Step 3. Profit

May 14, 2009

You have now built and maintain a successful blog, you get many hits a day. People follow you and leave comments. Your commenters know each other. You’re listed on the first page on Google. What’s left? Sweet sweet cash.

Now, if you’re running a beat blog, you may not be able to make some cash off of it since the paper that is paying you might not be to happy about that. But in case you can, it’s time to check out Blogads and Google AdSense. Decide which would be better for your blog and let the money come in.

If those are not viable options (maybe because of parent company). Maybe you have some strange sense of integrity and you don’t want ads all over your blog. Then maybe it’s time to try merchandising. Many blogs have done it. Webcomics do it. You may have to spend years on the internet grind, but if you can merch yourself, you have truly made it and do not need my advice anymore.

I’m so proud of you. They grow up so fast.

SEO – Time to get technical

May 14, 2009

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the technical side of getting blog traffic. These days, you can get a job just doing SEO, so even knowing a little about it will make you more valuable as a journalist for your paper.

In simple terms, SEO is the practice of actively doing things to your blog to make it more easily searchable. Your tags, backlinking and header all help contribute to that, but there are a few other things you can do as well.

Use keywords throughout your blog. Focus your topics. As Google (and other search engines) read your site, the more they see certain words, the more they assume that is what your blog is about. Your Baltimore Orioles beat blog? Keep talking about the O’s, the players, the stadium and Google will start listing you higher and higher in search results for that. Talk about scattered random things and Google won’t know who you are.

Why Google? Google owns the market on search engines right now. You want to be important? Make Google’s job finding you as easy as possible.

Who you are associated with can also help or harm your SEO. Having similar blogs on your blogroll and trading links with other respectable people will help your SEO. Link and backlink to spammers and Google will penalize you. She’s such a cruel mistress.

Let’s get some traffic

May 14, 2009

Many of the things I’ve already suggested will help you get traffic to your blog. And I’m really not making that stuff up.

It’s the synergy of the previous tips (leaving comments, getting onto social media sites) with some other easy tips that will get people coming to your site.

Do everything for Google. We’ll get into that in more detail later on, but there are a few more simple things you can do to make sure search engines will find you. Create a Google account and make sure your site is registered. Your blog is brand new, Google doesn’t know it exists yet. Tell it early. Have a simple and unique name that is easy to search (the complete opposite of the name of this blog). Tag your posts, and put them in categories.  But Nick, I don’t see you doing that. Oh but I did.

You can also backlink. Those comments that you leave with your blog’s link at the end? Those are backlinks. Any time someone on any website links to you, Google counts that as a vote for your website. The more votes you get, the higher your place is in Google’s search, the easier you are to find. Simple, easy and infinitely useful.

Just like before, here are some more useful lists.

Time to harness the power of social media

May 14, 2009

Now that we’re rolling along with the blog, it’s time for a little shameless self promotion. Okay, not shameless, but there are ways you can use social media websites to bring more traffic to your site.

Give them all a try. You never know which social media site is going to be the one that your audience is on, and more then likely, different people are on different ones. Your best bet is the big three, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Now, get some friends and use their announcement tools to let people know what you’re talking about over on your blog. In case social media is totally alien to you, here are some rules of etiquette.

If you’re a journalist and not on Twitter, shame on you.

Besides those, your blog itself is a form of social media. Your comments section will allow people to communicate about your topic and other relevant things. Don’t be afraid to jump into the conversation. And don’t be afraid to comment other blogs. Be constructive, intelligent and relevant and provide a link of your blog at the end of your comment.

Awesome, now you’re networking.

Content that grabs readers

May 14, 2009

Alright. So, you’ve decided you want to blog. You now know what you want to write about. But there are certain ways to format your posts to ensure that people will be willing to read it.

First thing – keep is short. If you’re article is long, a lot of people just aren’t going to spend the time to read it all. True story. The smaller the scroll bar, the less someone is going to be willing to make it through the whole article. Try to keep your paragraphs short as well. People just don’t respond well to big blocks of text.

Link as much as you can. Try to always provide links if they are relevant. If you are referencing another person, or a specific work, link to it. Linking will build you credibility, readers know that you did your research because the proof is there. It can also bring you more readers. You link to someone? Send them a comment letting them know, they might link back to you.

Do anything possible to break up your text. Headings, sub-headings, pictures, lists, graphs, whatever you can use. The more you break it up, the easier it looks to read, AND the more interesting it looks.

Don’t be afraid to use what you learned in J school either. Inverted pyramid style with some brevity will be your two friends.

Here are two other useful lists on post writing, make sure you check them out.

What are the secrets of great blogs?

May 14, 2009

They’re writing about something someone wants to read. But more specifically, they’re writing about something that other people are going to be passionate about. What is great about the technology powering blogs is that those people, and their passion, are all easily connected.  But what are they connect by?

Your blog. And because of that, you are now the leader of a tribe. People will come to you everyday to see what you have to say. They will post comments and interact with each other under your articles. You will interact with them. Congratulations, you have now participated in the new phase of journalism.

As a journalist, your beat is your idea. You already have what people want to read. For example, you may work in Baltimore and cover the Orioles beat for any of the local newspapers. There is your blog. Put as much up as you can: any interaction with players, notes from games, inside information, opini0ns and a healthy amount of links back to your employer.

Everyone, especially you, will be happy.

Who blogs and why?

May 14, 2009

Why, everyone blogs. Not literally everyone, but everyone can. Each person has ability to go out and start a blog and get a million readers and maybe make $100 along the way, if they’re lucky. Literally anyone can blog and create a beat. From stay at home moms, to knitters, music enthusiasts and even journalists.

But why is this so important for journalists? In our dwindling industry, where less and less of us are getting hired, it’s important to have as many skills as you can. Ever heard of Arianna Huffington? Maybe you should. She’s doing okay for herself I heard.

But knowing how to blog will help you to better interact with readers and will give you the opportunity to brand yourself. That might just be the fine line that prevents you from getting laid off as all your coworkers are. It’s time to start a blog and join the conversation.