Extending Your Reach in the Blogosphere

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Many of us participate in niches that are characterized by intense competition. While I don’t feel that bloggers who cover the same topics are distinctly competing against each other where one wins and one loses, there is a sense of competition for traffic, subscribers, and attention from the target audience. For those of us who do blog in highly saturated and competitive industries, extending the reach of your blog can be the difference from being incredibly successful as opposed to simply being lost in the crowd of similar blogs.

Even if you are not blogging in a crowded niche, extending the reach of your blog can help you put yourself in front of a new audience. Regardless of your situation, your blog needs to impact your target market in more ways than simply publishing content on your blog.

Before you attempt to extend the reach of your blog, here are some ways to set yourself up for success:

Have a clearly defined purpose – What is your blog about? Why does it exist? What does it offer to readers? Before your visitors can know what your blog is all about, you must decide this for yourself and make it evident through the approach that you take to blogging. A clearly defined purpose can be the difference between a focus effort that connects with readers and a scattered, unorganized approach that lacks results.

Have a strategy – Once you have determined the purpose of your blog, set up a brief strategy for acting on that purpose. How will you reach readers that will want to see what you have to offer? What will make visitors become subscribers? Your strategy will most likely change over the course of time as your blog develops, but it is helpful to always know what direction you are heading so that you can take the necessary steps to get where you need to be.

Welcome visitors – As first-time visitors arrive at your blog. Take the time to develop navigation that will allow them to easily find what they are looking for, and consider highlighting your best content so that it is frequently seen by new visitors. They should know what your blog is about almost immediately upon arrival.

Use a design that promotes your RSS feed – If you hope to have long-term success as a blogger, you’ll need to build a loyal following of subscribers. Be sure that your RSS feed and email subscription options are easily visible to anyone who visits. If people have to work to find your subscription options, they typically won’t subscribe.

Methods of Extending Your Reach:

Guest posting on other blogs – In my opinion, writing guest posts is absolutely hands-down the best way to reach large, new audiences. There are plenty of bloggers who are willing and interested in receiving articles from other bloggers, and this is an incredible opportunity. When I started promoting my primary blog this was one of my points of emphasis, and I feel that it was very effective. Not only will you be able to get your name and your writing in front of a new audience, but guest posting is an excellent opportunity for networking with other blogger.

Freelance blogging – The difference between guest posting and freelance blogging is that you are paid for freelance work, but you typically won’t get a brief author bio and a link like you would with a guest post. For me, I fell into freelance blogging unintentionally through guest posting, but it has been a great way to consistently build my name and reputation (although I obviously still have a long way to go), not to mention that the additional money is nice.

Link building – Most bloggers are attempting to get links from other blogs in one way or another. You could be participating in link exchanges, blogroll exchanges, developing linkbait, or any number of other approaches. Getting a few links from blogs with large audiences or with audiences that are very similar to your own can be an excellent way to reach new readers.

Commenting on other blogs – Many new bloggers spend lots of time visiting other blogs and leaving comments in an attempt to get noticed and bring some traffic back to their own blog. This can be an excellent approach if you leave insightful and intelligent comments and if you focus on the right blogs.

Participate in blog carnivals and group writing projects – If you’re not submitting your posts to blog carnivals you are missing out on some easy links. Blog carnivals are essentially a collection of links to blog posts on a common topic. You can find a huge list of current carnivals at BlogCarnival.com. Group writing projects are just about the same as blog carnivals where one blog hosts a bunch of links to other bloggers. From time-to-time, you may see some other blogs in your niche hosting a group writing project. If so, take a moment and submit a link to one of your posts. Carnivals and group writing projects won’t attract thousands of new visitors to your site, but they can help you to build links to your blog and increase your overall exposure.

Social media – Most new bloggers get excited at the opportunity to draw huge amounts of traffic from social media sites, and rightfully so, but many only submit their posts to major social media sites like Digg. While these sites have the potential to send the most traffic, there are also thousands of other bloggers attempting to become popular on these sites. If you’re going to target major social media sites, you should also be focusing on creating excellent content that appeals to social media users and building a network of friends that will vote for your links. Don’t simply target Digg because it has the largest audience. Smaller niche social media sites may be more appropriate for certain types of content (I wrote an article on ProBlogger about targeting the right social media sites that you may want to check out). If you’re looking for social media sites in a particular niche, try this categorized list of over 400 social media sites.

Advertising – Most bloggers are hesitant to spend any money on their blog that’s not absolutely necessary, but if you look at your blog as a business and you’re willing to invest some money in an attempt to get more out of it, consider placing some ads on other blogs in your niche. Most blogs now sell advertising space, and you should have no problem finding some reasonable advertising options. Having your banner ad on other blogs will obviously help to get your message in front of a targeted audience and to draw some of those people to your blog.

Interviews on other blogs – Interviews are common throughout the blogosphere, and you don’t necessarily have to be an A-list blogger to be interviewed. I have interviewed a few others on my blog because I felt that they would have something relevant to say to my readers, not because they are ranked in the Technorati top 100. If you’re interested in doing some interviews on other blogs a good start would be to post your availability for interviews on your own blog. Some of your readers may be interested and take you up on the offer.

Networking with other bloggers – One of the most crucial activities for bloggers, in my opinion, is networking. A strong network can help you with just about any of the other items mentioned on this list (especially social media marketing, link building, and guest posting). As you build a network you will be increasing your exposure to others who are in a position to be able to help you. For more information on networking, see Expanding Your Blogging Network .

Community Sites – Whatever industry or niche you are in, chances are at least a few community websites exist for those who are like you. These types of sites are excellent for expanding your reach through networking and building name recognition. If you know of any community sites that are relevant to you, be sure to visit a few times each week and make an effort to get involved.

Forums – Web forums are a great place to meet others in your niche and help others with problems that they may be having. If you focus on providing value to others rather than sending traffic to your blog, forums can be very effective. For more information, see Using Forums to Grow Your Blog .

E-Book Release – I’m sure you’ve seen many bloggers use free e-books as a way to attract subscribers, and when done well it is extremely effective. Not only can an e-book help you to increase in numbers, but more importantly, it can build your reputation and establish your name as an expert in the field. While writing an e-book will take time, it is an effective way to increase your reach and promote yourself as an expert in your field.

What’s Your Opinion?

What methods do you use to increase your reach? What have you found to be effective or ineffective?

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