To blog or not to blog?
Last week I decided not to write my weekly blog. It was a busy week and I just didn’t have the time. Expecting emails from concerned subscribers would have been too much to ask of readers. (You’re busy, too.) But even if my subscribers didn’t feel the loss, my blog was missed.
Taking my site’s temperature via Google Analytics shows a patient who flatlined last week. Without my blog infusion there was no spike in traffic and the number of weekly visits overall dropped by half. I suppose I shouldn’t have been stunned by the obvious – hey, traffic is dependent on fresh content! – but an almost 50% drop in visits is a lot. I also noted another trend, which is that traffic overall has grown nicely in the last six months.
The exercise gave me a chance to conclude two things: Blogging is worth the time for my small business because it’s an efficient way to draw attention to it. Plus, much as I’d like to credit the blog itself for the growth in traffic the truth is I’m getting better at picking where to post it.
What’s a good blog?
Almost every story you read about what makes a blog good mentions the importance of establishing a point of view, making sure you have something to say, using lots of pictures, and keeping it short. But the fact is that even my mother won’t visit my site to read my blog – hardly anyone does that anymore. As the hero publishing model fades into the sunset, along with book advances and newsstand sales, the key to finding success as a blogger is to post where the people are.
Not long ago publishing partnerships depended on business development teams and revenue arrangements. Now everyone has access to content distributors, which can start with single blogs, build to blog networks, and top out with Facebook, Google, and YouTube – the three biggest.
Post it or perish
Over the past several months I’ve tested a number of the most common content distributors. I started off big – too big; there was an early frantic period when I spent more time posting my blog than writing it, in part because I was crafting messages for individual Facebook brand pages (!). I got some new interest but certainly not enough to justify the time spent. Now I concentrate on tapping into the biggest distributors and mostly use the same teaser message. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Yeah! I get the most traffic from Facebook (my own page), LinkedIn, Reddit, Tumblr, Google Plus (improves search), and Networked Blogs. Through these I’ve gotten picked up and carried by Zite and a number of food-related web sites and blogs.
Is it me? Yes, it is me. I’ve been dutifully posting every week on Pinterest and tweeting once or twice a day. In other words, I’m doing the bare minimum and it shows in the mere trickle of visitors from these sources. Most experts recommend tweeting at least four to eight times a day and cultivating Pinterest boards daily. In order to see any real activity on either of these platforms I’ll have to commit to putting in more time on both.
Losers. So long, Delicious, Digg, and Stumble Upon! As of this week I’m no longer bothering with any of you. Again, if I spent more time engaging with other super users on each of these platforms it’s possible I’d create a stir. But at the moment almost no traffic has resulted from regularly posting my blog on these, so I’m putting my limited energy elsewhere.
The best content distributor
Finally, the best way to get your blog out there is to make it compelling enough that people want to subscribe to it and share it. Never Seconds, which was passed along to me earlier this week by a friend, is one such blog. Created a couple of months ago by a 9-year-old Scottish girl who decided she’d had it with her school lunches, it has received almost two million visitors to date.
In April she started posting pictures of her pale sandwiches and occasional vegetables for her family (one of the lunches that launched 2M views is featured above) and it took off. In no time she started receiving photos of school lunches from hundreds of kids around the world. (Japan is looking good; the US, not so much.) She also received the attention of school officials who declared just a couple of weeks ago that the kids can now have unlimited salad, fruit, and bread at lunchtime. Hooray.
So going viral isn’t a bad strategy for attracting attention through your blog – if only!
-Clare Ellis, Media Chief, Good Food Media Group