Disclaimer: If you are not a blogger nor have zero interest in the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes Kosher on a Budget run, then this post (and part 1 yesterday) may be pretty uninteresting to you.
Yesterday, I dished on my personal experiences at the Savvy Blogging Summit in Colorado Springs, CO. And I promised that today I would give a more detailed Top 10 List of the Best Take Aways from conference.
Well, here goes a major blogging no-no: I’m breaking a promise. I’m giving you the Top 5 instead. And I’m dividing it into two posts, because I got so darn wordy (shocker) that I wanted to spare you a 2,000-word post.
Bear in mind as you read these, that the point of the Savvy Blogging Summit is to help bloggers position themselves for success – in business terms.
That said, the tips I’m going to be sharing with you today are incredibly valuable whether or not you are interested in making money from your blog. They will help you grow your readership and connect with them in more valuable ways – which, ultimately, is why most of us are blogging anyway.
1. Social Media Matters – But So Does Your Time
These venues are incredibly valuable for driving traffic to your blog. I can attest to this personally, as Facebook is my #1 referrer.
Not only is social media a great way to connect with readers, it’s also a great way to connect with brands. Brands that may be interested in your unique voice. Brands that may be interested in leveraging your influence to connect in a way that is genuine and meaningful – for all parties involved.
In other words, social media matters. A lot.
But… (you knew there was a but) social media is a MAJOR time-suck. You can easily spend HOURS a day doing just Facebook and Twitter, and then what happens to content on your blog. Not to mention, you know, the rest of your life?!
That’s why it’s really, really, really important that you prioritize. Most of the “big” bloggers are doing all the social media channels, but there are a growing number of them that are focusing on just one or two. And they’re finding that that’s really okay. You don’t need to be everywhere, all the time.
For me, right now, my top priorities, in order, are: 1. Facebook, 2. Twitter and 3. Google+. Google+ is new to me (and to the world). I plan to spend a few months figuring it out, but for now, I’m a very casual user.
As for Twitter and Facebook, these are really where my time goes. I’ve discoverd that Facebook is the best way for me to connect with readers. There is more genuine back and forth – actual conversation. And frankly, I suspect that the vast majority of my readers are on Facebook. I’m not sure that the same can be said of Twitter.
What Twitter has been great for, however, is connecting with other bloggers. Not only is it an outlet and a resource, but it’s also a wonderful way to “network” with other bloggers who can help draw attention to your posts. I finally was convinced to download TweetDeck (thanks Kelly & Sara!), rather than going to Twitter.com for updates. Since doing this, I’ve been able to be far more active on Twitter – in far less time.
2. Differentiate Yourself
Five years ago, you could start a blog about the cute things your dog did that day – and get a few thousand page views in no time flat. The blogging world was much less saturated. There was far less competition – for readers, and for advertisers.
Today there are hundreds of thousands of established blogs, pushing out millions of posts each day. It’s content-overload.
For those of us
foolish brave enough to be entering this fray, we absolutely must be able to provide readers with something unique. Something no one else is giving them.
You can be the best writer in the world (which I wish I was ;-)) and still not get any traction. The frugal niche, in which KOAB finds itself, is bloated. That doesn’t mean you can’t start a frugal blog today. But it does mean you have to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other deal, freebie and coupon-pushers out there.
Same thing goes no matter what your niche: Cooking, religion, politics, lifestyle, etc.
I’m lucky that when I started KOAB, I was instantly different: I was the only (active) kosher couponing blog. That’s different, yes, but it’s not enough. I must continue to leverage that difference to reach new readers – and to get our unique needs in front of potential brand partners.
3. Find Your Authentic Voice
This follows from differentiating yourself, but it goes beyond that. Lots of bloggers have this cool, slightly snarky thing going on. I love reading those blogs. They make me laugh. I tried it for a while, but I realized it didn’t feel authentic. I was being a copy-cat. Readers know when you’re not being real with them – and they don’t like it.
Authenticity, however, goes beyond writing style. It’s also about passion. If you are blogging about gadgets because you think that’s a great way to make money, but could really care less about gadgets, guess what? You’re going to hate your blog. And so will your readers. Oh, and P.S. – no brand is going to want to partner with a blog that everyone hates.
If you are blogging about something you genuinely, truthfully care about – and have EXPERIENCE with – it will translate on the screen. You may still have typos and posts that fall flat, but your body of work will be authentic.
One last point on authenticity – and this is especially important if you are blogging for business: Find your moral core. I’ve seen frugal bloggers hocking deals on products that a quick Google search can tell me are cr*p. Those bloggers probably make a few bucks (or even a few hundred bucks, depending on the size of their readership) off those links.
But I just can’t do that. Sure, I post deals that sometimes go south (like that Huggies deal at Medco… grr), but I won’t ever knowingly share a product that I know to be inferior.
Yes, I love working with brands on giveaways and sponsorships, but I won’t embrace a partner whose product I don’t like or whose business ethics I don’t feel good about.
Draw your lines in the sand. Whatever they are, know what they are – and stay true to them.
And on that note, I’m going to ask you to stay tuned tomorrow for Blogging Take-Aways #4 and #5. But for now, I can’t wait to hear what you think of #1 – 3.