A lot of people have been asking me lately to look at their blogs and diagnose “what I’m doing wrong.” I always get very nervous when I get these questions. I am by no means at a point where I feel like I can hand out sick bloggy prescriptions. However, I have noticed that when I look at blogs for people, I have a certain way of evaluating what I see, and usually that analysis results in some recommendations for specific types of action items.
To underscore the fact that everything in Social Media takes time and patience, I’ve created an outline here for what you could do to try to improve your blog situation over a 1-month time period. Just 25 things a week. Even then I am certainly not going to promise that you’ll be bigger than Copyblogger or ProBlogger, but hopefully you’ll have tried some new things, learned some things, and maybe you’ll even see some improvements.
I’m offering this information for free, but there is a catch – I want you to report to me when you start the process, what you decide to do, and how it works. Deal?
Well then. Here we go!
1. Decide if you’re happy with your platform. If you make a whole ton of changes and then change where your blog is afterward, you’ll be quite frustrated with yourself. This is something I DO know a lot about!
2. Remove moderation and CAPTCHA from your comments. I know, it’s scary. I had moderated comments for a long time. One major advantage of using WordPress is that you get Aksimet, which is a very powerful spam filter. It does the job. If you love your comments, set them free!
3. Create or improve an “about” page. Include information about why people should read what you have to say, but also add some human interest in there. Let people get to know you.
4. Find a way to highlight “popular” posts. This, again, is really easy to do in WordPress. The advantage of this is that it keeps people interested in posts that did well for you, and it also offers a good preview of what your content is like.
5. Make sure your subscribe options are super easy to find. My subscribe box is over there in the upper right-hand corner. A lot of people include an invitation to subscribe at the end of every post. Make it easy.
6. Perfect the name of your blog. When I go to your blog site, I should have a pretty good idea of what you’re writing about and what your mission statement is. If you are writing about GeoLocation but your blog is called Puppy Chow, I’m going to be very confused.
7. Make sure you’re sharing. Can people easily tweet out your post? Find widgets like Sharedaddy or TweetMeme and make it extremely easy for people to share what you have written. If they have to work to help you, they’ll probably not help you.
8. Pick 5 posts and read them out loud to yourself. A lot of times we don’t hear our voice or tonality when we write – we’re just kind of transferring our thoughts to our site and then hitting publish. To see how you sound to your readers, literally get the sound of your voice in your ears. If you find yourself wanting to skim read your own posts, you probably need to sharpen things up a bit.
9. Pick 5 posts from someone you admire and read those out loud to yourself. How does this experience differ from step 8? Use that knowledge to your advantage.
10. Refine the design of your blog. Do people have to scroll down before they see the first blog post? Do you have 5 columns, each jam-packed with information? Simple is better – the blog posts are your centerpiece. Make sure they pop!
1. Engage the “give to get” rule. Every day this week, don’t let yourself tweet out a link to your blog post until you’ve tweeted out 3 other peoples’ posts. That means that if you want to tweet out your blog post 3 times, you’ll have to tweet out 9 other blog posts as well.
2. Comment on 15 blog posts this week. You can do three a day, and they can be some of the same posts you’re tweeting out. Pace yourself so that your comments can be genuine and thoughtful.
3. Link up with LinkedIn. You can passively promote your blog by linking it to your LinkedIn profile. Get some new eyes on that blog! (If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, step 3.5 would be to start an account)
4. Talk to 1 new person on Twitter each day this week. Look for conversations that are going on and just dive in. This is a great way to start building your community, which has the nice side effect of helping your blog’s popularity.
5. Study your blog headlines. Do your headlines tend to be a bit long? In other words, are they hard to fit into a tweet? Your readers may be having a problem sharing because they don’t want to take the liberty of revising your title for you. See if you can write headlines this week that easily fit into less than 140 characters.
6. Study the images you’re using. If you’re not using images, try to dabble with them this week. If you are writing 1,000 word posts and are using just 1 picture, try experimenting with using more than 1 picture.
7. Attend #blogchat this week - Sunday night at 9 PM EST. Find me or @pushingsocial if you find yourself overwhelmed by the experience. Prepare for a firehose of information!
8. Link to a post that you think your Facebook community would like. Experiment with how you prefer to promote blog posts on Facebook (notes application, manually linking, networked blogs, etc).
9. Write about a topic you’ve never written about before. This not only makes you think about what you haven’t covered, but it also makes you think about why you haven’t blogged about the topic. It’s also a good exercise to see how you can talk to your readers about something new.
10. Write a post about this process so far. You’re at the half-way point. What have you learned? How’s it going? Make sure you ping me if/when you write that post!
1. Give to get a bit more. This week, promote 5 peoples’ blog posts before you tweet out a link to your own.
2. Comment a bit more. Build on the commenting you started doing in week 2. Try to comment on 20 posts this week.
3. Experiment with a new kind of blog post. If you tend to write really long posts, try to write a great post in 500 words. If you tend to write really funny posts, try to talk about something serious. Stretch your horizons. Show your readers your versatility.
4. Try to answer a question about blogging this week. By now, if you’re following this process, you’ve been practicing for 2 and a half weeks. Find the word “blog” and a question mark and see if you can help that person out. Show yourself how much you’ve learned!
5. Write a post in response to someone else’s blog post. Find out whose blogs inspire you (a by-product of commenting and promoting other people). Make sure you link back to them so you can have a blog conversation!
6. Visit a Twitter chat you’ve never visited before. Some options include #TweetDiner (Saturday night at 9 PM EST), #MMChat (for marketers, Mondays at 8 PM EST), #leadershipchat (Tuesday night at 8 PM EST), #custserv (Tuesday at 9 PM EST), #IMCChat (Integrated marketing, Wednesday @ 8 PM EST), and #B2BChat (Thursday at 8 PM EST). These chats helped me build my community – you’ll learn a lot and meet great people!
7. Scan the LinkedIn “Answers” section. Write a post to answer one of the questions you find interesting.
8. Ask someone you trust and have a really good relationship with if they have any need for a guest post. See how your voice and your progress translates for someone else’s audience.
9. Ask someone to guest post on your blog. If you can give a solid direction to the person as to what kinds of subjects you want and want kind of tonality, then you know you’ve honed in on your blog’s mission.
10. Evaluate where you are versus where you want to be. Are you not getting as many comments as you’d like? Are you not getting much more traffic? Or are you exceeding your expectations? Ping me with your results!
1. Continue to promote 5 posts for every 1 of yours. Give to get. This is probably becoming a habit by now.
2. Try to comment on 30 posts this week. It seems like a lot, but there are so many amazing posts out there, it is easier than you might think.
3. Write a post about something great someone else is doing. Shine that spotlight on someone from your community.
4. Try to answer 3 questions about blogging this week. If you participate in #blogchat, you can probably accomplish that in 10 minutes
5. Analyze your “calls to action.” If you want more comments but aren’t getting them, try saying something like, “I really value your opinion on this.” Tell people what you want/hope for on your blog. They’re most likely not mind readers (although you never know!)
6. Write a post that would be helpful to other bloggers. Did any of these steps work for you? Did you take one of these steps and expand upon it to make it your own? Pass the knowledge forward. There is always someone newer to the process than you.
7. Write a post but don’t publish it. Don’t publish it this week, in fact. Let it sit there. Do you find yourself tweaking the post a bit every day? What is your experience with waiting?
8. Seek out a person on Twitter whom you haven’t talked to in awhile, or visit a blog you haven’t visited for awhile. Show someone that you still care about them and your community.
9. Think about starting a series of posts. Is there a topic you could talk about in all kinds of ways? Do you think this information would be useful to your readers? Break it down into sections. Build the expectation from one post to the next.
10. Set up your own plan for next week. What are you goals? How are you going to continue growing? The journey is only just beginning!
I hope this helps you out. I’d love to hear about your victories, your disappointments, and everything in between.