When I talk to businesses about blogging and social media and how it can work for them to boost their bottom line, I remind these business owners that five years ago their only guaranteed option for getting their message out there was via paid advertising.
Paid advertising is still necessary for most businesses but these days it generally won’t work in isolation, particularly if you are selling more than a product or service … if you are selling a brand.
See, it doesn’t matter how big this global communication stuff has got, at the crux of it … what drives social media popularity is that we still want to connect with other people.
If you can achieve that connection, then you are streets ahead of the next person in terms of getting a sale, having people sign up to your cause, having them join your group or organisation … or having them simply come back to read your blog.
It’s all about using your blog to boost your profile, so that when people think about a certain niche of business, organisation or cause, they think of you. First.
If you are a personal blogger and wanting to stand out within your niche, then these same six easy steps still apply.
This will come easier to some than others. The level of organisation that you need to operate your blog in conjunction with your other work and family commitments will also differ from blogger to blogger. I operate from a plan (that is flexible). I plan content for the month, then review that plan the week before to make sure the following week’s blog content offers a good mix of the topics on which I write. I also like to set goals for the year, which I’ll do again before Christmas for 2012.
That plan you made? Yep, you have to actually implement it. On a regular basis. So you need to find the right amount of time that you can devote to blogging and social media so that you can retain that consistency. If that’s once a week for blogging, great. Ideally, I think to have long-term impact, you need to be blogging at least three times a week, publishing the same days every week. And you also need to be hanging out in social media networks every day – at the times of the day that get the most response from your readers.
Be an expert
You can position yourself as an expert in your niche from the moment you start blogging. It’s your knowledge about your niche that’s prompted you to share information with others via a blog and social media.
The more your position yourself as an expert, the more you’ll be seen by others as THE person or blog to go to for help or advice.
It’s important with this process to be available to answer readers’ questions on Twitter, Facebook, in blog comments or via email … wherever your readers ask the question, be there to answer it. Yes, this adds work to your day and week but it also increases your credibility. What I always do if a question comes in (and they do almost daily) is keep those questions as possible blog posts. I figure if one person is asking, then there are probably others out there who would like to know the same thing.
Be PR ready
This is something I’ve had in place since starting my business and the same applies if you are blogging to build a profile. I’m not talking PR-ready in terms of media kits for brands and PR companies, I’m taking PR material about you and your blog/business/organisation or cause.
Unless you can afford to out-source your brand’s PR, then having professional photos and a bio (short and long versions) on hand to email any media who might request them, will put you ahead of others and increase your chance of getting quotes or written about in other media – online or offline.
Here are some examples of the media coverage I’ve received this year. In so many, they’ve asked for my photo – if I didn’t have something suitable, I may not have been featured as prominently.
Don’t wait for media to contact you. Be proactive, if you have done something or achieved something that would be considered newsworthy then let media outlets know. Start with local ones in your area and work your way up from there.
Subscribe to Source Bottle. So many journalists are now using this when searching for people to feature in their stories. You’ll receive two emails a day and can quickly skim and see if any of the “call-outs” apply to your niche. If they do, send a response quickly. Often journos are on deadlines and if you stand out and are timely in your response, you have more of a chance of being featured.
It’s also a good idea to have an elevator pitch ready when anyone (media or PR company) phones you to ask about your blog. An elevator pitch is usually a sentence that sums you up and sets you apart from others in your niche.
Here’s mine: Styling You takes current fashion and beauty trends and translates them for women to embrace in the real world.
Be a networker
You can’t blog in isolation. You need to “market” your blog via social media networks. This doesn’t mean spending all day online but it does mean spending some time online.
The best way to start planning your networking time is to work out which social networks are sending more people to your blog. Google Analytics will tell you this. For me Facebook and Twitter fight it out each month, so that’s where I spend most of my time.
I also take notice of what times of day more of my readers are most likely to be online. Evenings win hands down!
Offline networking is just as important. I network in my local area and I also attend networking events in Brisbane (nearest capital city) and travel once a month to either Sydney or Melbourne where most fashion and beauty launches and blogging events are held.
All of the above means nothing and will not make you an expert unless you are comfortable being yourself.
None of us are perfect but we all have something to offer. What is it that you can offer that will make others want to connect with you and trust in your ability?
What makes you the credible source of information or infotainment within your niche?
Do you have any tips that you’ve learned on your blogging journey that can help other bloggers become experts in their niches?
* This post formed the basis of my chat in the Digital Parents Chat Cafe this week. You can read the full transcript which includes questions and answers here.
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