"How to become an A-list blogger," indeed. I may be going out on a limb with this series because I am not, in fact, an A-list blogger. However, I do contend that you don't need a Ferrari to know how to get to the grocery store. I'm perfectly happy being the Honda Accord of your marketing strategy. I got this idea from mega-blogger/Web 2.0 pioneer Jason Calacanis. If you've never heard of him, you may have heard of his companies. He started Silicon Alley Reporter, co-founded Weblogs.Inc, then became general manager at Netscape (when they were good), joined up with Sequoia Investments, and founded Mahalo.com. Needless to say, I can't hold a candle to this man.
However, while I was at the gym, I was listening to a months-old edition of the CalacanisCast, in which Jason off-handedly offered two simple ways to become an A-list blogger: show up (fairly obvious) and comment on other (respected) blogs. Here's the quote:
"Well I think there’s this hard working component: like showing up every day. And it’s very hard to do that right? So, you have to basically show up every day, that’s the baseline. And then you have to continually improve and you can’t just sort of phone it in, you know? ...
I mean I could tell you exactly how to become a quote-–un-quote A list Blogger. All you do is camp on TechMeme right? Whatever interesting stories come out, go to each of those places and write an intelligent comment on those peoples Blogs. Then every maybe three days write a really intelligent response to whatever the top stories are. If you do that for thirty or sixty days you’ll be in the A-List. It will absolutely happen."
While I don't do this enough, I can verify that this is a good tactic. Surprisingly, this innocent little comment has been my second all-time referrer of traffic with 48 people being driven to my site because of it (I'm currently on page two of the comments).
And I've had good success with the tech crowd, despite not being an expert. This quote is third on my all-time list of referrer (38 people) and this one on Engadget a bit further down on the list with 7 people. Both of these directed people to my search-engine friendly entry, "Steve Jobs Sucks."
The important thing is that Jason's advice works, at least to some extent. Plus, I didn't stop after writing my post. I commented on other blogs drawing people to the entry, I posted it on Facebook, recommended it on StumbleUpon - there are near infinite ways to promote your blog. And often the promotion takes as much or more time as the actual writing (and that's OK).
More Than Just Eyeballs
Commenting has two other results besides traffic generation:
- You get read by the other blog's readers who are in your field and interested in your topic
- You can make contact with that particular blogger if your post is especially good and continues a conversation
In my short time blogging, I have made contact with Phil Dunn, Avinash Kaushik, Chip Heath, Rob Walker, Joe Pulizzi, and many others. They can subscribe (potentially linking to your future posts), add you to their blogroll, offer advice, provide content, give comments, etc.
It Takes Time, Precious Time
Remember what Jason said about just showing up? That deserves repeating, especially in the context of all this commenting. I generally spend at least 6 hours per week working on this blog (often more). And I might post 3 times per week? The amount of reading, research, commenting, chatting, searching, and writing is mind-blowing. Not impossible, but if you really want an A-list blog, you must put in the time.
Write What You Know
Finally, I would be remiss without adding a final quote from that CalacanisCast.
"I think it’s your ability to create these conversations, I mean some people define it on the number of links you have coming in you’re Technorati ranking. It’s not really the most important thing. I think your ability to put ideas out there and then have people discuss them and ideas that sort of move the needle."
While you're doing all this writing and commenting, don't forget that your ability to generate conversations - writing about stuff people care about - is your most important responsibility as a blogger. But there are a lot of things involved in becoming an A-list blogger. Because there is so much to cover about being an A-list blogger, I've decided to make this a series. Feel free to comment about topics you think I should cover and subscribe so you won't miss further posts on the subject.