Outside of missing the 22 ways to successfully market your blog by getting new traffic and repeat traffic, here are some major caveats offered from experience. Don't get caught doing these 11 things that will drive your blog readership down instead of up.
- Be careful who you share with - Phil Lauterjung of phillauterjung.com offers the "worst way I have found so far is targeting either the wrong audience or too broad of an audience... it just takes time to figure how which [audiences] are good and which are not." Try to glean from your feedback and traffic which audience is most appropriate for your content. With tools like LinkedIn and Facebook and the proliferation of other blogs and specialty online communities there's no reason to be targeting the wrong group. Be extra careful too with your existing clients and other connections. Don't provide links to every post when they're not relevant to people. Also an interesting note from Maggie Thurber of Thurber's Thoughts don't expect clients to share your perspective on every subject you blog about.
- Being a bad sport - if you're going to blog, some level of diplomacy will be critical. Be careful how you respond to disruptive behavior. Also be careful with humor and sarcasm because just like in email, sometimes these things don't translate well in 'text only". Many companies and individuals worry about negative comments on their blog. While negative comments can be a terrible thing, sometimes the reactions of your other community members (who really enjoy your content) can be so compelling that the negative comment turns into a positive for the whole community. While I don't exactly encourage them, negative comments can sometimes give a community a badge of authenticity, transparency and well, community because you've handled adversity together. And keep in mind that your reactions to comments are often more important than the original comment. Be a good sport.
- Don't be a blog snob! - while there are only so many hours in the day, you want to be careful not to turn down opportunities to write for other blogs just because they may be smaller and less well known. As I mentioned in 13 Ways to Drive Blog Readership it is critical to put your content in front of new audiences and guest posting has the added benefit of building a new relationship with a vocal supporter.
- Silo-ing – as you know it's critical that you don't forget to include "marketing time" in the time you spend on your blog. But an even more insidious threat is what I call "silo"-ing your blog content. Even if you're blogging for a small or intimate audience (a blog directed at clients for example) you have to make sure to incorporate your content throughout your corporate presence. Feature it on your Home page, link to it in newsletters, mention it in client conversations, reference it in other marketing materials, in your site's sidebars and in your customer service emails. Feature reader comments. Make sure the blog is a fully integrated part of your brand, not a "well we thought we should blog but it's not real content so we're not sure if we want anyone to actually read it". If you haven't yet, read my post on Building Blog Loyalty for tips.
- Don't be "that jerk" – imagine for a moment you're at a wedding and there's a guest (a friend of a friend I'm sure) talking to every single person there and trying to give them a "hard sell," or agonizingly droning on about a topic only they care about. Marketing your blog to the wrong audience can feel to other people a lot like you're that jerk behaving badly at the party - all self promotion and no mutual value. While it's more obvious to see this and avoid it when you're face-to-face, just because you're online doesn't mean there aren't rules. Get into a community and spend time there to learn how the community works, what it's culture is and how others use it. Then you can determine if it's an appropriate venue for your content. Everyone makes a mistake from time to time but try to rectify it quickly.
- Irrelevant "I Need To Post" Content – while "irrelevant" means different things to different people, I'll bet you have a pretty good idea what it means to your readers. If you're Perez Hilton it will look a little different than if you're Jim Cramer. Post regularly but not if the price is content that will make your readers wonder why you bothered!
- Hiding Your Content – make sure the content is easy to find. Use categories and groupings that are easy for your readers to understand and reflects the way they search for content when they come to your site. You can even use tools like installing Google Search on your site to learn what visitors are searching for so you can use the terminology your searchers use.
- Copying someone else -- maintain your originality and know your voice. There's no need to copy other people. I liked the way Brock Green of JustinAamir.com put it: "[Don't compromise] on content for the sake of acceptance by another niche/group (if you dont like it and if it doesnt interest you, why post about it?)". While you want to respect your readers, the most successful bloggers are the ones who really have their own voice that readers come to recognize and enjoy.
- Trying to Buy Readers - while you may be able to buy comments, reviews, friends on Facebook and even blog posts(!) I don't recommend trying to buy readers. Not because it won't work per se, but because it can just go so horribly wrong and be a big waste of money. Purchasing email lists gets you flagged as a spammer. Buying banner and Pay Per Click ads is expensive. Direct mail (remember that?) can still work for some things but avoid it here. Remember you're trying to build a community. If you want to spend money, spend it instead on good design, good software features, a good marketing person and/or a good intern to help you with some of the leg work of relationship building, link building, and social marketing. Or maybe on a new digital camera for video posts! So much more compelling than yet another ad or piece of spam.
- Being Unprepared - take your blog seriously if you want others to. Be ready for opportunities to promote your self and your blog with business cards, flyers, and an updated bio and make sure they have your blog link on them. Thanks to Brock for this one from the trenches!
- Giving Up! - this one was repeated by those who shared their experiences. In fact giving up was the most popular "Worst Tactic" submitted! While we know that "giving up" is generally lame, I would like to temper that with some advice. You should expect it to take 2-3 years of hard labor (regular posting, consistent marketing, consistent relationship building) for your blog to gain traction. Perhaps 1 year if you have a major backer or ownership of a large community. During that time it's slow and steady. If you don't have 2-3 years to dedicate the time required, think about doing something else or reevaluate your goals for your blog. You need to plan for the long haul on this one so don't give up if things don't move as quickly as you thought they would!
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