Last week, I began a mini-series on increasing traffic to your blog. In that article, I focused on how to do so through your content. This week, let’s take another look at how we can increase your viewership through networking.
Networking is simply a term to describe gathering contacts. Some call it schmoozing, others simply refer to it as being social. In this post, we’ll go into the subtle forms of networking, which are akin to just being a good neighbor, through some more professional forms: to include advertising. Since this series is intended for people who are gamers first and bloggers second, we’re not going to delve too deeply into advertising. If you’re looking for a means of increasing your revenue stream, or otherwise turning this into a real business, this article might not be for you.
However, if you’re interested in getting a little more traffic to your blog, and otherwise improving the online 40k community as a whole, please read on.
Join Blogging Groups
Blogging groups are akin to pocket communities of bloggers, akin to the “web rings” of the 90’s. Like minded individuals can join these groups, and will typically display a banner on their site which links back to the main site. In return for displaying the banner, your RSS feed is prominently displayed on their homepage. Since these websites are traditionally very popular, your posts will get more visibility on them than it would otherwise.
In return for the traffic sent your way, posting of the logo (or banner) on your own site sends traffic in the reverse way. In that way, both parties are receiving benefit without need for additional cost (or really, effort).
Some of the more popular blogging groups can be found below (you can click the link to any of them for more information on joining their groups):
- From the Warp – Welcome to all 40k (And now WHFB) gamers alike. Simply submit a request to Ron and he’ll add you to the list. For new bloggers, this is clearly the best method of networking to generate traffic immediately.
- Bell of Lost Souls – BoLS requires you to be in operation for three months prior to being allowed to join their group. The up-side is they get a huge influx of traffic, as they’re certainly the most popular 40k blog in existence.
- House of Paincakes – Requires an essay of why you are God’s Gift to the Internet (which will be ignored). This site is a younger, more tongue-in-cheek collection of articles and blogs, and is only a month or two old, but has had instant success.
- Librarium Online – This blog network boasts over 1 million unique viewers per month. It’s also relatively new, so your links will stay visible for longer on their page.
- Heresy Online – An all purpose website that includes forums, news, and galleries. This is another relatively new blog network out there.
- My Battalion – On the right navigation bar, you’ll see a button labeled “Join the Blog Network” which is really just a email link. They’ll ask you to provide your blog’s address and RSS feed information. For a short cut, you can click this link, and it will do the same thing.
- The Parade Ground – Col. Corbane pioneered a group of Imperial Guard based blogs and maintains a list of them over at his site. This micro-community is close-knit, and great to behold.
Surely there are more groups/networks available, but this should get you started.
Comments are important both on your blog, and on others’ blogs. Firstly, if someone takes the time to respond to a post on your own blog, return the favor by replying to their comment. Even if you have nothing else to say other than “Thanks for dropping by!” Granted, it only took a moment for them to post a comment, but with the same minimal effort, you can turn a casual commenter into a life-long reader. Taking the time to acknolwedge effort will be rewarded.
Wondering how you can know when someone comments on your own blog? Well, most popular blogging software automatically sends you an email when you receive a comment. But, if you’re looking to save time in replying, I strongly urge you to install the DISQUS commenting system on your blog. It’s a simple to install plugin that allows you to moderate and reply to comments from within your email. No longer do you have to go to your blog to interact with your readers. Want to say thanks for comment someone left? All you have to do is reply to the email.
Also, you want to also pay it forward and comment on other people’s blogs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve commented on someone else’s blog and found the next day that I have a new follower of my own blog. People really do appreciate you making the effort to comment. Likewise, if you ask a question on another person’s blog and expect an answer, you need to check back. Alternately, you can use the option to “Subscribe to comments” on their blog (better yet, if they use DISQUS, you’re automatically subscribed!) This way, when they take the time to answer you, you can see their response–and again, thank them.
Have trouble keeping track of the blogs you like? If so, try adding them to your own blog roll, or perhaps enlist in a good RSS reader. Without going too much into detail on RSS and it’s functionality, I’d encourage you to check out N++’s post on Wargaming Tradecraft on that very issue.
And I’m not sure how I glossed over this, but thanks to Loquacious for pointing it out: Perhaps the most important part of encouraging people to come back to your blog is to respond to their comments. It only takes a second to say “thank you,” and it goes a long way to establishing loyalty.
Get Added to other Blog Rolls
If you show up on blog rolls for other sites, then more people are likely to see your posts. If more people see your posts, they’re more likely to click on them.. and that equates to more traffic. So, how do you get your blog to show up in other blog rolls?
Well, aside from joining blogging networks, you can inspire others to add you to their personal blog rolls. Most of the time I find a new blog, it isn’t from using one of the major networks out there. Instead, I go to a blog with an interesting sounding article, and then scan their blogrolls for other posts that pique my curiosity.
So again, how do you inspire people to add you to their blog rolls? Well, think about it. How do you determine which blogs to add to your own personal blog roll? Most of the time, it’s done because they have superior content (again, check my earlier post on generating traffic through improved content), but it also can be because they took the time to acknowledge your work–either through a comment, or sending you a link. These same behaviors can get you added to their blog rolls as well.
Barring that, you could just offer the other blogger to trade links…
Trading links used to be a very common practice on the internet–though it’s not something you hear about all that often. Just because you don’t hear about it doesn’t mean that it isn’t done though. What’s to stop people from civilly asking each other to trade links. In essence, that’s all the blogging networks are doing anyway. Why can’t you just ask another blogger to do so?
You might not want to because requesting to be added to a blogroll might seem petty or invasive. As some people view their blogroll as a personal top 10 list, it might behoove you to simply earn a way on to the spot via the other means discussed about in this series.
But that doesn’t mean link exchanges are completely dead. There are some sites out there that do just that. Examples include My Battallion‘s link exchange, if you’re looking for them, make sure that the sites you’re trading links with are relevant to your blog though! Likewise, Librarium Online still hosts a Banner Exchange page; of course, to participate in that, you’d have to have a banner…
Examples of how to create your own banner would be to use free online software (like MyBannerMaker), or hold a contest (like Dark Future Games did last month), or even use a service like Fiverr (a website devoted to purchase all sorts of things for only $5) to commission someone to make a cheap banner for your site.
Also, if you’re a frequent visitor to a forum, you might want to put a link to your site (or even your custom made banner) in your forum signature. Remember, the more people that see your link, the more likely they’re going to click on it.
So that concludes the networking section of this series. In summation, you want people to link to and comment on your blog. The best way to accomplish that is to have quality content, and to be a good neighbor. Keep in mind that the other members of the 40k blogging community are looking for the same things you are, so paying it forward is a great way to earn the respect of your fellow bloggers.
By the way, if you’re looking for more information on how to improve your blog from myself and other gamers, check out the following links:
- Wargaming Tradecraft from N++ has started a recurring topic called “Blog Fu” focusing on blogging tips
- Thor, from Creative Twilight has his ongoing section on blogging tips as well
- SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION ALERT: I also post all my blogging tips under the title “Website Administration” (which, now that I think of it, is a little misleading…)
My next (and last) post on this subject will go up next week, covering measurements and tracking of blog traffic. While following the instructions in it won’t directly impact your traffic, it will give you a better understanding of where your site is, and how to determine whether or not your efforts are paying off.
As always, thanks for dropping by.