What can you do to build your blog?
Follow conventional wisdom, and focus harder on writing great posts?
Bad idea. Instead, think of the process like a job search. If you were looking for a job, would you focus exclusively on improving your skills? Or would you be pounding the pavement, looking for new opportunities while you're improving your skills?
Blogs are no different. Just as you wouldn't sit back and wait for employers to offer you a job, you shouldn't sit back and wait for readers to find your blog.
To help you get started, here are five specific steps you can take to pound the pavement for your blog:
(1) Network -- When you're looking for a job, you talk to old friends, attend industry events, show up at community meetups, scan LinkedIn for potential connections and build relationships on Twitter. It's not much different when you're looking for readers for your blog. You go to Google Blog Search, Technorati, Twitter Grader and Twitter Search and type in the keywords for your industry. Figure out who in your industry you respect, who the influencers are, and make connections with them. Comment on their posts and, when it adds value, include links to your posts in the comments. Write posts on your blog that respond to their posts. Mention them in your posts. Above all, do you what you can to build relationships and get them to notice that you're creating thoughtful, interesting content on your blog.
(2) Spread the Word -- When you're looking for a job, you need to be aggressive about getting in front of the right people -- only you can't be so aggressive that you annoy people. You need to find the same balance when you're building your blog. You need to share posts on Twitter and Facebook and make sure all your friends and contacts know you're blogging. But you can't overwhelm or bore them. A good way to handle this balance is to use these channels for more than just broadcasting your blog.
(3) Guest Posts -- Find high-quality, high-traffic blogs related to your industry that are willing to accept guest posts and write a post or two for them. Assuming they're willing to include a prominent link back to your blog, this is a great way to introduce new people to your blog and build subscribers. Be careful not to commit to too many guest posts, because you'll start to get fewer new subscribers after a few posts.
(4) Email Interviews With Prominent Bloggers -- Bloggers understand the value of a link, so they're usually willing to do an interview in order to get some exposure and a link back to their site. Find prominent bloggers in your industry and ask them for an email interview. People are far more apt to do an email interview than a guest post because it's an easier format. Instead of coming up with their own original article, they're just responding to your questions. When you publish the interview, send them the link and encourage them to spread it via their own channels.
(5) Grab Attention -- If you're looking for a job, a good way to get your foot in the door or get noticed is to do a high-profile project -- maybe an event, a video or a software application -- that gets attention. In the blog world high profile, potentially controversial posts are a good way to get attention. Try publishing something that's a little spicy that people will react to. If it's well-written and thoughtful, people will pass it around, more people will be exposed to your blog, and it will grow.
What do you think? What am I missing on this list?
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