Thursday, January 24, 2013

Auditing my blog - five tips from Blogging Heroes for improvement

So, having surveyed my blog to date, what does Blogging Heroes recommend me try to increase my readership?

1. Share your experience, expertise and insight in your line of work

I have to confess, I've held back a little from this, if only because Friends of the Earth has sufficient official channels for communication that I didn't want to muddy the waters. But ... it's the advice from Chris Anderson in Blogging Heroes that's stuck with me here. 

Chris Anderson (by James Duncan Davidson from Portland, USA)

Despite serving as the Editor in Chief of Wired while writing The Long Tail, he maintained a separate blog for a variety of good reasons. Not least of which that it allowed him to express his own thoughts and ideas independently as opposed to doing so entirely via the collective platform of the magazine. 

Also important: the majority of things that I'd want to write about in relation to my work wouldn't necessarily be covered through official channels - the joys of playing around with social media, the art of grassroots organisation, despatches from the frontline of environmental and social justice campaigning around the Midlands. 

This is something that I'm relatively uniquely positioned to comment on, as opposed to, say, the joys of the Hobbit, which I enjoy doing but make me only one voice among many. This can be the USP of the blog.

Finally, there's the argument that everyone working for an organisation should be blogging about their work anyway if they feel the calling - if it works for Microsoft as a form of advocacy, then why shouldn't I?

So, I'm still going to post about films, books and anything else that interests me, but stuff I encounter through work is going to be woven in there too. Above all else, I'll follow my passions.

2. Go to other blogs and sources, engage in discussion with them, link to them. Specifically, I'm going to:
  • Do Follow Friday on Twitter
  • Review and recommend some of my favourite blogs (once a month, say)
  • Set-up a blog reading list on my dashboard (I read a lot of blogs but I don't do this)
  • Add a blogroll of links to the side of my blog.
This might all seem fairly self-evident, but a confession: I've never been that great at the whole mutual promotion thing. This is not the post for putting myself on the couch, so I'll acknowledge that I could get a whole lot better at this and move on.

3. Write lots of posts in one go and schedule them over a period of several weeks. 

I'm doing this now - the weekend of the 20 and 21st of Jan, we are, if not quite snowbound, more or less stuck in the house unless we want to get snowed on. What else is there to do, now that we've watched the Lion King, save to write, cook and eat?

Some of these posts - like the Storification of HMV's bankruptcy or my report from the Birmingham anti-cuts meeting - have quite a short currency. Others, like my investigation of Cliff-step, the new musical movement which is sweeping the nation, could be dropped in any time or bumped forward if inspiration strikes in the interim,

But this means that I'll - hopefully - have a treasury of posts built up for leaner times. Daily posting is something to aspire to, even if you don't manage it consistently.

4. Get feedback!

Asking people for ideas, thoughts and drollery is something Blogging Heroes' interviewees recommend pretty consistently.And the most successful sequence of posts I've ever run with were the ones for the Butcher Babies caption competition

So, remembering that asking people a question rounds off a post nicely, but also could be a post in its own right could be a really good idea.

5.Tweeting smart and other self-promotion

A good friend (Hi @onlystephan) reported that the best response he ever got for one of his blog posts was because he proactively @tted the corporate subject of his post in a tweet. I haven't really gone out of my way to do targetted promotion like this, but if done judiciously I think I might be quite a good strategy to try. 

So, there you have my five point strategy for ramping up my blog this year - wish me luck!

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