Disclosure: Some posts on this blog are sponsored, meaning that I received goods, services, or monetary payment for my writing. My opinions however, are not 'purchased' and are always 100% my own. Posts contain affiliate links that I earn a commission on. This disclosure is done in accordance with the FTC 10 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Success For Your Blog

Recently I have received inquiries as to how I am able to run and promote my blog so well without spending my own money. To be honest, my blog is a newer one, but I have seen a lot of small successes already, and each one is reason for a mini-celebration in my eyes. So for those who have been curious, I will do my best to impart my (limited) wisdom to you.

First of all, I just need to say that I first and foremost attribute my success to God. I've been flying by the seat of my pants my entire life, and He's always taken care of me. When I decided to do this I told Him I needed His help and that I would give it all to Him, and I do. Doors have opened for me that I never thought would open, and I've learned something new and helpful each day. It's been amazing so far. So there's that.

Now. To start up my blog, I actually did invest some of my own money. You need to do giveaways to attract people to your site, and come up with interesting themes, reviews, DIY, etc., to keep those people.

But that doesn't mean that you need to spend your own money forever. Look at other blogs, really read through them. Ask them for tips, view their sidebars. Most of them are full of little snippets of information and buttons that will take you to where you want to go. Where do you want to go? You want to go to the websites that give you things to review for free of course. That means you have content for your blog, but you are no longer spending your own money. Don't get me wrong, someone needs to review the stuff that we all buy everyday (toilet paper, canned goods, candy bars), and if you are buying those things at the store anyways and want to review them, that's fine. But when you have a company (or companies) backing you up, they provide you with resources in addition to that free stuff. They provide Twitter parties, coupons, Facebook information, samples, and all sorts of other neat things that you just wouldn't have on your own. Plus the fact that you are a part of something bigger than yourself will give you additional exposure. At the end of this post I'll give links and information on two of my favorite review sites.

Next, network network network. And don't "fake" network. When you visit someone's blog in a blog hop, be thoughtful. Don't make comments that aren't true. When I blog hop, I only comment and ask for a return visit if I can make a genuine statement about one of their posts and I truly like their content. If I don't like the content, or it just isn't my thing, I don't comment. Yes, they get a free visit from me, and I don't get one from them, but that doesn't matter. The question you should ask yourself is "Is networking with this person going to benefit my blog and/or my business in the long run?". If the answer is no, move along. You will only waste your time and gain a reputation as someone who is only interested in others for the sake of self-promotion.

Spread out your social networking and sign up for all of them that you can find. Yes, really sign up for everything that you can find. I'm not saying that you need to be on the computer 24/7, but there could be someone out there that is looking for a blog like yours, but they aren't finding you on Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps they will find you on Instagram or Pinterest or LinkedIn or one of the hundred or so other networks that are out there now. An easy way to go about things is to make sure that you try and post to your medias when there is something real changing on your blog, you have a true deal to share, or you got some sort of opportunity that must be shared with the world. Don't mindlessly social network. Spamming "Earn money, click the link" in Twitter ten times in five minutes is going to earn you unfollows. Don't be the spammer-blogger. Nobody likes that. If you really want to share what is going on with people, spread your tweets or your posts out so that they can be viewed by a different crowd every half hour or so, and try not to tweet or post more than once per minute.

And most definitely know your Klout score, your Alexa rating and your Page Rank, and exactly what those things are.

Out of all of these, Klout is my favorite. Not only does it rate your performance across certain social medias and give you an overall score, but it allows you to see what big-time social networks you may be missing out on. In addition to that, Klout will send you awesome perks from time to time. You can use them for reviews on your blog or to grow your business depending on what they are. So far I've received three perks, one for business cards, one for marinades, and one mystery perk that I haven't received in the mail yet.

Alexa ranking is a bit trickier. It gives you a ranking based off the likelihood of someone in the world finding your blog on the internet at any given time. It shows you the current number of sites linking in to you, as well as providing stats on things like: How long does the typical viewer stay on your site?, What percentage of people view more than one page?, and Where are most of your inbound views coming from?

Google's Page Rank is my least favorite of these, not only because of how sporadically and/or infrequently they update it, but also because it isn't necessarily a good measure of how well received your blog is. Google Page Rank operates off of the idea that if you have a good blog or page, people will link to your site. Now, this may be true in some cases. But then you have to take into account that the Page Rank of the people linking to you also affects your score. If you have a hundred sites linking to you, but they all have a Rank of zero, your rank isn't going to skyrocket. It might even stay at zero. I wouldn't worry too much about your Google Page Rank, but you still need to keep an eye on it since some of the more highly-prized blogger sponsor sites won't take you on unless you have a good Page Rank. It isn't a die-hard necessity, but some websites do still rely on it to tell them how good a blog is.

The above three paragraphs are a huge part of why you need to network. Networking doesn't just get page views, it gets people to really interact with your blog. That makes your Klout score go up, your rating on Alexa go down, and will slowly (but surely) increase your Google Page Rank.

Hopefully this will help some of you out there who are struggling to really get your blog to take off. I wish I could say more on web design and/or structuring your blog, but I'll admit that I'm stuck in the mud with that one myself. I'm not programmer-savvy, and I don't want to be. I'll probably learn bits and pieces as I go, but for now I'm more than happy to ask others for help when I need it.

Now before I end this post, I'll let you all know about two sites that I have found to be very good resources for my blog.

The first is Smiley360. This site gives you missions based off of their mission pre-surveys, how well you've done in missions past, and how well-fitted you are to their current mission. Do not answer the pre-surveys with what you think they want to hear just so that you can get free product.  If you get accepted to one of these missions and the product doesn't apply to you, it's not going to benefit your site or the company represented in the mission and it won't make your advice look valuable. Plus, you won't have fun on the mission since you aren't really being benefited by it, and your opinion won't sound genuine. On the other hand, if you make sure to always answer honestly, be yourself, and really give it your all, you will see a lot of mission offers. And because they will be offers that apply to you, that will show through in your opinion and you will gain rep as a positive influence. I joined on 2/21/13, and I've already completed two missions and have three that are currently active. I get coupons to give to my readers, special information to hand out or blog about and free product to try. It's pretty awesome, I can't say enough how much I love this site. Hands down, it's my favorite right now for product review. And even if you haven't been given a mission you can earn smiles. And the more smiles, the higher your chances of getting a mission. You can earn them just by providing an honest review of products that you use everyday on their Smiley360 Connect page. Pretty cool right? You can join up by clicking here.

The second site that I love is Influenster. They are full of Twitter parties, interesting reviews, special tasks and social status. You can even put your Influenster score on your page as a button. Mine is over at the right. I've been a member for just around two months now, and I'm going to be receiving my first VoxBox! VoxBoxes are Influenster's way of saying "Hey, we noticed you. We know you have some social standing and give a good opinion, here's a box of goodies to review."  Do a good job and you'll have more VoxBoxes down the line. You can bring your Influenster score up at any time by reviewing the products they have up on their page, but unlike Smiley360, they have a more limited product data-base to review. If you are going to try to do a lot of reviews on Influenster, I suggest scanning the available products for things that you would normally buy, and then putting that specific brand or type on your grocery list for the next time you go out. You can put the review up on your blog and on Influenster and take care of two tasks at once.

As always with everything that you review, be honest with your readers. Make sure they know that you got the product for free. Be creative in your reviews, don't sound like a commercial. If you are reviewing cheese, don't just tell your readers that the cheese was good, DO something with the cheese for goodness' sake! Make a quiche, show how to create fancy cheese art, make up a recipe or compare it to another brand of cheese and take it out and about to see which kind people like more. I cannot stress this enough, be creative!!!

So there you have it. These things aren't secrets, but they might be time-consuming and require effort. This stuff didn't come overnight to me, so don't worry if you have a few discouragements along the way. I had to be patient, I had to work at it, I had to try my best. As long as you do that, you'll be alright.