So, you’re writing the most profound political entries, the wittiest movie reviews, and the smartest fashion commentary, all in one place. But nobody gives a crap. Why? Because they don’t know it exists!
Running a successful blog is as much about marketing yourself as it is about writing brilliant content. But at the same time, you have to avoid being that annoying, self-promoting choad everyone wants to punch out and nobody but other annoying, self-promoting choads friend. You have to make yourself an upstanding netizen. And that, dear friends, takes serious work.
1) If you don’t have Facebook and Twitter accounts, get them.
Really, if you want to promote yourself, these are useful tools. And you should have these already. Depending on your focus, you should also add at least one other social network. Filmmakers need to have a YouTube channel, musicians should have, as much as it kills us to utter that dreaded word, a MySpace, photographers need a Flickr, writers need to be on Digg, and so on.
PRO TIP: Don’t sign up for every social network in existence: make it Twitter, Facebook, and one or two other networks. Social networking as a promotional tool requires care and feeding. Don’t overcommit yourself.
2) Pick a handle and stick with it.
Take your humble author. His Twitter? Theta1138. His Facebook? Theta1138. His handle on Spike.com? Theta1138. If it’s Theta1138, it’s probably Dan Seitz. Unless it’s on that chubby-chaser site, in which case, that’s not Dan Seitz. That’s someone else, who is not Dan Seitz, not at all.
Your handle is your brand. Choose one that’s fairly simple yet distinct. If it’s at all possible to go in and change your handle to fit your brand, do it.
PRO TIP: See that image above? Tie your brand not just to a name, but to an image. If you see that above image tied to a Theta1138? That’s probably me. Make sure you have a same, similarly striking user picture.
#3) Link your accounts together in a clean chain.
It’s a fairly simple process to tie together all your social networking into one “chain”. For example, every time your “humble” author updates his blog on WordPress, it automatically updates his Twitter with the entry and a Bitly link. In turn, everything that’s not a reply to somebody else on his Twitter goes immediately to his Facebook.
So, with one update, it goes into three different places. The minute this article hits Uproxx’s sleek, stylish servers, he’ll put it up on Twitter and make sure it’s linked in Facebook.
PRO TIP: Clean up repeats in the chain. There’s nothing people hate more than getting spammed with a link, and shoving a link in their face more than once? That’s spam. Furthermore, you’re more likely to get traffic on one social networking site if the material looks distinct to it. Twitter has different features from Facebook, and you can exploit these features for maximum visibility and traffic.
#4) Friend and follow, but stick close to home at first.
The first thing you do is find your friends and coworkers. Next, find people you think are interesting. “Interesting” means you genuinely want to hear what they have to say. For example, on Twitter I’m following Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek), two of the leads on “Deadliest Warrior”, and a few tech nerds. Why? Because I want to know what they have to say.
PRO TIP: Don’t spam people you don’t know, even if they share interests with you. It’s tacky and it doesn’t work.
#5) Make sure it’s easy to know who you are.
Here’s something that drives anyone crazy on Twitter. You get followed by somebody, you seem to share the same interests…but there’s absolutely nothing on their page except a bunch of Bitly links and brief blurbs. Who knows what’s behind those links? Could be something awesome, could be that damn Britney porn video that never goes away. Either way, why should I click those links?
An empty profile is a failure of a profile. Even if it’s just a direct link to your blog and an “about me” page, that’ll make the difference between somebody people will follow back and somebody people will ignore.
PRO TIP: Always have a central “About Me” blog entry somewhere public. Keep it simple: who you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Include links to your work on it so people can figure out what you’re all about.
There’s nothing that loses people’s interest faster than being a lurker. Even if you just spend five minutes scanning your Facebook feed and clicking “like” in a few entries, it still keeps your account active. Update your Twitter at least once a day and reply to a few people. If you talk to people, they’re more likely to click on your links. And be sure to leave the self-promoting out of it: linking to your blog is attention-whorish, and unlikely to earn you friends.
PRO TIP: Don’t hesitate to click on other people’s links. Plenty of people are promoting their blogs, and the Internet is a lot smaller than you think. Literally 5% of the Internet is other people; the rest is spam, malware, and other garbage.
Trick other websites into thinking you’re a successful writer and use them to shamelessly promote yourself. Be nice to everybody
You never know when it’ll pay off!
If you follow these steps, you’ve got the foundation of a successful online promotional structure. Of course, now you have to make sure it’s interesting. But that’s another how-to.