02 June 2011

Your Top Blogging Questions Answered

This is a guest post by Christina Lucas of The Blog Entourage

I hear a lot of blogging questions in all of the blogging communities, and I get a lot of emails from bloggers with all kinds of questions. Here are my answers to the questions I hear most often and the questions that I think are very important.
Photo: Kristina B

Q: How do people get hundreds of followers in a short amount of time?
A: The absolute fastest way from what I've seen is by doing a giveaway. One of the required entries is usually to follow the blogger who is hosting the giveaway. Of course this only works if you give away something great and promote the giveaway. That could be another blog post all in itself. I'll sum it up by saying google "giveaway linky lists", "online giveaway communities", and "giveaway directories".

In blogging communities like Bloggy Moms, there are actually "Follow Me, I'll Follow You" groups and threads. I'll admit, I've done it. You don't want to waste a lot of time doing this, but doing it a few times to boost your numbers and get out of your usual blog circle can attract new readers. Just try to focus on blogs that are similar to yours in content. Those bloggers are most likely to be interested in your blog.

Q: Does Facebook really help your blog?
A: YES! Even just sharing links to your posts on your personal FB page can increase traffic considerably (if you know how to grab attention with headlines and photos.) And setting up a Facebook fanpage for your blog is easy and can be very effective if you do things like getting people involved with questions/polls, allowing other people to post on your wall to promote themselves, and sharing links that are either entertaining or helpful. Post silly pics of yourself and update your status just how you do on your personal page. I've found that keeping things personal rather than trying to keep things professional is a much better way to get people excited about your fanpage.  

Q: What is the best way to reply to comments on your blog (email? commenting on the thread? commenting on the other person's blog?)
A: It depends. I think you should always make an effort to comment back directly on the comments thread. It gives the blog more of a community feel, which encourages people to leave more comments. I also think it's important to try and visit their blogs and reciprocate the comment love.

If they ask a very important question and you really want to make sure they get your reply, that is when I think it's best to just email them. But most of all I recommend commenting back on your own blog in the comments thread. Like I said, it encourages community interaction and it also bumps up your number of comments on a post, which further encourages people to leave comments.

The most important thing is to try and reply in any way and whenever you can. Some people might stop coming by your blog if they constantly leave comments and you never acknowledge them... hmmm, that could be a relationship tip too!

Q: How do you manage your networking time?
A: Just like everything else. I schedule it. It's so easy to get carried away online. Networking is a never ending task, so you really have to plan what you're doing or you could end up wasting hours doing nothing. I usually start with a list when I sit down at my desk. It usually reads something like:
  • post blog on The Blog Entourage 
  • update status on all FB pages 
  • share post link in all blogging communities 
  • read and comment on other blogs 
  • share links on blogging groups on etsy 
  • return emails about guest blogging...
You get the idea. Doing it like that really helps me knock everything out quickly. And with networking, I think it's vital to spread one net very sparse and wide and one net very small and tight-knit. You want a lot of feelers out there on the big bad web, but you also need a smaller, more effective circle. Another way to save time is to sink up your sharing sites, like FB and twitter and networked blogs, so that things automatically update.

Q: Where should I place my networking links and my tabs on my blog?
A: Wherever you want! Just make sure they are organized and easy to find. Google advertising has found that the top middle of a web page gets the most attention from readers, so I prefer to keep my content tabs there. And it's become quite common for bloggers to put all of their networking links in either sidebar, so naturally that is where most bloggers are going to expect yours to be whenever they go looking for them.

Q: Should I blog? Can it help my writing/business?
A: YES and YES! Blogging is just one of the main ways you can and should be networking and marketing yourself online... Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Communities, Directories, and sites like Hubpages; I know it can be overwhelming, but it is necessary. Just make your daily list and follow my rule of one wide net and one small net, and you can do it!

Q: How should I go about guest blogging?
A: I get a lot of bloggers who are so nervous on how to approach me about guest blogging, but really there is no standard blogging way on how to do it. It really just depends on the blogger and how they want you to submit. People who regularly feature other bloggers usually have guidelines. If so, use them! If you're still not sure, just email them and ask them!

The very best advice I can give on guest blogging, whether you are featuring someone on your blog or vice versa is BE SPECIFIC. Pick a specific topic and pick a specific blogger and pitch away. And the absolute easiest way to go about having someone write a guest post for you is to have them type it in Blogger; pictures, links, text formatting and all. Then they can select and copy the whole thing in the "edit html" tab and email it to you. Then all you have to do is copy and paste it into your "edit html" tab in a new post, and viola! All the links, pictures, etc paste exactly how they typed it up.

Christina Lucas of The Blog Entourage has a major passion for chocolate and desserts, and especially for gift giving.

In her etsy store you will find her fresh handmade chocolate treats. Visit her blog for more blogging tips and become a part of her growing community.

Want to know more? Read all articles in the How to Blog Like a Pro series.