, and creating connections that have long term positive effects for your brand, as well as being a good traffic source.

On the other hand, unless you are actively pursuing these end goals, social media can be a complete waste of time, even worse, it makes you feel like you are “working on your business” when in fact you are doing a whole lot of nothing.

The thing with a “cold” email is, without recognizing you, some people might simply ignore your initial contact or be hesitant to respond back to you.

I’ve found that for my blogs, social media (especially Twitter), is fantastic for laying the groundwork for future email discussions, which are usually where the real work gets done (I’m telling you, email really is top dog).

It’s often as simple as “tagging”, by utilizing mentions on either Facebook or Twitter to let a blogger (or in my case, a musician) know that you’ve mentioned them in some way.

I’d often do this for new music premiere’s, and many artists would gladly retweet to their large following, just as a way to say thanks.

Noted Psychology Professor Robert Cialdini (author of the popular Influence book) would describe this process as reciprocity, one of the 6 key ways to being more influential.

Giving to others often leads to them giving back, and scale is important in determining whether they will reciprocate and in what fashion.

What I mean by “scale” is how much your initial act effects them, that’s why connecting with those “around you” works so well: your impact on them is much greater.

Social media is your way of alerting them that you are doing do, and a great way to “pursue” traffic and increase the influence of your network, rather than just sitting around and waiting for these things to happen.

I use social media for two very specific purposes for my blog, one that is something general that any blog can do, and another that is very niche specific but brings me in a lot of traffic. (Hopefully they will serve as inspiration to you).

The first I briefly touched on above: I use social media as an icebreaker for larger projects.

I typically do this by starting a conversation with the a specific person’s latest tweets, and later I let them know I’d like to chat with them via email.

When people see you are interested in discussing something via email, they are generally receptive if you’ve shown yourself to be a coherent human being with good social media etiquette: that means it’s likely your email will most likely be interesting for them.

The second is simple notification, it’s something I use to practice effective guest blogging and it’s also something I use for my music blog.

On a guest post, alerting people via social media (or if you’ve established a relationship, via email) is a great way to notify them that you’ve featured something they’ve on a big blog. They will likely reciprocate by sharing the post with their followers, since it features them and they want repay you for the mention.

With my music blog, I would instead notify all of the independent artists who I feature using Twitter mentions and Facebook tagging. The thing is, 95% of people would then share the post, grateful that I had taken the time to feature their music.

Bloggers are likely to do the same, especially if you are connecting around you like I mentioned above (big bloggers don’t always have the time to reciprocate).

So, don’t just use social media to share links and post about your thoughts, use it to be social, notifying people and breaking the ice, which will hopefully lead to more productive discussions via email.

 
 
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Note: as of May 29, 2014, Technorati is no longer listing blogs. 

Listing your blog on Technorati is a little complicated, but it is well worth it. With over a million blogs, Technorati is the mother of all blog directories. The entire registration system is automated, so if you run into problems nobody will help you. This means you have to follow all of their instructions to the letter. 

If you follow these steps, you shouldn't have any problems registering your blog.

1) Write a new blog entry, but do not publish it.

2) Go to the Technorati website and create an account ("join").

3) Add your blog title, URL, blog feed URL, and description. (To find your blog feed URL, scroll down to the bottom of your blog page and hover over "Posts (Atom)."  The URL will appear in green in the lower left corner of your screen.)

You will receive an email almost immediately with the subject line “Technorati Claim in Progress.” Click on the link provided in the email for instructions. Scroll down to “Claim Status.” Click “check claim.” You will see this note:

Claim Status – (your blog)

Technorati will need to verify that you are an author of the blog by looking for a unique code. Please put the following short code [ … ] within a new blog post and publish it. This code must appear in the published post and it must also appear in your corresponding RSS feed once published. Once it is published, use the "Verify Claim Token" button on this page to tell Technorati your blog is ready for Technorati to verify the claim token and proceed to final review.

4) Copy and paste the 12-symbol token into the body of your new unpublished post. (It must be an unpublished post for the process to work!)

5) Publish your post. Then go back to your account and click “verify your claim token.” You will get a confirmation email in about 10 minutes.

Note: You may receive the following rejection:.

Thank you for submitting your blog claim on Technorati. Unfortunately, we have encountered a problem reading your site's data. Please log into [technorati] and go to [your account] to update any necessary site information and continue the claim process.

Don't panic, just check that your token appears on your published blog and not just on your blog editing page. Go back to your account, and repeat the process.

6) At this point sit back and wait a few minutes for your next email, which will be:

Thank you for submitting your blog claim on Technorati. We have successfully crawled your blog and found the claim token, and your claim is now awaiting review.

7) The next email you receive will be this confirmation:

Congratulations, your claim is now complete! Please allow 24 to 48 hours for Authority and recent posts to begin showing for your site now that it has been successfully claimed. Once they are there, we will update your site's Authority once per day.

At first you may not see your site listed in the Technorati Blog Directory for all of the categories you've selected. As you write blog posts around those topics, you should see your Topical Authority in those categories begin to rise.

In my experience, it takes roughly a day for a blog embedded in an author's website to get confirmed. It takes a grand total of 15 minutes – start to finish – for Technorati to confirm a  Blogger site (yet another reason to duplicate your website blog on Blogger).

Good luck!


 

Flogging your Blog

11/16/2012

 
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If Venus could do it, so can you!
You've set up your author's website (you have, haven't you?), and you've begun a blog. You are happily blogging away two or three times a week, secure in the belief that every time you hit “Publish” your thoughts are winging their way through the blogosphere, reaching millions of people who are hungry for your knowledge, wit and/or wisdom.

Wrong.

The millions are not hungry. If anything, they are overfed. According to NM Incite  (that's Nielson/McKinsey) – a company formed to “discover industry-specific consumer insights and build relevant, differentiated and emotionally engaging brands … with the vision that real-time, authentic consumer expression in social media transforms how marketers build strong brands, create passionate and engaged brand communities, and ultimately achieve superior sales outcomes” (so many buzz words, so little content! I am sure you could write a better sentence than that!) - there were 181 million blogs around the world by 2011. Five years earlier there were only 36 million. Imagine how many there are today.

On second thought, don't imagine. At an average yearly increase of 36 million there are now at least 217 million blogs. But that's not nearly as impressive as the number of blogs posted every day. (If you really want to get depressed, you can go to Worldometers and watch, in real time, the daily world blog count – as they are being posted. It's hypnotic. Go there now.)

(One hour later.)

Where were we? Ah, yes. 

If you actually want people to read your blog, then you will have to “drive” them to it, either in your cybercar, or using a cyberwhip (whatever makes you happy). Do the following:

  1. Set up your blog as part of your author's website. Then duplicate your blog on a separate blog, preferably Blogger. (Blogger is an ugly glitch-filled mess, but Wordpress is hard for Google search engines to find, and you are too old for Tumblr).

  2. Blog regularly so search engines can find you.

  3. Once you have accumulated ten blogs, start registering your blog on blog directories. (Register your independent blog, not the one on your website. The automated software that the largest blog directories use cannot detect embedded blogs.) Here are two good lists of blog directories:

    http://www.best-web-directories.com/blog-directories.htm

    http://www.searchenginejournal.com/20-essential-blog-directories-to-submit-your-blog-to/5998/

  4. Write guest blogs. Obviously, you want to post on the blogs that get a million viewers a day (the “A list” blogs), but realistically speaking that is not going to happen. So submit to those who blog about your subject matter. Technorati, which is one of the best places to register your blog, has a huge list. More important, they have a popularity index. Use their index to find the most popular blogs. Then see if any of them post on your subject. Check to see if they take submissions.

  5. If you don't have a specific area to focus on, and are just a wonderful all-round writer, then write for Blogcritics. (They have great SEO, which in the cyberworld is better than sex.)

  6. Shmooze. Just like writers, bloggers have conferences. Meet them, make friends. Here is a list of conferences. http://mommybloggerdirectory.com/conferences. (There are many lists out there, but this list will give you a good idea of the types of conferences, and where they are held.)

If all these steps sound a lot like how to break into the publishing world (fierce competition, shmoozing, submissions, rejections followed by an overwhelming sense of futility), then, by George, you've got it, you've really got it! But do not despair. The fabulous thing about the Great Equalizer (aka the Internet) is that it really is a democracy. You get to run your campaign, and other people get to vote for you.

ZXCECH6CAG8S (Ignore that man behind the curtain!)

More information:

Buzz in the Blogosphere: Millions More Bloggers and Blog Readers
http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/buzz-in-the-blogosphere-millions-more-bloggers-and-blog-readers/

Technorati's annual reports on the state of the blogosphere. Lots of interesting information here.
http://technorati.com/state-of-the-blogosphere/

Wow! Just look at those numbers go!
http://www.worldometers.info/blogs/



 

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