Tuesday, July 10, 2007

10 Tips to Drive Traffic to Your Blog by Yaro Starak

In every bloggers life comes a special day - the day they first launch a new blog. Now unless you went out and purchased someone else's blog chances are your blog launched with only one very loyal reader - you. Maybe a few days later you received a few hits when you told your sister, father, girlfriend and best friend about your new blog but that's about as far you went when it comes to finding readers.

Here are the top 10 techniques new bloggers can use to find readers. These are tips specifically for new bloggers, those people who have next-to-no audience at the moment and want to get the ball rolling.

It helps if you work on this list from top to bottom as each technique builds on the previous step to help you create momentum. Eventually once you establish enough momentum you gain what is called "traction", which is a large enough audience base (about 500 readers a day is good) that you no longer have to work too hard on finding new readers. Instead your current loyal readers do the work for you through word of mouth.

Top 10 Tips

10. Write at least five major "pillar" articles. A pillar article is usually a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good "how-to" lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn't news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.

9. Write one new blog post per day minimum. Not every post has to be a pillar, but you should work on getting those five pillars done at the same time as you keep your blog fresh with a daily news or short article style post. The important thing here is to demonstrate to first time visitors that your blog is updated all the time so they feel that if they come back tomorrow they will likely find something new. This causes them to bookmark your site or subscribe to your blog feed.

You don't have to produce one post per day all the time but it is important you do when your blog is brand new. Once you get traction you still need to keep the fresh content coming but your loyal audience will be more forgiving if you slow down to a few per week instead. The first few months are critical so the more content you can produce at this time the better.

8. Use a proper domain name. If you are serious about blogging be series about what you call your blog. In order for people to easily spread the word about your blog you need an easily rememberable domain name. People often talk about blogs they like when they are speaking to friends in the real world (that's the offline world, you remember that place right?) so you need to make it easy for them to spread the word and pass on your URL. Try and get a .com if you can and focus on small easy to remember domains rather than worry about having the correct keywords (of course if you can get great keywords and easy to remember then you've done a good job!).

7. Start commenting on other blogs. Once you have your pillar articles and your daily fresh smaller articles your blog is ready to be exposed to the world. One of the best ways to find the right type of reader for your blog is to comment on other people's blogs. You should aim to comment on blogs focused on a similar niche topic to yours since the readers there will be more likely to be interested in your blog.

Most blog commenting systems allow you to have your name/title linked to your blog when you leave a comment. This is how people find your blog. If you are a prolific commentor and always have something valuable to say then people will be interested to read more of your work and hence click through to visit your blog.

6. Trackback and link to other blogs in your blog posts. A trackback is sort of like a blog conversation. When you write a new article to your blog and it links or references another blogger's article you can do a trackback to their entry. What this does is leave a truncated summary of your blog post on their blog entry - it's sort of like your blog telling someone else's blog that you wrote an article mentioning them. Trackbacks often appear like comments.

This is a good technique because like leaving comments a trackback leaves a link from another blog back to yours for readers to follow, but it also does something very important - it gets the attention of another blogger. The other blogger will come and read your post eager to see what you wrote about them. They may then become a loyal reader of yours or at least monitor you and if you are lucky some time down the road they may do a post linking to your blog bringing in more new readers.

5. Encourage comments on your own blog. One of the most powerful ways to convince someone to become a loyal reader is to show there are other loyal readers already following your work. If they see people commenting on your blog then they infer that your content must be good since you have readers so they should stick around and see what all the fuss is about. To encourage comments you can simply pose a question in a blog post. Be sure to always respond to comments as well so you can keep the conversation going.

4. Submit your latest pillar article to a blog carnival. A blog carnival is a post in a blog that summarizes a collection of articles from many different blogs on a specific topic. The idea is to collect some of the best content on a topic in a given week. Often many other blogs link back to a carnival host and as such the people that have articles featured in the carnival enjoy a spike in new readers.

To find the right blog carnival for your blog, do a search at http://blogcarnival.com/.

3. Submit your blog to blogtopsites.com. To be honest this tip is not going to bring in a flood of new readers but it's so easy to do and only takes five minutes so it's worth the effort. Go to Blog Top Sites, find the appropriate category for your blog and submit it. You have to copy and paste a couple of lines of code on to your blog so you can rank and then sit back and watch the traffic come in. You will probably only get 1-10 incoming readers per day with this technique but over time it can build up as you climb the rankings. It all helps!

2. Submit your articles to EzineArticles.com. This is another tip that doesn't bring in hundreds of new visitors immediately (although it can if you keep doing it) but it's worthwhile because you simply leverage what you already have - your pillar articles. Once a week or so take one of your pillar articles and submit it to Ezine Articles. Your article then becomes available to other people who can republish your article on their website or in their newsletter.

How you benefit is through what is called your "Resource Box". You create your own resource box which is like a signature file where you include one to two sentences and link back to your website (or blog in this case). Anyone who publishes your article has to include your resource box so you get incoming links. If someone with a large newsletter publishes your article you can get a lot of new readers at once.

1. Write more pillar articles. Everything you do above will help you to find blog readers however all of the techniques I've listed only work when you have strong pillars in place. Without them if you do everything above you may bring in readers but they won't stay or bother to come back. Aim for one solid pillar article per week and by the end of the year you will have a database of over 50 fantastic feature articles that will work hard for you to bring in more and more readers.

This article was by Yaro Starak, a professional blogger and my blog mentor. He is the leader of the Blog Mastermind mentoring program designed to teach bloggers how to earn a full time income blogging part time.

Click Here to Get More Info About Blog Mastermind

Monday, July 9, 2007

Need Traffic? Start Social Bookmarking

The reason why most blogger don't end up making any money from their efforts is due to low traffic.

This lack of traffic can be due to a variety of things; most likely either:
A) Poor Quality Content
B) Good Content, but people cannot find the site.

What I have come to learn is the easiest, most cost-efficient way to advertise and drive traffic to your site is to use social bookmarking. There are a variety of social bookmarking sites out there, like Digg.com, Del.icio.ous, Technorati, etc.

What these sites do is after you submit your article to their database; it varies from site-to-site, but your article is ranked and index'd according to how many people from that specific site bookmarked your article. For example; with Digg.com - each digg is like a vote of confidence in the article, telling other Digg.com readers that this article has this many votes.

Exponential Growth
The thing about sites like Digg.com is once your article reaches a particular level - it tends to grow exponentially from there. I watched an article I wrote yesturday go 6 hours after published without getting much more then 1 or 2 diggs.
Then suddenly; it became popular. Pretty soon, hundreds and hundreds of people had "dugg" my article and it had gotten onto the main page. From there it only grows faster because it has even more exposure. Eventually it got onto the Top 10 in all subject areas list. It currently has more than 2,000 diggs and has attracted more then 30,000 people to my site. Incredible - especially considering that my blog averaged around 200 visitors per day.

The article I'm mentioning can be found Here.

Now their are those who believe that you should only bookmark your very good articles - I am not one of those.

I bookmark every article; because I believe it is a game of chance and the Law of Averages tells me that if I submit X number of articles then eventually I'm going to get another article that breaks loose.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Pre-Planning Stage 4 - Hosting

So you've decided a subject; you've decided a name. You've decided whether or not to get a domain.

Now it's time to figure out where you will be hosting your blog from. Their are hundreds of thousands of hosts out there; and everyone wants your business - but I'm gonna tell you what my opinion is:
- Get free hosting until you get a readership that is substantial enough to pay for your hosting.

Sure, using free hosting does give you less "street cred", but bottom-line: it's free. Also, some of the free-hosting blog networks (like the ones listed below) help you get ranked by publicizing your blog into their directories. Wordpress is especially good at this.

The free hosts I like the most are:
1) Blogger.com - Incredibly easy to use; easy ad-placement - especially if you're going to use adsense. This is where, obviosuly, this blog is currently hosted at.

2) WordPress.com - Quite frankly, This is my favorite. The only problem - THEY DON'T LET YOU ADVERTISE OR USE ANY SCRIPTS
- You can pay wordpress to host you on their network and then they allow you to advertise and script; but this is by no means the most efficient way. It's like $300 a month for this service.

My tip is if you are going to pay for hosting; go with Godaddy. That just me; I have a lengthy history with GoDaddy.com for domain name registration and hosting and I love them. Domains are only 1.99 if you get any other service on the site at the same time (like a month of hosting).

If you are going to pay for your hosting; another option is to use Wordpress.Org's free-ware php scripts to make your site. This is probably the most professional and best way to go - if you are computer/blog literate enough to do it. What I suggest is blog a bit on free hosting and once you learn the ins and outs - slowly make your way to WordPress.

Their are also other blog-making script programs out there; but I'm not even going to mention them.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Pre-Planning Stage 3 - Domain or not to Domain

The Great Domain-Name Debate
- Most bloggers don't make much money, the saying goes "Blogging for pennies". However; its also true that most blogs don't aim to make money. Some dude studying abroad writing about his travels, perhaps dosen't intend to make a part-time job out of his blog, maybe he just wants to tell his family/friends how his trip is going. And thats fine.

If you DO want to make money blogging...
- You should probably get a domain. It adds professionality to your site. People see that you have invested in your blog and this leads them to conclude that you will update regularly (or atleast that you intend too).
Myself, I have not yet bought a domain for this blog - because I don't have the kind fo readership yet that will provide me with enough earnings to pay for the hosting/domain name. I'd rather just get free hosting and build up my readership and switch over to a domain once all the gears are moving.

Pre-Planning Stage 2 - Whats in a name?

The next step in pre-planning the strategy of your blog, after picking a subject area that you can blog about confidently and you believe the market is right for it (as in, no good competition - or atleast competition you can beat), the next step is to figure out the name.

There are several schools of thought on this subject as well. I'll go over the two that I know.

The SEO point-of-view:
- I'm not going to dive into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) here; but basically it is how a web designer goes about optimizing their site for the search engines - so that the engines have a much easier time finding the website and rank it higher due to it's proclivity to keywords.
- The SEO P.O.V. is that you should name your blog using keywords. Cut-n-dry. For example this blog is named "Beginner-Bloggers", I did this because I believe these 2 keywords will help my blog get noticed by search engines and ranked higher than if I named it "Nort's Blogging Tips". There is also a belief that putting a dash in your name will better allow search engines to differentiate between the keywords; hence "Beginner-Bloggers".

The Brand-Name Point of View:
- Their is also the conept of brand name. Some web designers will say that, although important to use keywords and to be seach engine optimized, do not underestimate the power of developing a brand name. Some sites have random names that - over time - have become synonymous with types of material. A good example would be BoingBoing.com . By the name of it; one has no idea what they discuss on it. However; because it has spent time developing its brand and cultivating an audience.

This concludes Pre-Planning Stage 2 - Whats in a name?, Keep an eye out for Stage 3 - Domain or not to domain (Coming soon)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Pre-Planning stage 1 - Finding a subject area

It is my opinion that before any site is done; before you buy a domain; before you even make a google account...

Do some Pre-Planning

The first step of which is to find out what subject you are going to spend countless hours discussing on your blog.
This means, listing out the subject areas you think you want to blog about. Keep in mind that "blog about" does not mean a few articles. "Blog about" means many articles; like an article a day for the life of your blog...

There are several schools of though:
I believe in "write alot about alittle, rather than alittle about alot".

This makes sense to me because I understand how important it is to have a site where people can come to daily and expect to see articles somehow relevant to prior and future articles. Not to mention; by honing in on a specific niche or subject - you greatly enhance your chances of getting good rankings in Search engines.

Make a list of all the subject areas you believe you have the experience; authority; and the education to be able to provide continuous - QUALITY - content about.

Begin the process of elimination; based on these factors:
- How's the competition for this subject area?
- What is my market, is it a niche? Are their enough readers of this kind of content? (sometimes you won't know until you make it)

Thus Concludes Stage 1, Stage 2 - Whats in a name? (coming soon)


Hello Readership!

This is the start of my Blog about Beginner Blogging; alitteration aside, I'm excited to get to work on this site.

The mission of Beginner Bloggers:
- Inform my readership (blogtalk for: audience) about the basics of blogging and how to get started/blogging

Why read here and not at some monster site that tells you how they made $[Insert Very Large Amount] and "you can too"

- You should read here for your beginner blogger information because... I am a novice blogger myself, just a few weeks ahead in my journey to create quality blogs that add value to peoples online experience.


-And I am figuring stuff out myself also; and I won't tell you "Well you need to SEO, and then try and do some Viral Marketing" because I'm still figuring out what that stuff is, I'll tell it to you as I'm discovering it, as a peer.

I'm not going to try and sell you anything
You heard it; this site will not directly be selling any product/service. I am just going to write about how to get started blogging, from a grounded/peer perspective. Sure, I intend to make money from this site - but by advertising banners that generate me money based on traffic, not by some phony E-books for sale.