|Line of Women In Pink by K Whiteford|
If you are writing a personal diary and you don’t care if it is shared with anything, or if you are producing a family blog and only your relatives are the ones allowed access to your blog – then you are right, networking is not something you have to do.
If you want your voice to be heard, if you want to market something you are selling (Etsy, Avon, etc.), if you plan to monetize and make a business out of your blog – then you MUST network. Depending on your key words in your posts to boost your search engine rankings will leave you disappointed. There is something called ‘back links’ that is weighted far more heavily than key word density in each of your posts. Besides the added benefit of developing great relationships with other bloggers, you will more than likely start developing back links just by creating a community with in your own blog. If you write relevant, well thought out articles and you have developed relationships then other bloggers will want to link to you and reference your work. Look at my blog for example, even if you take away the link/button swapping I do you will also find that I reference other blogs in my posts as well as my pages. I value this information, and I think you will too as my reader. By networking, and developing loyal followers, you will begin seeing where this is also happening to you.
So I have convinced you to network, but you don’t know where to start? Here are a few things you can do and places you can visit; and if you know of more ideas – please leave them in my comments – I love learning new things!
Visit Other BlogsNot just random blog, you are more likely to develop a follower if you visit a blog that is of a similar topic to yours. Do a search in Google (or Bing, what ever you prefer) with your key words and ‘blog’ and you should find a list of similar blogs to peruse and enjoy. For example, if I were looking for similar blogs I would search for: parenting blog or blogging tips, etc. Once you find a blog you relate to, be sure to leave a comment and include a link back to your blog. Perhaps they have a post similar to an article you published, leave a relevant comment and let them know about your post. What do I mean by relevant? I mean offer a well thought out opinion, compliment them on their writing, etc. Just like off line – people aren't that likely to visit if you go on and on about how much better you are, etc. Just because you are on line doesn't mean you can check common courtesies at the door.
Blog Hops, Link Ups or Link PartiesThis is a powerful way to create a following quickly. To explain what this is: This is where one or more blogs post up an ‘add your own link’ script to their blog, usually lasting for a set amount of time (1 day, the weekend, one month, etc.) with a set amount of rules. Since you are trading on the traffic the hosting blog has already developed and honed, then you generally are required to ‘follow’ them and co-hosts. Sometimes there are sponsors you will need to visit and follow. In return it is also reasonable for you to expect those same hosts, co-hosts and sponsors to also follow you back, kind of an ‘I will scratch your back if you scratch mine’ deal. Some of the parties also require that you visit other bloggers (around 3) that are on the list as well – to keep up the networking aspect of these link parties. Now, as you may have guessed, a blog hop is expecting you to do all of this on the honor system; however, if you do not follow people back or visit other people and are just adding your link to get one of those ‘back links’ I mentioned earlier – it will become obvious. Just as I mentioned before – just because we are online doesn’t mean it is ok to check your manners at the proverbial door. You can find some of these link parties right here on my blog. Several other bloggers also maintain a list, keep an eye out as you network through other blogs.
Groups and CommunitiesIf you have a Facebook and/or Google Plus profile, then you also have access to the groups within that network. Do a search for 'bloggers' or 'blogging' and you will find several groups in which you can network with other bloggers. To find a community separate from these social networks, do a search for 'blogging communities' in your favorite search engine and you will find where a blogger has listed a bunch for you, or the actual communities themselves. You can also visit my 'Memberships' page to see what communities I am a part of and if they will fit you and your blog.
It is important you understand that you will need to participate in these communities or groups beyond just posting links to your blog posts. If you do only that you will be relegated as a spammer, which will have a negative impact on your networking efforts. Take part in the community, answer people's questions, give comments about other posts, etc. Participate and you will find the traffic flowing to your blog.
So by now you know it is vitally important to network if you want to get what you are saying 'out there' and read by others. If you are serious about developing a readership base quickly, I would suggest spending at minimum 8 hours a week networking other blogs. I personally spend 12-16 hours each week networking, more if I am not paying attention, because my blog is new. If you do not have the time to do that, try to spend at least an hour each week day networking, and you will start to see results quickly.
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