This article was originally written as a guest post on The Internet Marketing Blog for Today. Thanks to the blog owner Erwin Tan for hosting!
Starting a niche blog is both exciting and overwhelming. Once you post a few articles, that “if you build it, they will come” mentality sets in, and you start checking your stats every 5 minutes. And then you realize that maybe “if you build it AND promote it, they will come.” So you spend hours submitting your articles to social media sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, BlogCatalog, commenting on blogs, replying in forums, and so on. Now you’re checking your stats every 30 seconds.
There are some bloggers out there screaming, “This is how I did it! Just follow these steps, and you’ll get a thousand visitors a day!” But for most bloggers, this is not how it works. It takes dedication, passion, and time. But most of all, it takes content that’s going to get people’s attention enough for them to stick around, bookmark it, and tell a few people about it. Here are some tips to creating quality content worthy of social media marketing.
1. Be interesting
Since there’s an oversaturation of blogs out there today, people are picky, and they won’t Stumble, Digg, Furl, whatever your blog if it’s not interesting. It’s easy to submit your own articles to bookmarking and networking sites, but these websites will only get you traffic if the content you submit goes viral. And in order for this to happen, your content has to be interesting.
To be interesting, you need to find your own blogging voice. This takes time and practice, especially if you haven’t written much in the past. Let your passion for your topic and your sense of humor come across in your posts. Instead of sounding like a textbook, tell a story. Do your research, but don’t over-research; write from your own perspective. There’s a great article on Copy Blogger about How To Be Interesting, including tips like “be wrong,” “unleash your inner dork,” and “break an important piece of news.”
2. Be useful
If you only write about topics that have been covered in hundred of other blogs, readers won’t find your content very useful. You can use social sites to find hot topics in your niche.
- Read other blogs in your niche and see what questions people are asking
- Keep track of your category in social bookmarking sites and see what gets Dugg, Stumbled, etc. the most
- Use keyword tools like Wordtracker to see what people are searching for
- Read forums in your niche to find out what information people are asking for the most
You can get your best ideas not from other people’s articles, but from the discussion that goes on as a result. If you do write about something that’s been written about a zillion times, make sure you have your own unique spin and refer to your past experiences. People won’t promote your content for you if they’ve already read the exact same thing on 10 other blogs.
3. Be controversial
This one can be tricky, especially if you are afraid of ruining your reputation as a professional blogger, or you’re generally sensitive to criticism. But let me tell you, a controversial article will get a lot of attention because people will just HAVE to put their two cents in if they disagree with you. If you get a lot of comments, people might react to your post by posting about it in their own blogs. This will get you even MORE traffic. And you don’t have to be controversial in the negative sense. If you can, make your readers laugh. Write something hysterically sarcastic and see what the reaction’s like. People tend to respond to sarcasm.
4. Encourage discussion
End each of your posts with a question posed to your readers. This will make it easier for your readers come up with a comment, and these comments can turn into a discussion that can last long after you’ve posted the article. And the more comments your article has, the more likely people will think it’s worthy enough to read.
There are several wordpress plugins you can use to give readers an incentive to comment on your blog. You can see an example of this in Erwin’s “Top Commentators” section over to the right.
Remember, blogging isn’t a race to the finish line. You’re not going to see immediate traffic; success will be a long-term progression. If you want to be able to promote your content on social media sites, be interesting and unique, and don’t be afraid to let your voice show in your blog.
What kinds of blog posts do you tend to bookmark or email to friends? Do you click the ads on these interesting blogs? How do you write your own content to attract readers?