Blogging

The Secret to Developing a Popular Blog

Building a blog that will get a wide attention from the blogosphere is not an easy goal to achieve. There are thousands of blog created each day and only few of them will eventually be acquiring some popularity.

First, lets define a popular blog as a blog that own a large readership. Everyone will agree that blogs like ProBlogger.net, TechCrunch or DoshDosh are, without a doubt, popular blogs. They all own a large readership and, consequently, a big influence on the blogosphere. So, what is the secret?

Popularity needs three main ingredients to be achieved: time, quality and distribution channels. Of course, you may have notice that there are only two of them on which you have a real control or at least an influence: the quality and the distribution channels.

First, lets do a little walk around the quality. Everyone heard about the adage: Content is King. Of course, content is essential because it is the raw material and the foundation of a blog. The quality of this content will have a significant impact on how your readers perceive you and your blog. Of course, the quality is something subjective that depends on multiple factors. For example, the level of knowledge of your readers may have a big impact on how they will perceive your content. However, for the benefit of this post, we will assume that quality is high and, consequently, is not an issue on our quest for popularity.

The second ingredient is the distributions channels. Developing a wide range of distribution channels is the golden key for success and popularity. In fact, your blog popularity will largely be directed by the way your content will be distributed. The ultimate goal is to have as many people as possible to see, recommend and distribute your content! This is essential to build a strong branding and a large audience.

This said, the goal of this post is precisely to present how you could build a large and engaged audience by developing different distribution channels. Those channels will be presented as the following:

  1. The blog community channels
  2. The authority based channels
  3. The social media channels
  4. The search based channels
  5. The advertisement channels
  6. The offline channels

developdistributionchannels The Secret to Developing a Popular Blog

The Blog Community Channels

Your blog community could be defined as your regular readers. It is the people who already follow your blog and like what you do. This group of readers could be decomposed on 3 important groups: the bookmark readers, the engaged audience and the a featured unconditional fans. In fact, they are all your most faithful allied. Of course, they are all at a different level, but they represent the core of your content distribution center. They are convinced readers that talk about you and make your content circulate all across the blogosphere.

It is critical, on a promotional point of view, to develop this community in order to give your blog a significant leverage. Building a popular blog is all about relationship and team work. It is a matter of developing relationships based on reciprocal trust and emotional engagement.

Developing this kind of relationship begins by doing something significant without hoping something else in return. Its a pure act of generosity. It is essential to offer something that has a real value for the intended person. It could be a featured post, a blog review or a simple comment that will start a true communication between you and this person.

There are tons of things that could help people achieving their goals. At least, on a distribution context you may build an amazing relationship network by showing your presence to other bloggers. It could be by linking to them, sending them personal email, publishing a positive review, etc.

In the context of your content distribution, dont underestimate the power of a supportive community.They are the foundation of an efficient and productive distribution process. In fact, they will be the catalyst to develop all other distribution channels.

The Authority-Based Channels

The development of this type of channels will rely on your ability to present yourself as an authority. Among these channels, here are the main ones:

  • Forums
  • Blogs comments
  • Help sites (like Yahoo! Answers)
  • Review sites (like Yelp)
  • Guest posts
  • Articles directories

The above channels give you the real opportunity to demonstrate your authority. In fact, this is the most critical point here. Of course, this is not an easy task and it may require time. Winning the trust of others is a tremendous gift in itself. Most people will need to know you before they join your community.

The most important factors to consider for an efficient development of these channels are the following:

1.Being active and visible. People talk about what they see and what they read. Your visibility and your activity will highly influence how people will perceive your authority. In addition, it will have a significant impact on your branding development.
2.Being clear and relevant. Clarity and relevance are essential to demonstrate your value. The perception of readers is largely influence by the quality of your content. Obvious mistakes and irrelevance may have irremediable results on your core audience development.
3.Providing in-depth information. The depth level of your content may have an impact on how your expertise and your authority in your niche are perceived. Remain on the surface of a topic is relatively easy and may not have any added value for your readers. It is fundamental to concretely demonstrate our value and our expertise on our niche. This will create a positive impact on your readership and on your branding.
4.Providing valuable resources. By providing external resources like links or video, you incorporate an added value to the information you distribute. This gives valuable references for your readers as well as supports your content by offering additional and relevant content. Also, by adding those resources, you distribute valuable and original content as part of the core audience of specific bloggers.
5.Demonstrating generosity. Giving something as an act of pure generosity is vital to start any kind of emotional engagement. Being generous create a solid foundation to relationship. In fact, you will always attract what you give to others. Sow the seeds of generosity and you’ll harvest generosity!

The Social Media Channels

Social media are exceptional channels to develop. As a mass of informed readers, social media such as Digg and StumbleUpon are perfectly adapted to ease the distribution of your content across the blogosphere. Thus, it is critical to properly understand the mechanism around these media and to develop these distribution channels as a solid platform of supportive fans with the goal of building firm relationship mainly based on sharing about common interests.

Just as an example to reinforce the importance of social media, you may be aware that reaching the Digg Frontpage is something determinant for any blogs and bloggers. This event maximizes the visibility of your content and thus, maximizes also its distribution.

There are many factors that may influence the level of success youll meet with those media channels. The main ones are the following:

1.Being generous (again). As we already said, generosity attracts generosity! If you actively give some exposure to other bloggers, they will most likely give you the same over time. Dont forget that social relations are relations with humans; they are based on emotional links. If you are generous, respectful, gentle and so on, youll build friendship and friendship if the foundation of your content distribution.
2.Being active and visible. Again, being active and visible is critical to give you a great exposure. You must demonstrate that you are present and increase you visibility. People talk about what they see and what they read about a day to day basis. If you are not there, you will miss the boat!
3.Being attentive to what works and what dont. Each media channels have their specific members. It seems that, generally, Digg members dont distribute the same stories than StumbleUpon members. You may take few hours each week to analyse what works and what dont in Digg. You can do that by examining the Digg Frontpage which shows the Digg top stories. You may do the same with StumbleUpon and few others. Doing so will give you excellent guideline to better structure your topics, your articles and your headlines. Headlines are especially critical in social media channels; if you dont convince a reader with your headline, you are just loosing a reader for this article. Social Medias like Digg or StumbleUpon may help you creating attractive headlines!
4.Clearly understand the mechanism. Social Medias are powerful channels for your content distribution, but you first need to know how it really works. Dont start using Social Medias blindly; you would loose precious time. Instead, use this time wisely by reading about each system and observe how it works. Than, youll be in a good position to experiment and build your own strategy. Dont hesitate to ask questions or to request some help from social members; people will generally be pleased to help you!

As part of your distribution strategy, social media really worth investing time and energy in it. These channels are perfectly in line with your ultimate goal of creating an engaged audience based on strong relationships.

The Search-Based Channels

We must not forget that search engines and directories are major channels for the distribution of your content. Of course, you dont have any control on what will be distributed since search engines and directories are design to mechanically respond to precise requests from people searching specific things. However, you have full control on your content submission as well as on the SEO applied on it.

Readers referred by search engine or directory results are particularly interesting because they are looking to find a targeted piece of information without having any predetermine websites in mind. They are looking to find something specific and hopefully youll be the first one on the list!

Again, there are some essential factors to consider to be successful with these types of distribution channels. Here they are:

1.Create relevant links for your content. Links that point to your articles may include keywords relevant to their respective content. Creating your articles links properly will help search engines to identify your articles as part of specific topics. Distribute your content with relevant keywords is vital to properly found it.
2.Integrate a sitemap to your blog. Using sitemap is a must! In fact, a sitemap gives an overview of your blog contents and structure; you may see it like a table of contents. This information is essential to properly update search engine bots when they visit your blog.
3.Integrate ping mechanism for content submission. To be distributed, your content must be submitted to servers. The ping mechanism is the best way to notify those servers that new content is available. The more servers are notified the higher are your chances to be viewed and redistributed.
4.Create targeted webpage with specific keywords. Generally, it may be difficult to optimize your blog with specific keywords. In fact, a single page may include many articles which result in a page with an aggregation of targeted keywords which has no meaning for any search engine. One possible way to help you getting more hits from search engine and directories is to make targeted pages. The goal here is to gather together the articles around a single theme based on their common keywords.
5.Stay tuned on SEO news and search engines topics. The market around search engines or SEO is changing very quickly. It may be of your interest to stay up to date in that area. It is essential to include the search engine and directory channels in your distribution strategy. It is worthy to invest time and energy to develop these channels. You may want to include Search Engine Journal into your favourite website or subscribe to the RSS Feed!

The Advertisement Channels

In opposition to the distribution channels we already talked about, the advertisement channels are most commonly paid channels. Among them, we can count banner ads, PPC systems like Google AdSense and paid reviews.

The question here is: what are you willing to pay to get additional exposure? What is your marketing budget?

Its always hard to know a priori the ROI youll obtain from your PPC or your banner ads campaigns. In fact, there is no way to get it unless you based your prediction on similar campaigns.

Here are some determinant factors related to this type channels:

1.Clearly define your goals, your needs and your expectations. It is essential to clearly define these elements for your advisement channels if you want to include them into your distribution strategy. Do you really need them? Why? What would be the main goals? What are your expectations about the results? Since advertisement could be quite expensive, it may be a good idea to answer the above questions to clarify your advertisement needs and strategy.
2.Set your budget and stick on it.Whatever your will choose as your advertisement channel, you will need to determine a realistic budget in line with your actual income and your expected results. When youll have it set, just follow your plan and stick on your budget. Maybe your advertisement experience will show you some kind of profitability or maybe not. To most essential thing is to get stick on your budget and this is especially true if your campaign doesn’t give you what you were expecting to. Dont do the mistake to invest more money on something that is maybe not appropriate for your particular market. Take the time to make 2 steps back and to evaluate what just happened.
3.Be sure you properly understand the rules.Again, whatever you will choose as your advertisement channel, you must be sure to properly understand the TOS and the overall mechanism. If you choose to invest money, be sure to get the most out of it by reading articles or eBooks about this specific system. Dont hesitate to contact people who already use this type of advertisement. Get yourself inform about the common mistakes or the best things to do.
4.For PPC campaigns, learn how to create attractive ads.If you choose to start PPC campaigns, read about how to create attractive and effective ads. There are several articles and eBooks about this particular topic. Read some of it and use the most common tips to write your own ads!

Using paid channels for your distribution strategy is something you have to keep in mind. Depending of your budget, it is something you may envisage or not. One possible way to see paid channels is like casino: if you move forward with an amount of money you dont care to lose, you wont be disappointed!

The Offline Channels

We often omit to talk about them, but the offline channels may have a significant impact on your content distribution. The most common channels are newspaper, radio and television. However, those channels may not be channels of choice for most bloggers since they are quite expensive. The offline channel I would like to focus on is the word of mouth marketing. We may not underestimate the strength of this channel. 

As we previously say, content distribution is all about relationship. Your day to day life is one of the best places to discuss about your content and eventually win additional engaged readers. Moreover, dont forget that your engaged audience may also talked about you with their friends. In fact, there is nothing more efficient than a one on one informal discussion to convince someone about a new product or a good restaurant. In general, people are pleased to hear about new stuff and especially if this could help them in some ways.

I would highly recommend developing word of mouth channels; it dont cost you anything and it is amazingly efficient. Try it and talk about what you are doing online with your friends and relative. Spread the word to everyone you feel comfortable with.

Consider being careful about the following factors:

1.Expand your contacts and talk about what you are doing. Take every new people you meet as an opportunity to expand your contacts. Discussions may take several directions, but people generally want to know what you are doing very fast. Take this as a chance to explain and summarize what you are doing.
2.Increase your visibility and show altruism. One possible way to get more visibility on your local community is to be implicated in non-profit organisms. Doing so may be very enriching and will allow you to meet a lot of new people. Another idea would be to organize live blogging lessons for anyone interested in your community. If you are willing to do this for free, youll get more inscription than you will be able to handle. If you plan to do this, you may want to focus on teenagers. This may help them to find their own interest and to give them a chance to express their creative mind. This will lead to a win-win condition!In addition the ideas above, you may consider to create your own business cards.This may help you to leave your link and colors to people your meet. As people are generally curious, most of them will take the time to take a look at your website.

In Summary

As we previously said at the beginning of this article, developing a popular blog is not something easy. In fact, it is all about creating relationship and mastering your distribution channels development. The following schema summarizes the different distribution channels and their link with your blog to a recurrent process that may eventually lead get popularity.

coreaudiencedevelopmentanddistributionprocess The Secret to Developing a Popular Blog

When you are visible and active, you influence people to talk about you and to generate traffic and new readers. The quality of your content is essential to attract new readers but, likewise youll need help from your engaged audience to distribute your content and generate more traffic and more readers.

It is critical to focus your distribution strategy on creating strong relationships and building an engaged community around your blog. This will eventually show you the incredible strength of developing a supportive core audience.

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15 thoughts on “The Secret to Developing a Popular Blog

  1. great post dude, you really fleshed things out.

    the problogger is really good at fostering relationships, i see him everywere online and has frequent meetups in the real world.

    also, many online advertisers forget many of the traditional off-line techniques that are simple and effective. i am really guilty of this myself, so I am revisiting marketing 101 stuff and teachings of marketing master David Ogilvy

  2. @Marc: Thanks for your comment and your support. You are right when saying that off-line techniques are quite effective. For example, we have obvious proofs in the off-line market that the word of mouth marketing is one of the most efficient way to get new clients.

  3. Wow! Excellent resource, and with diagrams :) Good work. Will have to bookmark and re-read.

  4. @jonson roth: Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it! By the way, I really enjoy adding diagrams. I personally like to have a visual support. It makes the content to be clearer and this is a quality element that I particularly enjoy.

    Hope you’ll make a little stop by my blog! :)

    Thanks again!

  5. Hans, a very thorough post with a lot of great information.

    This line, “As we previously say, content distribution is all about relationship” in particular strikes me as important. Relationship is SO vital in establishing trust and ongoing dialog. There’s just nothing better than a word of mouth recommendation.

    If my friend eats at a restaurant and says it’s great, I’m going to eat there too. If the tv celeb. tells me it’s great on a commercial, I might eat there. If an unknown actor tells me it’s great I might, possibly, consider going there – maybe.

    I discuss the question of relationships and a priori expectactions in this article about Marketing Lessons.

    Julia Roberts pre-disposed me towards liking an unknown actress!

    We have to remember that, fundamentally, we are all social creatures with all that implies.

  6. @Sublime Products: Thanks for your comment. I really enjoy getting feedbacks.

    Now, concerning relationship, I think it’s the basement of blogging and marketing in general. No matter your niche or whatever you do, relationship is the foundation. As you said, we are social creatures and we need others to accomplish ourselves. Another essential thing: generosity and altruism are the food of any lasting relationship!

    Don’t hesitate to contact me directly is you need anything: http://www.catchtheposts.com

  7. That was a very informative article. I’m glad I found it on the forum. I agree with you about the word of mouth part of advertising. I have used that form of advertising more extensively since I have created my own business card for my blogs.

    I am still learning more about keywords and how to use them in my posts. Traffic from search engines brings in people who are more willing to stick around and look through my archives than just using forums to bring in readers. Great article will be looking for more from you.

  8. @Majik: Thanks for the good words! Hope to hear from you on my blog! Never hesitate to contact me personally!