Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Navigating the Net Part 2: Making The Most of a Blog

Part 1: Finding What You Want

I love having my own little corner of the internet. I can make it look however I want it to look, and I can say whatever I want. It is my own space so I an share my opinions openly and freely, and those that are interested can observe intently while those who think I'm crazy can ignore me and walk right on by. If someone leaves an offensive comment, I have the home turf advantage and can respond, start a discussion or completely obliterate their comment as if it was never shared. I can follow the rules and keep with mainstream, or I can create my own rules and do whatever I like.

As with every aspect of life, there are certain principles that should be adhered to if I want to bring results. This post will discuss some of those principles and provide tools to help you in your own blogging endeavors.

Decide Your Purpose

There are lots of reasons to have a blog. Many blogs are just to give updates to friends and family (I have a private one of these). Some blogs exist solely to boost the SEO of a partner site, and hopefully offer some useful information and connections in the process. A lot of blogs are there to provide useful information about a specific topic or details of a journey or discovery someone is involved with. It is possible to make money blogging, in fact, it is really easy to make money while blogging, but making a living can take more effort. Some blogs are full of recipes, or other ideas that fit into a specific niche.

My purpose isn't to make money, although I won't complain if I happen to make a little money or get free stuff in the process. My blog mainly exists to share things I've learned and hopefully add a little more useful content to the internet. I like being able to share my thoughts and opinions with the world and hope that it can help some people. I like being able to send links to sites I want to support and know that even if I no one ever reads my posts, at least I can help someone else out with some link juice. Occasionally I will write a post with a specific person in mind. I wrote my post about LASIK for a cousin that was considering it, and my bread post for a friend of mine.

Who Are You Writing For?


Almost as important as knowing the purpose of your blog is to know your audience. If you want your blog to be successful, it will help to reach out to a specific audience, or help meet specific needs. My audience is the whole world, usually more applicable to mommy bloggers or other SAHMs (Stay at home moms). Often a specific post will have a certain audience in mind, whether it be a specific person or group of people. But since the purpose of my blog is to just share all the information I can about all sorts of subjects and I don't really care if I have a consistent following or audience, it doesn't really matter that I don't have a niche.

If I cared about developing a good following, I would probably get a few blogs, focusing each on specific things, or at least try to fit my posts here into specific categories. I could have a site about food and nutrition or just general health. I could have one about religion and values. Another could be about parenting ideas.

It would be even easier to reach an audience if I got super specific. It is wise to write a little bit for the spiders and a little for your audience (I also like to write for myself). If you want a great example, check out this blog reaching out to an audience of people looking for gluten free crock pot recipes.

What To Include For Your Readers


Google is constantly changing its algorithms to try to make useful sites come out on top. Luckily, a lot of the things it looks for are good for readers as well as web spiders.

Take a moment and think about the last search you did online, or the last link you clicked on from facebook. If you found a page with information on it, what caught your attention? What made you want to stay? What made you want to leave? Chances are, other people notice the same things.

One nifty tool for catching attention is to use clever titles.  Maybe you will include a pun or a joke that your chosen audience will appreciate. Maybe a question or key words and phrases that will draw attention. Including numbers is always a good plot, especially if you are including information someone doesn't know. The title is probably the first thing that will get someones attention so choose a good one. Here are a few examples, all for the same type of post.
  • Top 10 Mistakes You Are Making On Your Blog
  • How To Get More Hits On Your Blog
  • 25 Ways To Make Money Blogging
  • Building Blogs By Burning Bananas
  • Find Out Who Is Reading Your Blog
  • What Does Your Blog Say About You?
  • Blogging Killed The Radio Star
 Another good tool is to make your blog easy on the eyes. Including pictures or videos will help and draw attention. You should also try to make your article scannable. Short paragraphs, headings, subheadings and bolded words increase the scannability of what you are writing so the reader can look through the whole article at a glance to decide if it is worth their time or to get some key points.

What To Include For Web Spiders

The more links you can put out, the better. If you want to reach out to lots of people and get google to think you are awesome, get yourself some links. You can give yourself links, or you can get other people to give them to you. You can also change the URL to have the keywords you want (see how my URL on this post differs from the title?)

Have you ever entered one of those giveaways online? From my experience, the site owner is willing to giveaway something cool of varying values in exchange for tons of links. If I want a chance to win, I need to give them a link. If I want to increase my chances, I give them more links so I enter my name 30 times in the drawing of 1000s of names.

Use social media. If you really want to promote your site, find ways to get people to share it on facebook, google +, twitter,and every other way you can think of. This post gives a lot of great ideas for promoting your blog posts.

If you want to do work on your own, try commenting on other sites that will include a link to your post, posting links to social media yourself or writing some articles for specific purposes just so you can put a link somewhere. I have ideas for lots of posts I want to get around to writing. Sometimes I will read something on another blog that inspires me to get around to writing such a post and I will write the post before I comment on the blog, then mention it in my comment.

What To Include For Yourself

I like blogging because I enjoy writing, and I enjoy sharing things. I also realize that if I share my blog with friends and family, they can listen or ignore as much as they want. They aren't a captive audience so if they think I'm crazy, they can ignore it, and if they find it interesting, they can share it or bring it up in conversation.

There can be other perks to blogging besides getting to say whatever you want to the whole world. You can make money or get free stuff if you know what you are doing.

Have you ever noticed how many blogs have links to Did you know that if you click on those links and buy something from amazon, the blog author can get a little commission? I think that is pretty cool. Amazon already has good prices most of the time, so if I can get something for the exact same price but a little of the money goes to someone I know instead of just to Amazon, why not do it?

Signing up for an to be an amazon affliate is easy. For example, I can give you a link to a pressure canner and cooker that I like, you can click on it, search around Amazon and buy something else and I get a small percent of money for it. Amazon wants links to boost their SEO, so they are willing to pay me to advertise. If you have a blog of your own, I recommend getting a free amazon associates account so that next time you shop on Amazon, you can click your own links and get paid to shop :)

Of course, you could also include links to things you are selling personally on a sales website or an affliate other than amazon. Amazon is the only place I am affliated with, but I've seen plenty of people that get paid for links or ads on the side of their page. There are also companies that will pay you to blog about specific things like this one. There are lots of companies out there that will gladly pay you to advertise for them.

I think a cool perk about blogging is the potential to get free stuff. Not from winning one of those giveaways (although that would be cool), but by asking for it. Last time I went to my favorite cloth diaper store, I mentioned I would be doing the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. She asked if I would be blogging about it. When she found out I was, she grabbed me a bamboo terry flat (something I had been coveting for a while, but couldn't justify the expense when we had plenty of perfectly good diapers already) and told me I could have it for free in exchange for a link. I've also linked to colored prefolds because they are cool. Julie is awesome and has been really helpful as I cloth diaper, so I'm happy to give her lots of links and referrals for nothing, but getting a fancy diaper for free is a big plus!


I know my blog isn't exemplary by any means when it comes to promoting SEO. But the randomness of it fits my personality, and since I'm not trying to make money, I don't usually care what the spiders think of it. I would rather come across as an imperfect person trying to share information freely than a sponsored salesman trying to sell something. But even though I am an imperfect person sharing information, I can still try to share it effectively.

I want something that is useful for me and for others. For those posts that I do want to promote, I'm grateful I have the knowledge and skills to do so without hiring an SEO company to do it for me. I hope these ideas can be useful to you too!

Were these ideas helpful? What do you do to promote your posts?

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