For my next series I wanted to expand upon the idea of blogging on social networking websites, specifically MySpace. This is something that is near and dear to my heart because I started blogging originally on MySpace, I built up one of the most read humor blogs on the site that at it’s height had over 5,000 subscribers and millions of page views in a year. It was a spring board that allowed me to do other things, including getting paid to blog, consulting on social networking, and launching my own social media company. I don’t think if I started out on blogger.com or built my own page somewhere, that I would have built an audience as quickly as I did.
In that time I examined every technique and trick in the world, since I no longer blog on there, I have decided to share everything I know about building an audience. If you are a business blogger, a comedy writer, a relationship guru, or anyone that writes, these are general tips and tricks that can help you build an audience.
The first thing we need to cover is the general rules behind blogging. I am not going to go in depth about the concepts behind blogging because there are entire blogs about the techniques but I do feel that we need to cover the basics, or the three c’s.
1) Content- Content is king, if your content isn’t good or doesn’t have any value then all these techniques I am about to share are worthless. You need to give a reason for people to come back, no matter what type of blog you write. Before you start trying to build a reader base take a few weeks to build up at least ten blogs, so you have a catalog that people can read and see what you are about.
Also decide on your focus, one of the things that I have learned is that shifting away from what you do stabs you in the foot. For example, if you write a political blog don’t all of a sudden try to give dating and sex advice. People try and justify this with saying “it is my blog I can do what I want”, that is an understandable stance. If you feel that way stop worrying about your numbers or trying to build an audience. When you make the decision that you want to build a large reader base it is no longer some online diary where you can spew about anything you want, you are attempting to write for an audience, which you need to keep in mind.
2) Consistency- Pick a posting schedule and stick with it. This is one of the things that I see people fail on regularly on, they don’t have any posting consistency. While this applies to blogging in general, it really matters on MySpace. If you are going to write five days a week, write five days a week, try not to deviate from that. If you are only going to post 2-3 times a week, stick to the days that you usually post unless it is some important breaking news. You are giving people a pattern to expect, eventually they know when to look for your posts. Think of it as knowing when your favorite TV program is on, you come to expect it and almost plan around it.
As you grow you also need to keep this in mind, some people get really excited by the attention they receive and start to over do it. Seeing the hits and the comments come in can be an exhilarating, but don’t let the numbers screw with your head and over post. This is a good way to over expose yourself and to burn yourself out, plus your content can quickly become watered down.
Another issue is long breaks, I would tell you to pre-write posts when you feel inspired and sit on them for times when you aren’t inspired to write. Some people get burnt out on blogging and can’t fight through the grind of it. If you really want to build an audience you can’t all of a sudden decide to take a month off because you are tired of it. Many times people have quickly built an audience on MySpace, then took time off for whatever reason, killing their momentum and audience. Taking time off for an extended period and not posting content is the equivalent of taking ten steps back.
Something else you need to consider is the time at which you post the blog, the rule of thumb has been early morning because it allows you to get more hits and thus higher in the myspace blog ratings. With the rating system currently a mess it is hard to say if this is still correct but I would continue that practice until it changes and becomes cemented in some way.
3) Communication- This is simple, take the time to comment back to people that comment your blog and send you messages. It builds loyalty and shows that you appreciate the time they are taking out to read what you write. When you are starting out and building it is even more important to do this, people don’t want to feel unappreciated.
The three c’s should be at the back of your head every time you sit down in front of a computer screen and begin to interact with your blog and the audience you write for.
Up Next: Basics about your profile and blog design