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April 20, 2006

The 120 Day Wonder: How to Evangelize a Blog

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I know a fair amount about evangelism and a little bit about blogging, so I've combined the two in order to provide some insights into the evangelism of a blog. Granted, I've only been at blogging for 120 days or so, but marketing is marketing, right?

1. Think “book” not “diary.” First, a bit of philosophy: my suggestion is that you think of your blog as a "product." A good analogy is the difference between a diary and a book. When you write a diary, it contains your spontaneous thoughts and feelings. You have no plans for others to read it. By contrast, if you write a book, from day one you should be thinking about spreading the word about it. If you want to evangelize your blog, then think “book” not “diary” and market the heck out of it.

2. Answer the little man. Now that you're thinking of your blog as a product, ask yourself if it's a good product. A useful test is to imagine that there's a little man sitting on your shoulder reading what you're writing. Every time you write an entry, he says, “So what? Who gives a shiitake?” If you can't answer the little man, then you don't have a good blog/product. Take it from someone who's tried: It's tough to market crap, so make sure you have something worth saying. Or, write a diary and keep it to yourself.

3. Collect email addresses. The first piece of advice that I give authors who want to evangelize their book is to accumulate email addresses. (The second piece of advice is to start blogging before the book comes out.) When I launched The Art of the Start, I sent out email to 95,000 people who had made contact with Garage in the past nine years by attending our conferences, submitting business plans, ... whatever. Also a team of student interns compiled a database of every entrepreneurial organization on the planet for me.

When I started this blog, I sent out 10,000 email announcements. (I didn't use the entire Garage database because I thought that was too tacky even for me.) You may not have the ability to collect email on this scale but collect them nonetheless. For example, when a bozo includes you on a large carbon-copy email, mine the addresses. However, don't buy address lists or spam people (I define "spam" as sending email to someone who has never sent me one) because for email promotion to work, you must know the recipient--or be known by the recipient.

Two more email related recommendations. First, when you answer an email, stick in a “by the way” that mentions your blog. (The only email responses that I send that don't make reference to my blog are the ones that are responses to an email about my blog.) Second, your email signature should contain your blog address.

4. Collect links for blog rolling. This is something I wish I had done on day one, but I was totally ignorant of this linking thing. If I had to do it over again, I would look for all the interesting blogs that cover similar topics to my blog. Then, on day one I would have blog rolled them all and ensured that  Technorati pinged my blog, so that the bloggers  might find out that I existed. I use Blogrolling.com to create my current blog roll.

Now that I understand how linking works, I use NetNewsWire and Endo to look for new links to my blog, and I find sites that I would have never seen were it not for their links to my site. Basically, you want bloggers to find out about you because you linked to them. You never know what they might do for you.

5. Scoop stuff. There's a very interesting honor system in blogging. Suppose Blogger A finds an obscure article and posts it to his blog. Blogger B reads about it on Blogger A's blog and links to it. However Blogger B doesn't link only to the article; she also links to Blogger A to give him credit for finding the article.

This means that if you hustle and scoop stuff, other bloggers will link to you. For example, when I found and publicized the Stanford Social Innovation Review article by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton, many other bloggers linked to my blog, not just the article itself. I was surprised by this. Bottom line: if you want lots of people to link to you, read voraciously and find cool stuff first. As a Japanese philosopher once said, "Eat like a bird, and poop like an elephant."

6. Supplement other bloggers with a followup entries. Read the blogs of the top fifty or so bloggers (using Technorati's ranking is fine) and see if you have in-depth knowledge about their topics. Then instead of leaving the typical, dumb shiitake comment (“I think you're an orifice who shouldn't make money recommending products that you've invested in.”), craft a real essay that complements the blogger's entry.

When someone does this for my entries, I want to get down on my knees and thank God because it's less stuff that I have to write. Look at this example that was a followup for my entry about recruiting. I don't know about other bloggers, but one of the biggest challenges I face is feeding the content beast. If you can help me feed it, I'll gladly link to you and give you publicity.

7. Acknowledge and respond to commenters. Only good things can happen when you read all the comments in your blog and respond to them. It makes commenters return to your blog. This, in turn, makes commenters feel like they are part of your blog's community which makes them tell more people to read your blog.

(I'd like to do this better, but I've created a monster. I don't have any quantitative evidence, but it sure seems like a I get large volume of comments to my entries. There are days that I simply can't keep up, so forgive me.)

8. Ask for help. If you are providing value in your blog, don't hesitate to ask for your readers to help. If you don't ask, you don't get. You don't have to be as blatant as I am in the desire to climb Technorati's ranking, but in a perfect world, you provide something in your blog and your readership will want to reciprocate by helping you spread the word.

9. Be bold. I'm not saying you should intentionally piss other bloggers off, but if you can't speak your mind on your own blog, we might as well all give up and stay on the porch. This is a fascinating thing about blogging: Even when people torch you, they link to your site. I would have thought that you don't link. My logic was: Why give someone you torched any exposure?

10. Make it easy to join up. A blogger named Steve Nipper showed me the list about this. I had no idea what Feedburner and FeedBlitz did until he  told me about them. The bottom line is that you should enable your readers to get to your blog in multiple ways. It's no different than distributing physical products through multiple channels. 

May you use this knowledge to rise in Technorati and make the A List. Just say hello as you pass me by--someday I'll be sucking up to you.  :-)

PS:

Here are some other resources that I found:

1. From reading Christian Blog Evangelism:

2. From readers:

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Comments

Hi Guy. I'm struggling to grow readership on one of my blogs. This was a great find. I'm sure I'll be able to implement some of this.

Thanks,

Jason

Guy,

Thanks for this entry. I've ignored some of the basic components of building readership, just concentrating on what I thought was interesting content. I haven't understood a lot of what you've gone through on your post, but I'm learning quickly.
Steve

I've read a lot of "how to improve" your blog articles, and this one rises to the top. Have a glass of creative juice on me -- www.pushingenvelope.com

Hey Guy, I started blogging only recently and I must say I found some real gold nuggets in your post, thanks! I will be sure to implement them as soon as possible. The main lesson for me was connecting with other bloggers, I kind of already knew this but you put it in a different light for me ;)

All the best & God Bless,
Jason

Since I recently published my second book, "45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy...and How to Avoid Them," I have now stood on both sides of the fence, so to speak.
As a syndicated workplace columnist for 15 years, I get stories pitched to me all the time. So, now that I am now hustling to sell my own book, I see what p.r. and marketing people are up against all day.
With that in mind, I think I can offer some insight that will be helpful for anyone trying to get their foot in the door with a journalist.
Some tips:
1. Do your homework. Find out what the reporter has covered in the past. Don't pitch your book when they just covered something similar within the last few months. Always look for that fresh angle. Also, make sure you're pitching them the right stuff...I don't cover customer service and never have. I don't like you adding to the crap in my e-mail if I can't even use it. You get on my spam list.
2. Keep evolving. Years ago, I did stories on how to behave at the company holiday party. Now, everyone is pitching that story, and I have no interest in doing what everyone else does. Don't pitch the same idea over and over to every reporter. We get really cranky when someone else has our story. We're born and bred to be competitive, and we don't like to get beat.
3. We like news pegs. We can usually sell an idea to our editor if you can legitimately tie it to something happening right now or an event coming up. This is especially helpful for local newspaper or television reporters who would appreciate someone to interview for the turnip festival if you've just written a book on the fine art of raising turnips. Remember that magazines often work three to six months in advance...pitch early if you want to get on the radar.
4. We're always on deadline. When you call us, ask "am I catching you at a bad time?" If you're not, then make your pitch in a concise way. Give us the nugget that we can take to our editors. Usually the best times to catch us are first thing in the morning, usually before lunchtime. After that, we're hustling our butts and don't have time.
5. Make the personal connection. Note how you enjoyed a recent story the reporter did, and it got you to thinking how your idea would fit very nicely as a follow-up.
6. Offer information. Even if the reporter can't use you right away, continue to offer valuable facts they might be able to use. Don't overdo it...journalists are always overloaded with information. Make sure it applies directly to their work. The point is that you want to be seen as a legitimate source so that when the time comes, they've got you in their address book.

Hi guy..its a great piece..i ve been reading your for long...tis is a great piece for everyone whos started blogging

its an eyeopener for begginers..thanks for putting up such a great piece.. Guy
Dr. Vikas sharma

Great list, Guy. But I must say...people like reading other people's diaries. :)

Great post on blog. It confirms that blogging is a job, but the potential reward/return is great.

Thanks Guy! You have provided a wealth of valuable information for all bloggers, seasoned and beginners. It is very good advice to think of your blog as a product and as something that others are reading and enjoying!

i have stayed away from blogging, but all the info here is enough to help me take the plunge now :)

Guy,
This atricle is great. I have learnt a lot from it. I will start to implement them.
I have bookmark this blog for reference.

Guy, another blog tip under how to get your blog talked about is to blog about only the bad or the good in your industry or hobby but never both.

For example here only who got the latest bad publicity is talked about:

http://www.squidoo.com/badpublicity/

This method could be applied to any type of content.

Are You Blowing Cash on Over-Priced Ebooks?

Have you downloaded any of those over-price ebooks recently? It seems like everybody and his brother is writing those fluff filled 200 page monster-sized ebooks and peddling them for nearly a hundred dollars.

The vast majority of these bloated ebooks would be less than a dozen pages if you removed all the useless fluff!

Recently, I purchased a much advertised AdSense ebook about how to make thousands of dollars every month from Google AdSense. After reading nearly 200 pages, all he said is to make the AdSense ads look like they're part of your website instead of looking like ads.

These types of ebooks are fluffed-up in order to justify the high price. If this ebook was cleaned of all the unrequired garbage, it would shrink to less than one tenth its current size, but that wouldn't sell.

A new wave of ebooks has recently emerged - short ebooks that have just what you need and nothing else just for filler. No fluff, no filler - just the info you're looking for without wading thru page after page of junk. Cost effective ebooks that inform you, teach you AND they won't put a dent in your bank account.

How cheap is cheap? How about 7 bucks?

Take a look at this Huge Selection of $7 Ebooks

Thanks for your tips, blogs are becoming a massive entity on the web.

Hi there.

First time I came across your name was in the www.tickle.com. I took the test to see how entrepreneurial I am.

Your blog is very informative. Being new, your blog helps to see more what I can do to mine.

dee.

Thank you, Guy, for this very helpful blog entry. That's so nice of you to take the time to rattle off a Top 10 Letterman-esque list on how to evangelize your blog. (Or should we call it blogevangize? LOL!)

I love this "Answer the little man" suggestion! Quite entertaining. Though I think I'm going to opt for a little woman instead! (My audience tends to attract a few more women than men though both sexes read my blog.)

For that matter, I also love the "Scoop stuff" idea, too. Ah heck, all 10 of your ideas are fabulous -- I just printed out your entry and I'm going to hang onto this to remind myself to do all this!

By the way, I have one other good resource for you: Any Wibbels. He's the author of BlogWild, and I consider myself lucky that before he got super-super busy, he helped set up my SUGAR SHOCK! Blog. When educating me about blogging, he also suggested some of the ideas you mention here. You can learn more about him at http://goblogwild.com/ and http://www.andywibbels.com/

Thanks again so much for your helpful item!


Thanks for the blog roll comment - wish I knew about that one too.

I enjoyed this article and will investigate the additional links and resources you included.

My uncle used to say that you can associate with with greatest minds in the world via books...and now that applies to the internet and blogs, as well. I am happy to associate with you and others on your blog and learn from you all. Your blog has great content...and it also has a very nice postive energy which is uplifting!

Thanks!

Wow - terrific post indeed. Makes me wonder one can actually scale up one's Blog's TRPs upon following the suggested advice. Let me experiment them for a while

This one is really helpful. Especially the email fact. For me its difficult to put effort on my blog because of work and no computer at home, no notebook, nothing. At workplace whenever I found time I start thinking about my blog and do spiffy things.

I am using a blogroll item, atom feeds etc. Never tried email concept. I have a link to my blog in my signatures, though. I think its worthy to give it try.

The Bible says in Psalm 19, verse 7, “The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.” What is it that the Bible says is perfect and actually converts the soul? Scripture makes it very clear: “The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.”
Now to illustrate the function of God’s law, let’s just look for a moment at civil law. Imagine if I said to you, “I’ve got some good news for you: someone has just paid a $25,000 speeding fine on your behalf.” You’d probably react by saying, “What are you talking about? That’s not good news: it doesn’t make sense. I don’t have a $25,000 speeding fine.” My good news wouldn’t be good news to you: it would seem foolishness. But more than that, it would be offensive to you, because I’m insinuating you’ve broken the law when you don’t think you have.
However, if I put it this way, it may make more sense:
“On the way to this meeting, the law clocked you at going 55 miles an hour through an area set aside for a blind children’s convention. There were ten clear warning signs stating that fifteen miles an hour was the maximum speed, but you went straight through at 55 miles an hour. What you did was extremely dangerous; there’s a $25,000 fine. The law was about to take its course, when someone you don’t even know stepped in and paid the fine for you. You are very fortunate.” Can you see that telling you precisely what you’ve done wrong first actually makes the good news make sense. If I don’t clearly bring instruction and understanding that you’ve violated the law, then the good news will seem foolishness; it will seem offensive. But once you understand that you’ve broken the law, then that good news will become good news indeed.
Now in the same way, if I approach an impenitent sinner and say, “Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins,” it will be foolishness and offensive to him. Foolishness because it won’t make sense. The Bible says that: “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness” (1Cor. 1:18). And offensive because I’m insinuating he’s a sinner when he doesn’t think he is. As far as he’s concerned, there are a lot of people far worse than him. But if I take the time to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, it may make more sense. If I take the time to open up the divine law, the ten commandments, and show the sinner precisely what he’s done wrong, that he has offended God by violating His law, then when he becomes, as James says, “convinced of the law as a transgressor” (Jam. 2:9), the good news of the fine being paid for will not be foolishness, it will not be offensive, it will be “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).

Ray Comfort
"Hell's Best Kept Secret"
www.livingwaters.com
Learn how to effectively share your faith - the way Jesus did.
The way the Bible teaches.

You should consider adding a link directly to your RSS feed, not the feedburner etc. Some of us use software like Mozzila Thunderbird to read feeds and I had to look at the source code to add you.

thanks for the tips. if i made this at the beginning all the things were much easier

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