I recently read this book by our professor Bill Belew titled ‘Marketing with Social Media’ (Kendall Hunt Publishing). Bill Belew is someone who could be referred to as the King of Social Media Marketing, yet I would stick to calling him ‘The King of Blogging’. It has almost 10 years now that he is earning his living by blogging and we all can see that he is doing quite well. He has given many seminars, presentations and more to talk about how to be successful in this very career field. And well, what to say he has proved each and every word he said. So more than anything else, I am very thankful for being a part of his classroom and even with a little knowledge from his end, I am sure we all can make it big.
The book ‘Marketing with Social Media’ has been neatly laid out in 9 chapters. It begins with the discussion about what is blogging, why one would become a blogger and how he, Bill Belew, became a blogger. He talks about how he has written more than 12,000 articles and still writing and got the number of page views that I will not be able to put in numbers here. He talks about how important it is to balance an article or a post between the appeal to a reader and appeal to a search engine. He states that if you write only with a reader in mind, a search engine might not find you and if you write for search engines, you might not be appealing to readers. One needs to maintain that balance between the two.
Lesson 1: Blogs are the king of Social Media. (Ref: Chapter 3, Pages 11-20)
Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and etc are just a princess at its best. But Social Media is ruled by blogs. Firstly, as a blogger, you know your readers which may not be the case with the other social networking sites. If your blogs are doing well, you might even be contacted by advertisers that can help you make money. There is a point where the professor mentions that he does not his followers or fans or contacts in social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+; I disagree with this part. Though this might be just my opinion but I feel you can relate to a number of things about your followers on these sites as well. He also talks about how our posts can get buried in the feeds of our friends. This is true as we have so many friends on these networking sites that it is difficult to keep up with all of them at once. The same will go for them. So my posts are lost there somewhere noticed may be by one or two. And it is an excellent platform for other services like consulting, speaking, membership sites and etc. The more active a user is, the better relationship he will have with his followers and other bloggers.
Lesson 2: How to get traffic to your website? (Ref: Chapter 4, Page 23-27)
To get traffic, you have to write, write and write. The more stuff you have at your website, the more findable you are. It is not just the quantity but also the quality of your posts. He states that there are some 220 variables that go into how a page or site is ranked. And of these, there are some 20 that will boost your site’s search results by 90-95%. Be consistent with updating the blog. The more often a website is updated, the easier you will be found. Lastly, it is important that you stick around for the blog to catch up. Sometimes it can take months for the blog to show results. And it will last that long.
Lesson 3: Use the right building blocks to your blog. (Ref: Chapter 5, Pages 30-33)
Usually, the first thing we need to do to begin a blog is to pick a domain name. It is not that important but it is not completely irrelevant either. Professor gave some tips about picking the domain name. Select a reliable hosting and good blogging software. And most importantly, choose what you want to write about. This is essential because if you have to write about something for so long, you have to have an interest in it and there should be enough to write about it. Additionally, it should be appealing to the reader as well.
Lesson 4: Use the right components. (Ref: Chapter 6, Page 38)
Name your blog right. Again, it’s not the most important thing to do but it should be easy to spell, easy to remember. Taglines are very significant for your blog. You basically describe your blog in a few words. Decide your categories. The focus of the blog should be divided into categories (up to 15). Put the sitemeter to know where readers came from, what they searched, how long they stayed, how many pages they read and more.
Lesson 5: Be convinced that you want to blog. (Ref: Chapter 7, Page 42)
He has stated facts about blogging here. But what is interesting is a small test to see whether you can or you would like to blog. This is helpful in convincing yourself that you can blog. There are questions like – Do I enjoy writing? Do I have a message? Can I make a commitment? Do I like to learn? Am I willing to work hard? And more.
Lesson 6: Write good original content. (Ref: Chapter 8, Page 57, 59)
There are a lot of blogs that are spam blogs, spam news or coped blogs. Writing original content is very important as well. And the blog should be at least 200 words. Anything longer than 300 words can be divided into parts. Include media contents like pictures, videos etc. It is appealing to the eye and also ranked in images. Write about something that people want to read about, know about and it makes contribution to a discussion not just stating facts.
Lesson 7: Create Links (Ref: Chapter 6, Page 58)
Include at least one external link to another blog or news or any other website. Most of the times the other bloggers will return the favor. Also, you will form good connections. This is the way to create back links. Also, must have is an internal link. It gives the reader something related to read about. Backlinks from authoritative sites are also helpful.
Lesson 8: Be Timely (Ref: Chapter 8, Page 61)
If your post is current, it will have a higher value than those that do not. And then your post also becomes exclusive and unique. You will be of value to a lot of people.
Lesson 9: Engage (Ref: Chapter 8, Pages 63-67)
It is an excellent practice to engage the readers. It may be in the form of a question, opinions, asking for feedbacks just plain comments. Social media marketing is a two-way street. Communication is very important for bloggers and readers. He has mentioned about the benefits from such dialogues.
Lesson 10: Keep working till you see results (Ref: Chapter 9, Page 72)
It will take time to see results. Keep at it. It may take 5 months, 6 months or even 10 months to show some traffic. Keep working hard- you will definitely see results.
Reading this book has definitely helped me understand some key concepts behind blogging and success of bloggers. This is the just the beginning few days of my blog and I am waiting to see my results.