Below is an interview I conducted with Erin Everhart, Web and Social Media Marketing Director of 352 Media Group. Erin is speaking on the “Screw Link Building. It’s called Relationship Building” at SES Chicago 2012.
Building a blog is only half the battle. Getting it discovered and building traffic towards it will remain a lifelong time investment.
1) By the end of 2011, NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey company, tracked more than 181 million blogs around the world, up from 36 million only five years earlier in 2006. It seems daunting to start up a blog and wonder when and how much time (and money?) do I have to invest in order to build awareness and traffic towards my own blog. If I’m a small business, where do I begin? Can you share an example?
It’ll take a lot of time. I don’t want to discourage anyone from doing it, but I think you have to know the expectations before you jump right into it. It’s not like you’re going to start a blog tomorrow and immediately be garnering traffic. We started our blog Ranting and Raving years ago and we’re just now starting to build a steady following. I think the biggest thing for small businesses is really establishing that niche that you want to hit. There are a lot of blogs that cover a lot of different topics so figure out what you can say that not everyone else does. Don’t forget to map out a marketing plan for your blog. Your blog should have a mission statement, a target audience, a purpose. We developed a persona for our blog of who our audience was and each time we write a post, we ask ourselves: “OK, how is this going to benefit Molly the Marketer?” And don’t forget that there are a lot of blogs that are completely inactive and link networks, so don’t get too distraught by those large numbers.
2) Should I only blog about what I’m interested in? Will I benefit from creating a blog that will potentially draw more traffic because it’s a topic that’s clearly visible in the blogosphere?
Yes, I would definitely only blog about something that you’re interested in. Blogging is hard, and frankly, it can be pretty grueling work, and there will be times when the last thing you want to do is write. If you’re not passionate about the topic, then it’s going to be that much harder to keep it going. People who start blogs just for the sake of traffic are usually the ones who stop blogging after a couple of months and the initial “honeymoon” phase has worn off. The best bloggers out there are those that are uber-passionate. Blogging for the sake of traffic is like getting a link for the sake of a link. It may have worked years ago, but the industry is rapidly changing and people are getting much, much smarter.
3) Can you provide one example for each of these platforms, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter, illustrating how I might generate traffic towards my blog?
- Pinterest: Pinterest drives sick traffic, as long as your content is geared toward women. I’ve found that food, home décor, and clothing make the most impact on Pinterest, so whenever you’re thinking about a post to write, see if you can weave any visuals in there that would allow you for pinning. Also, set up different boards based off the different categories you blog on.
- LinkedIn: I use this as a tool to find a connect with other bloggers. You can search for writers, bloggers, editors, etc. in your local area and then reach out to them directly on LinkedIn or through another platform. Then work them for either guest blogging opportunities or maybe ask to interview them on your blog. You can read more about that here: http://mashable.com/2011/10/03/linkedin-seo/.
- Twitter: I use this similar to LinkedIn in finding influencers to connect with. It’s also probably one of the best mediums to push out your content. Keep your tweets creative and snappy and definitely well less than 140 characters to allow ample room for retweeting.
4) If I’m going to try building a relationship with a blogger who has never heard of me, would your preference be a straight forward email?
Not necessarily. My new addiction is going straight through social media when contacting people. People are inundated with emails — I know I get upwards of three figures every day, half of which are people want to blog on my site — and it’s exhausting and also impossible to wade through them all. Instead, start following them on Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn. Reply to them a couple of times. Get to know them. Let them know that you’re a legit person. I wrote about some specific tasks you can take with each of those here:
5) Can you share a highlight or two from one case study of a successful pitch/campaign that led to a blog’s spectacular growth and visibility in the blogosphere?
Attached is an example of a pitch that I sent out that you can publish. It’s immediately establishes that I am, in fact, a real person, it makes a connection with the blogger to something that I read on her site, and I gave her a new tip that she can share with readers. Not only did I get one guest blogging opportunity out of this, she’s one of my go-to sources when I have something that will up her ally. We have a great relationship, and in turn, I can get exposure for many of my clients, not just one of them.
You can see Erin tomorrow at SES Chicago 4:30-5:30pm, track 3.