If you have a second, head on over to Alissa’s blog Have Stroller Will Travel and read where I was on 9/11/01 and what I’ll do when I have to explain it to my kids one day.
Momcomm Monday is my weekly series to help you become a better writer, blogger and social media geek. If you missed last week’s post, catch up on How to Keep Up on My Favorite Blogs: An Experiment. Today I’ve got one of my favorite bloggers and fellow marketing mama, “Blair” from Heir to Blair. I met her at one of our local bloggy get togethers and she’s da bomb. For realz.
It’s always really awkward, this whole “guest blogging” thing. Because I kind of feel like that rude baby shower guest that walks in sans invitation in SWEATPANTS when everyone else is dripping Ann Taylor & mimosas. & then she sits down in the middle of the room without a gift & by the grace of who-knows-what, she wins one of the cheesey games the hostess forced us to play & then she’s like, “I don’t drink coffee” when she realizes that the prize is a Starbucks gift card.
OH, WAIT. That actually happened at my baby shower.
But I hope y’all won’t feel like that when I’m done. Because I may lack social graces & basically invited myself to MomComm Mondays, but I think I’ll be able to put together a few sentences that will fit in to the theme. You know, once I’m through talking about my husband’s great aunt, the shower-crasher.
I’m done now. I promise.
& I’m going to start talking about monetizing your blog. It’s kind of a delicate situation because the first question is always, “So, Blair, how much do you make?” & it’s kind of like asking a lady’s age or wearing white after Labor Day – you simply do not do it. Because if I told you, I’d have to kill you & I’m really not into joining a prison gang. I actually wrote a bit about monetizing your blog back a few months ago, but I’m not even going to link to it because a) it’s embarrassing & b) I’ve learned A LOT more since then.
I am going to start with the best & most IMPORTANT piece of advice in the entire blogging universe – DO NOT BLOG WITH THE SOLE INTENTION OF MAKING MONEY. There is only one Dooce in this universe – I’m not her, & you are not her. She’s in Utah with a weird haircut, frolicking her smart ass around on HGTV with her cute kids. Do not begin blogging with dreams of being interviewed by Oprah for your refreshing outlook on life, or buying a mountain house in Aspen with the cash money that will roll in. But if you can make enough to cover the cost of your domain, design, & maybe even throw a few Pumpkin Spice Lattes in? So worth it.
To start supporting your java addiction, there are a few key pieces:
- Know your statistics.
- Use Google Analytics! They can tell you how many unique hits versus page views you receive, & your loyalty of readership.
- I tend to be of the opinion that readership loyalty is FAR more important than unique hits.
- WordPress.com folks, you have built-in statistics!
- Use Google Analytics! They can tell you how many unique hits versus page views you receive, & your loyalty of readership.
- Know your demographic.
- Are they women? Are they mothers? Are they adventurous or fashion-conscious or really into home design? (more than likely, this has a strong correlation to what you write.
I had an established following prior to selling advertising, which made me feel more confident in contacting companies. & I made a point to contact companies that I use, enjoy, & appreciate. My relationship with Jockey started when I found myself buying Jockey shapewear after delivering Harrison. & I realized, “How cool is it that I wore Jockey as a little girl & now I’m wearing it as a mother?” I own product of most of my advertisers. I carry their bags & wear their jewelry with pride & on my own dollar. Stand behind your advertisers for their trust & the trust of your readers.
- Figure out what you are worth. These are EXCELLENT sites to explain how to do this:
Make a media kit listing your credibility, demographics, statistics, testimonials. Add your rates & size options (mine includes actual pictures of the sizes!). & I’m a big fan of an “About” personalized page that makes you seem more…well, you. THEN MAKE IT A PDF THAT CANNOT BE ALTERED.
- Set up a way to pay.
I like PayPal because I can set up invoice templates & most folks are on PayPal in some way, shape, or form. It also helps me check out faster on Etsy, but don’t tell my husband.
- Don’t sell out.
This past year held a lot of “growing pains” for my blog as I navigated this fresh new world of blog sponsorship. I adjusted my rates & my attitude several times. In the beginning, I was rabid for anyone to throw me some cash money. $20 for a year of a text link ad that had nothing to do with my blog? Sure!! In the past, I answered every. single. request. for my media kit. & I ended up staying up until 11pm on a Tuesday night, trying to decide if people would think it was weird to have USB Cable ads running amuck under yesterday’s post. It made me seem money-hungry & like I was skirting away from actual writing & blogging.
& I never want to be seen that way.
These days, I do not fear the “delete” button on Gmail. In fact, there’s a dude yapping about some kind of new-age kitchen gadget that will never get a response from me. I have now been known to say, “I am sorry, but it is not a fit. I suggest that you contact Blogger XYZ & I wish you the best!”
Keep a focus of why you started blogging. Why you started writing & sharing & communicating. After all, it’s the reason people hang out with you on the internet to help support that coffee addiction advertising.
Welcome to Momcomm Monday! I have a special guest today… fellow marketer and blogger (and friend) Fadra from all.things.fadra. Every month (or so), I’ll invite a blogging mom who’s also in marketing or public relations to guest post on Momcomm Monday. My main criteria? I’ll only ask marketing mommies who are as crazy about marketing and PR as moi.
Take it away, Fadra!
It’s time to talk about the one thing bloggers aren’t supposed to talk about: traffic.
We would all love to be purists and write simply for the sake of writing. We don’t care who reads our blogs. We don’t care if people like it or they don’t. It’s all about the art and the craft.
If we didn’t care about traffic, we would be starting every post with “Dear Diary” and writing it in our little locked book and keeping it in the nightstand.
It’s okay to admit that you like people to visit your site. It’s okay to admit that you get excited, and dare I say, encouraged when you get comments. Especially the thoughtful comments. And while it would be great if people organically found our blogs and fell in love with our writing and left us wonderful comments, that’s not really how it happens.
I recently had some pretty large spikes in traffic over at my site all.things.fadra. I don’t say that to brag about it because it wasn’t exactly organic. I helped bring those spikes. And I’m going to tell you how you might do that too.
Why you should care about spikes
Let me first say that spikes in traffic are great but spikes are exactly that. A one shot, one stop deal. Your numbers shoot up and then return to normal. But usually, I find they return to a new normal. You get a lot of quick, fast exposure to people who may not have otherwise visited your blog before. If you have a compelling site (we’ll save that one for another day), you will hopefully make people want to return.
1. Start with the obvious
I don’t like to make assumptions. So I’ll start with the obvious.
Track your traffic.
There are lots of tools out there to help you track your site traffic for free. Probably the most commonly used is Google Analytics. You need this on your blog. Plain and simple. You sign up for an account through Google, you add your URL, and you usually insert a simple code into your blog’s HTML. Sounds scary? It’s not. There are a million and one tutorials out there to help you do this regardless of your blogging platform.
2. Check your traffic
Again, I’m being a little bit obvious. You need to check your traffic to get a sense of your patterns.
When do people read your blog?
Mondays are usually the busiest day on the internet so if you’ve got something important to say, it’s usually best to do it on a Monday.
What do people like to read about?
What posts garner the most comments and from who?
How are people finding your posts?
These are all questions that are easily answered by a glance at your Google Analytics. And if you don’t have time, you can even set up a report that can be emailed to you on a regular basis.
3. Create some buzz
I use Twitter a lot but Facebook is also a good medium for creating buzz before you publish or even write your post. If I have an idea for something I want to write about, I might throw out a question to engage people in advance. If I planned to write about the new Twitter interface, I might say:
Wow, I don’t have the new Twitter yet. I must not be special. Who has it?
“I don’t. BUT, yesterday I noticed a *tiny* button at the top of the screen for a “preview.” Maybe you have that too?”
“be thankful. I hate it.”
“i finally got it yesterday #newtwitter it’s like old twitter but wider #twittergotfat”
“I’d spend a round in the ring with Manny Pacquiao sans gloves to have old Twitter back #newtwitter”
Clearly, this is something people are emotionally invested in. If I choose to write about it, I now have a list of people who might be interested in reading it. I might follow up the responses by saying:
“Sounds like mixed emotions about #newtwitter. I just might have to write about it and you tell me if you agree.”
I’ve done this before and actually had people ask me to send them the link when I write about it. You better believe I take them up on that.
4. Write about a very personal experience or story.
We all love to see your beautiful daughter playing with her Barbie doll in the sprinkler. But that’s not the kind of post that will get people talking. If you had a great experience (at the park, at the grocery store, at McDonald’s, at a blogging conference) or you are baring your soul, people will want to read and want to engage and want to share.
5. End with a question.
If you are writing about an experience, ask people to share a similar experience in the comments. If people attended an event, ask them their favorite part. If you are baring your soul, invite people to do the same.
6. Reach out to relevant readers.
It gets annoying if you are always asking specific people to read your post. But if I have mentioned someone in one of my posts, I like to let them know. Everyone wants to read about themselves and they will most likely share it with their friends. If you write about a specific topic or brand, let someone related to that topic or brand know.
7. Use a hashtag.
For example, if you write about post about postpartum depression, find an appropriate hashtag to use on Twitter when providing a link (example: #ppdsupport). It’s makes it easier and a lot more likely for people who don’t follow you or your blog to become aware of your post.
My Real World Experience
I recently had a few posts that gave me large spikes in traffic. I thought I would share some of my real world experience to tell you how it worked for me.
I tweet a lot.
- If I’m at a conference, everyone knows it. I use hashtags like #bloggybootcamp or #BlogHer10 or #typeamom.
- If I have a comment about a specific store or brand, I reference the Twitter ID for that store or brand.
- I respond to most tweets so that people feel engaged.
If I have a high visibility good experience, I share it.
- I recently wrote about a great customer service experience I had with McDonald’s corporate.
- I wrote about the larger blogging conferences I attended with pictures and video.
I invite readers to my post.
- When I wrote my conference wrap-ups, I posted the link on Twitter with the conference hashtag.
- I sent messages to the bloggers I wrote about or posted pictures of.
- For my customer service experience, I used the #custserv hashtag and sent the link to the reigning Twitter guru of customer service experiences.
- I also sent a note to the McDonald’s intern who helped me.
Sometimes you just get lucky.
- Every once in a while, you might get a somewhat popular blogger to link to your post or even tweet it out (this happened to me). You don’t ask for that (that would be uncool). But when it happens, it’s amazing!
- Corporate can pick up on positive stories and use them to their advantage. I was contacted by the McDonald’s Director of Social Media who asked if he could share my experience on his blog. Um, yes!
One last bit of advice… if you are lucky enough to drive a spike in your traffic and comments, you will likely have found a new group of readers. Be sure to respond quickly and genuinely to their comments and hope they will come back another day.
Fadra Nally is wife, mother, and ex-corporate worker. When she’s not chasing after her three year old son, she consults with businesses on marketing strategy and social media. In the blogging world, she writes about life, motherhood, and marketing at all.things.fadra.
My last guest post of the week comes from my good friend, Heather from Follow Linus.
Our hubbies work together so that’s how we met. I talk to this chica nearly every day, multiple times a day. She’s crazy hilarious and was the friend who initiated Operation Big Roo when I went into labor with the little guy. A true friend in every sense of the word.
I was very excited when my sweet friend, Mel, asked me to do a guest blog post for her. She and I share so many similarities – it’s almost scary. However, I will say that her love for the outdoors is much greater than mine. I wouldn’t have said this only a few short months ago. The outdoors has been working against me.
Seriously, people. Let me explain. (It’s a bit long, so I won’t blame you if you don’t finish reading this saga.)
We bought a new house and moved-in in May. Boy was I excited! We have this huge, gorgeous yard with SO much potential. Yes, potential. It is completely overgrown with amazing plants and trees. Once we cut it back and grow some grass, it’ll be fabulous. Well, easier said than done.
Memorial Day weekend. It was one we would never forget. A great cookout with friends, relaxing, shopping, and yard work. Yard work – that’s what I’m here to tell you about. My husband, my son, and I were out in the front workin’ our tails off – our goal was to make some progress in getting rid of those weeds. I was determined to show my husband that I could really do some great work. I pulled, yanked, cut, and wrestled with all types of foliage.
As a safety precaution, we all took showers after our morning outside. After all that digging and sweating – we wanted to all get back to our sweet-smellin’ selves. I will say, nothing is better than being freshly showered, having on clean clothes, and sipping a tall glass of lemonade after working in the yard.
Those sweet, fun memories came to a screeching halt. What was that itchy, rash on my finger? I don’t get poison ivy. I’ve never had poison ivy. Did you hear that?… I’M NOT ALLERGIC TO POISON IVY!
One week went by, just a little itchy. No big deal. I had my college reunion in Boston and was glad I just had a little patch of poison. It was a little itchy, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Sunday morning I took a flight back to Raleigh and was feeling not so great by the time I arrived at RDU airport. I made a quick pit-stop in the ladies room only to discover that I was beginning to be COVERED in poison.
This is when the memories of Memorial Day weekend came back to haunt me. I can close my eyes and picture all the IVY I was digging up and wrapping around my neck to carry to the trash can. When I say wrapping around my neck, I mean it literally. Wow. How stupid can I be? (No need to comment on that.)
For SIX weeks, I was in agony. I couldn’t believe this type of thing could happen. I was covered head to toe in poison. I tried everything to help the pain go away. I took the Aveno bath, I took Benedryl, I washed everything I touched in hot water, I tried not to scratch, I took steroids, I put steroid cream on. My husband and I even slept in separate beds for about a month, so I didn’t wake him while scratching.
Waking up and scratching for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night for weeks straight was not my idea of a good time.
Nothing was able to give me relief. The doctor even said it was one of the worst cases she has seen in a long time. The only positive thing she had to say was that I was lucky it wasn’t in my eyes. Seriously?
It’s been about 9 weeks since I was infected. I still have scars and, at my most recent doctor’s appointment, I was told it would take about a year for them to disappear. What I thought was a silly thing to be worried about turned out to be the worst kick-off to the summer.
Now, believe it or not, I’m dealing with an infected bug bite that gave me flu-like symptoms and a fever of 100! My entire stomach is itchy and red. Even though it’s itching, it is nothing in comparison to the poison. Just annoying.
I’ve decided to give up on Summer 2010 and hope for better luck next summer.
My advice: don’t assume you are not allergic to any type of poison – ivy, oak, and/or sumac – everyone can be allergic at some point in their life.
If anyone knows of a bubble-suit I can wear for the rest of the summer, please let me know.
Are you guys enjoying my guests so far? Two more to introduce you to!
Today’s guest blogger is Suzanne from Pretty*Swell.
Suzanne and I love to talk about blogging, kids and cool design over big amounts of Pad Thai. I met Suzanne through my friend Heather (who you’ll meet tomorrow) and we clicked right away. She’s an amazing writer and has an unnatural (but hilarious) love for bacon.
I am SO excited to hang out here at adventuroo today! Mel is just an awesome girl, and I have loved this blog since the moment I laid eyes on that wacky little raccoon (squirrel? bear?) in the banner. She is one creative, smart, funny mama (shall I go on?), and I am so glad we’ve become friends in real life.
When Mel suggested that we write about the outdoors, the very first thing that popped into my head was BEACH.
I absolutely love the beach.
Always have. Always will.
And I really hope that one day I’ll be able to live on the coast.
So it goes without saying that I could not wait to take my daughter to the beach for the very first time. To dip her toes in the ocean and see her reaction to ALL THAT SAND.
She was only five months old on her first trip to the North Carolina coast, not yet able to sit on her own, so we took turns holding her up in this little makeshift tub. Filling that basin with seawater became as much a part of our routine each day as folding open beach chairs or twisting the umbrella stand down into the sand.
She loved it.
I will always treasure the memories of that trip for a reason that I think any new mom can relate to: we slept.
For the first time in the five months since my daughter was born, she slept through the night. Every night! She took epic naps and fell asleep often on the beach. I was giddy.
Fueled by the desperation of sleep-deprivation, I vowed that we were never leaving. Something about the beach was magic. The baby was sleeping! Holy crap!
Was it the salt air? The rhythmic cadence of the waves? Perhaps it was the rental company’s crib, which I contemplated stealing. See: desperate.
Whatever the magic was, I wanted to bottle it up and take it home by the caseload.
But that’s just the thing about the beach.
You can’t put your finger on just one thing.
The air, the water, the soft sand, even the squawking gulls. And, oh yes, the fried shrimp and fresh-from-the-boat flounder. Let’s not forget those.
Everything about the beach is what makes it wonderful.
I can’t wait to get back.