If you’re just starting out in the blogging world, it can be a daunting task. You’re reading bloggers who talk about getting to 200 followers like it’s no big deal and you’re trying to find your way amongst them and maybe, hopefully get noticed. If you’re not quite sure what you’re doing, or what you should be signing up for, I can help.
1 – Email Address.
First things first, sign up and get a dedicated email address for your blog and then display it openly. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is when I want to contact someone and I can’t find an email address for them. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but something easily typed and remembered is good. Try Gmail for a good free email – it’s less likely to be hacked than hotmail or Yahoo email addresses. Of course, if you’re using Blogger, you already have a blog email address. Just remember to put it where readers can find it. And don’t set it out like yourblogname[at]gmail.com – it’s annoying. Spam is a fact of life and most email programs will filter it. If I’m emailing you, I want to be able to copy/paste the email address.
2 – Google.
Did you know you can submit your website to Google for indexing? You can and you should. Submit your blog URL here.
3 – Technorati and Alexa
Technorati used to hold a lot of weight with their “authority” rankings. These days, people are paying a bit less attention to it, but that is no reason to not claim your blog with them. Alexa holds more weight, with it’s Alexa rankings and some companies will want your Alexa rank before advertising with you. You can claim your blog by heading to Alexa and searching for your URL in their search bar and then following the ‘Is this your blog?’ links.
Technorati and Alexa rank are still used commonly to work out a blog’s “worth” or “influence”. It’s one of those things that might not be a huge priority, but you should definitely do it anyway.
The best and simplest way to count subscribers via RSS (not all readers will subscribe via the “follow” feature), Feedburner provides a clean and hassle free feed for RSS aggregators to pick up. It really is the best way to run a feed.
5 – Stat tracking.
It’s important to be able to track your stats and visitor numbers, if you’re the kind of person like me, who is a bit obsessive about numbers. Some bloggers don’t use any stat counter programs and that is fine too, but I’ve found mine is invaluable to me. Day to day traffic can vary widely, so I use mine to check for long term growth and referring websites. Referring websites is the most important part for me, because I like to know who is linking to me and where my traffic is coming from. I use Statcounter and love it. Sitemeter is also okay, but you get less information from it.
6 – Google Reader, or similar subscription service.
There seems to be a bit of a push away from standard RSS subscribers lately, but I am a fan of Google Reader and you would have to come up with some pretty convincing arguments for me to stop using it (arguments that might work: It’s actually a zombie and will eat your face; it’s planning on taking over your brain; etc etc). I need something to go PING to tell me when my favourite blogs have updated and while Google is still working on it’s PING sound, it does let me know when to check out a site.
I know, Facebook is evil and it’s stealing all our information and yada yada. 21% of my traffic comes from Facebook and so therefore, it is a very useful tool. I don’t use it to poke my friends and I figure if my family isn’t calling me up, they’re probably okay. For blog growth however, it’s exactly what I need. Set yourself up a Fan page (even if you feel like an idiot having a fan page for 3 people) and promote it on your sidebar with a widget.
If you start with a facebook fan page early, it will grow with your blog, rather than having to set one up later on down the track. I love the widget in the sidebar, because it allows people to “like” my page, without leaving my site. Likes have gone up drastically since I added it.
I can hear you, ‘But I don’t GET it’ you’re saying. Like Facebook, Twitter is an amazing tool for sending blog traffic. 20% of my referring traffic comes from twitter, making it the second biggest referrer.
Find people who interest you. Follow them. Talk to them. Use the @ symbol before their name to “mention” them, so that they see it. Do a search for the topics that interest you and follow the people talking about them. Tweet interesting stuff and share information. The better your tweets are, the more likely people will be to click a link that you’ve posted and that includes links to your own blog. Twitter is like a global chat room and you can find so many amazing people there.
So that’s it.
8 things you should be signing up for when you’re just starting out.