Marketing Your Blog by Christy Jordan
Quick notes at a glance
Food Blog South 2011
Note: I spoke for about an hour and held a question and answer session to address specific needs of the audience. These are my basic notes of things I went over which I feel hold the most importance in building a marketable blog and setting it up to be successfully marketed. These are my quick notes. I hope you find them helpful. I’d love to answer your questions but am a bit short on time and need to devote as much as possible to the recipe section of Southern Plate.
1. Have your own domain – This lets companies and readers take you more seriously.
2. Design and Layout – This is something that must be constantly watched based on your ever changing audience to improve the readability and appeal of your audience. For example: My blog began with an awful lot of pink. Once I realized I had a lot of male readers, I changed it to red. Layout is also important to make sure you are showcasing your content to it’s full potential. Don’t be afraid to try new things and see how they work – you can always change it back.
3. Use your own voice – You have a unique voice. Rather than try to emulate someone else, be your own person. People will relate to and identify your genuineness and it will draw them to you. Over the long haul, your voice will remain consistent because it is your own.
4. Be predictable – Decide a tone and general “rating” in your mind for your blog. I work to always remain family friendly and positive on my blog. Companies who come and read Southern Plate can see that and feel comfortable trusting me to represent them. A blogger who has a bad day and takes it public on their blog is a risk to any companies who work with them.
5. Be consistent, offer valuable content – Posting regularly and offering content that is of value to readers makes you a value to companies who would like to reach your ever growing audience.
6. Make sure your site is available -Watch your services – If you or your readers rely on a service (such as email subscription programs, hosting) make sure you have a good one. In my experience, you get what you pay for. I don’t rely on any free services but rather choose paid ones which allow me to reach a human being in a single phone call 24/7. This ensures my site is always up and running and any problems a reader has can be addressed immediately. I recommend Aweber for email subscriptions and bluehost for hosting. Bluehost subscription includes a private domain registration ($40 value) so if you are going to go with them don’t buy your domain ahead of time. Note: I recently had to leave Bluehost for Liquidweb due to traffic but I still recommend Bluehost as they were a great host for the two years I was with them and my husband still runs his site through them.
7. Social Media – Social media is one of the greatest free tools available to help you find and grow your audience. Stumbleupon, Twitter, and Facebook are the three I recommend the most. However, social media changes so rapidly that this list could be completely outdated in a week.
8. Gauge your audience – You must constantly be engaging your audience in order to learn who they are and how best to “visit” with them on your blog. For example, my Facebook fan page is where I can be chatty with my readers but my Twitter following is made up more of pr people and other bloggers so I keep chattiness to a minimum there.
9. Be neighborly. Visit other blogs in the same genre as you or related subjects. Read their content and leave a sincere comment if something speaks to you. They will most likely visit you back and a community will spring forth.
10. Evaluate your own site on a regular basis. I like to go to websitegrader.com to evaluate my website. You will get a free report card on your site as well as detailed instructions on areas you can improve. Your blog is constantly evolving and there will always be something you can do to improve it.
11. Tag your posts – One work tags on all of your posts will allow readers and search engines to find your content easily, thereby effectively marketing your blog while you sleep. One word tags cast the biggest net. My post on Peanut Butter Fudge Iced Brownies has the following tags: peanut, butter, brownies, old, fashioned, heritage, recipe, recipes, author, cookbook, christy, jordan, southern, plate, south, granny, grandmother, chocolate… and so on. With these tags, if anyone types in “Old fashioned peanut butter fudge brownies” my post would come up. Likewise with any combination of the words I entered. This goes a long way to increasing your ability to be found and google ranking.
12. Get to know your audience. Encourage feedback in comments and across social media. When someone asks a question in your comments, answer them. Try to address as many comments as time will allow. This takes your blog from a lectern to a conversation.
13. Include a way for readers to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter (if you have one.)- and if you don’t have one, get one. People may love your blog and what you do but we’re all busy and chances are pretty high that they might simply forget to come back. By encouraging others to subscribe to your email newsletter, you are opening the door for them to have a reminder each time you post. Let them know the value in a statement such as “Want more? Subscribe by email and never miss a single post!”. The next step after this is for you to respect and appreciate their time, making sure to only send them valuable content. These readers are your core audience, the ones you can always count on to visit you time and again. Treat them as the valued community that they are. (Thanks to Wade Kwon for suggesting I add this!).
The most important rule I have in blogging is to put your heart into it. A new blog springs up every second and there are plenty of people out there going into blogging with the sole intent to make money. They are easy to spot and avoided by the masses.
If you put your heart into your blog, you may not get rich but I assure you that at the end of the day, the rewards will be priceless.