Enhancing your online presence.
While there are many keys to a successful blog: content, style, activity etc., I have found the most overlooked key is the ability to enhance your online presence across different platforms. When I first starting writing I had no idea where my readers/followers would come from. Perhaps I even had this notion that they would actively come looking for me?! CRAZY TALK… I now know. Blogging, for financial reasons, is all about selling yourself to your online audience. This is impossible to do well without a strong online presence.
For quite some time I have resisted using other social media sites to essentially ‘advertise’ my blog to would be readers. My Facebook account, for example, is private and I believe, at last count, I have less than 40 people as my ‘friends’. I had never ventured into the world of Twitter, don’t have a smartphone and prefer to spend less time online and more time with my family. Unfortunately, when trying to earn a living blogging, it is necessary to get your ‘name’ out there. I am by no means an expert, and though my stats aren’t the highest, I am now actively promoting my blog online.
The first avenue I suggest to start enhancing your online presence is to start using Facebook, if you don’t have an account already. Make a personal profile and then start a page using your blog name. Though you can make your page private, or by invite only, it could make it difficult for people to find and follow you. My personal profile has very high security/private settings, but my page is public. In the sharing tab on WordPress you can then connect your blog to your Facebook page, which enables anything you post on your blog to then be posted automatically to your Facebook page. WordPress also has a Facebook Follow widget you can add directly onto your blog which enables your readers to ‘like’ and follow your Facebook page as well. It is a great tool to start enhancing your online presence and find new followers.
Secondly, though I am loath to suggest it, I strongly advise creating a Twitter account. Again, you can use the sharing tab in WordPress to automatically post from your blog to your Twitter account. They also provide a Twitter widget to add directly onto your blog page. If you are not online constantly, as I am not, I do advise to log in to Twitter at least once a day to follow other people, re-tweet anything interesting and plug your blog as much as possible. I am not sure how many people have followed my blog through using Twitter, but I do know my stats have risen dramatically since creating my Twitter account.
Recently I also started reading the WordPress support posts on increasing traffic to your account (WordPress topic: Traffic), which I strongly suggest reading as they contain a wealth of knowledge. Even if you have been blogging for a while, these pages have some great suggestions for tweaking your blog, using tags and categories to your best advantage and how to enhance your online presence. WordPress also has a free ‘University’ which has various courses for bloggers of all levels and experience. Though I haven’t taken one of their courses yet, I am currently waiting for registration to begin in February; if I manage to get into a course I will be sure to write a thorough review of the content.
Though I have never looked into Google+, WordPress strongly advises creating an account (free unless you want a business account). I am not as familiar with Google+, and it is different than other social media platforms, but I have created a Group and a Community using my blog name. Again, through WordPress you can have your posts automatically sent to your Google+ account. Google+ seems especially beneficial if you have a business to promote.
By far the simplest ways to enhance your online presence though are to follow, like and comment on other people’s blogs. Sometimes we get too busy or forget to go through our Reader tab and actually read the bloggers we are following. We may go through and like their posts, but how many of you actually take the time to go on to each other’s pages, read through the material and comment?! I am so guilty of never commenting on posts, even the ones I really like. WordPress University actually has a course just on commenting on blog posts. I sometimes even get worried that I am ‘bothering’ other bloggers by commenting! CRAZY TALK AGAIN! What we have to remember is that they are just people like us, blogging as we do and a little recognition goes a long way. It is also a great way to introduce yourself to fellow bloggers and potential readers of your own blog.
Remember though, you can use every social media site and technique out there, but if you don’t have the content, the people won’t come. Spend some time thinking about what you are ‘selling’/offering to your readers. In a way, you are branding your blog and yourself. Think about how search engines will find you. Word of mouth isn’t always enough these days, get yourself out there!