I recently discovered a series entitled “31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog,” at the Tonia’s Roots blog. This series is based on the Darren Rowse (ProBlogger) e-book 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Unfortunately, I am coming into this about a month late, so I am playing “catchup.” Once caught up, however, I plan to keep up with the series.
This assignment is definitely one that I am at least experienced with, if not mastered. Tonia presents a list of eleven ways to promote a specific blog post, originally noted in Darren Rowse’s e-book. My thoughts on these promotional ideas follow.
Pitch to other bloggers: ask another blogger to consider linking to your post. This gives me the heebie-jeebies. I really don’t like asking people to do things for me.
I have never asked another blogger to link to one of my posts. On the other hand, I believe that providing quality content will inspire other bloggers to link to your posts of their own accord. For a list of mentions of this blog in other blogs, see http://haitfamilyresearch.com/blog.aspx, at the bottom of the page, where I have linked to all of the posts I have found that link to this blog. Others may exist–please let me know about them if you find them in the comments here.
Social Messaging: use Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks to promote your post. Darren says “the key is not to incessantly spam your followers and your friends with your link.”
This blog is a part of the Networked Blogs application on Facebook. My settings automatically post links to new posts to both Facebook and Twitter. The one drawback to this is that it is not always entirely evident that my posts on Twitter relate to genealogy. To amend this, I will often re-tweet the automatic NetworkedBlogs tweet with the added hashtag “#genealogy.” I would recommend that anyone tweeting any content related to genealogy always use the #genealogy hashtag to set that content apart.
I also have a WordPress application attached to my LinkedIn profile, so new posts are automatically added to my profile. And of course (like so many others) I have recently joined Google+ and have been submitting links to my posts on that site as well.
Social Bookmarking: promote selective links on sites like Digg or StumbleUpon.
I used to use Digg for all of my articles, and this might prompt me to start doing it again. I also like StumbleUpon, and have already submitted some of my blog posts to the site, but should probably do the rest as well.
I would also add another similar site to the assignment: Reddit.
Internal Links: what posts within your own site can you link to a given post? Have you written on a topic before? Are you writing a series? Link them up. Another way to do this is to use automatic apps, like a related-post plug-in if you are on WordPress, or a widget like LinkWithin, which I believe works on both WordPress and Blogger. You can also add a section in your sidebar with “Latest posts,” “Popular posts,” “Featured posts,” etc. WordPress makes this very easy to do; I’m not sure about Blogger.
I do this all the time, as you can see from the “pingbacks” that appear in the comments of many of my blog posts.
Newsletters: shoot an email out to your newsletter list, if you have one. (Does anyone do a newsletter? I’d like to hear more about how often you do that, what kind of content you include, etc.)
I don’t have a newsletter, and probably will not create one for the purposes of promoting a blog. In my opinion, blogging has replaced the very “Web 1.0” email newsletter list.
Other Blog’s Comments Sections and Forums: leaving good-quality comments can help drive traffic to your site and leaving a link can be appropriate if it is germane to the discussion. (Just a note here, I use a plug-in called CommentLuv that automatically inserts a link to each commenter’s last post, if they’ve signed up for the service. And since, I’m signed up, my links are left on other bloggers’ sites, if they use CommentLuv.)
Unfortunately, the free version of WordPress that I use does not allow the installation of plug-ins, so I can’t use CommentLuv. It sounds great, though! I am a little wary of blatant self-promotion in the comments of other blogs, but I have done this on occasion if it is appropriate and on-topic. One non-intrusive way to accomplish this would be when links are invited, such as with this blog series or with Randy Seaver’s “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun” posts at Genea-Musings.
Email signatures: Darren suggests including links to recent posts, instead of just your blog’s front page URL.
Not a bad idea, but not one that I will do. I would hate to have to change my signature every time I post a new article. I write a lot of emails, though so this would certainly get the word out to a lot of people.
Follow-up posts: write a new post that picks up where another left off, like a series, or adds new information to a previous post, then inter-link them.
I love series of posts. In this blog, I have written several popular series, including “Source Citations: Why Form Matters” and “Source Citations: Getting it ‘Right’.”
Advertise Your post: You might consider a small ad campaign for a post you are particularly proud of, using AdWords, StumbleUpon, or similar services. This probably isn’t something most geneabloggers would consider, but it might be worthwhile for those who are professional genealogists.
Not too interested in buying ad space for a blog post. For one thing, as a professional genealogist, my blog is to a certain extent as much a marketing venture as it is a communications venture.
Pitch Mainstream Media: You might want to do this for a really interesting post. Again, I think this would be more suitable for the pros.
I have never pitched to mainstream media, but my posts have occasionally been picked up on their own. Most recently, my post “Five things you have to know about every record” was mentioned in the online edition of the American Library Association’s American Libraries Direct.
Article Marketing: Rewrite some key articles and submit them to article marketing sites.
I am not really sure what an article marketing site is, but I have a feeling that it is what is often negatively called a “content mill.” I already have two columns on Examiner.com, which is at least a few steps above a content mill, but I have a little more integrity than to submit to some of the lower-quality sites. I have read quite a few of the genealogy-related articles on these sites, and they are generally not very good.
So, I do have a few tasks to work on in conjunction with this assignment. Most notably, to submit some of my articles (if not all) to Digg, StumbleUpon, and ReddIt.