by Sharon Lippincott, NAMW Advisory Board Member

Below is a list of a dozen blog promotion steps I found helpful in getting my first one launched with a bang four years and four hundred posts ago. It was picked up by Google almost instantly — if I looked for the right thing. When I first began the blog, it was titled “The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing” and it showed up second on the list for lifestory writing and a couple of topics within about three weeks. I haven’t looked for ages, but I think it still does well that way, and my traffic keeps climbing, slowly, slowly. I did drop the Story part from the title a couple of years ago, and broaden the focus to all types of life writing.

1. Register with blog directories. I have banners for several in my left sidebar. I’m sure there are lots more, but I quit looking.

2. Offer an e-mail subscription option as well as an RSS feed link. WordPress makes this really easy, and their feeds go out as soon as you click Publish. I’ve had my own show up before I had corrected errors!

3. Use lots of tags. Search engines look a them. Make a comprehensive list of tags and try to work in at least four per post. It’s not too difficult to alter the text a wee bit to add one more thought, even if it is a tiny stretch.

4. Include as many links to other web pages as you can without sounding forced. Those get you lots of search engine points. Be sure to take advantage of the WordPress link wizard option to open the links in a new window so they won’t click away from your post in mid-page and forget to come back. Adding a title to the link is a nice touch too, giving a professional touch to your blog.

5. Spend as much time as you can spare hopping around the blogosphere leaving comments. I almost always get a visit back from the host of a site I comment on, and I know from Google Analytics, Stat Counter, and WordPress tracking that lots of my visitors are clicking on my blog link when they find it on a comment elsewhere. Some of those comment and subscribe. There are a few blogs I visit and comment on regularly, but in general I hop around.

6. Click on links to other people who comment on the blogs you comment on. Many of them will have similar interests, and a comment on their blog may result in a link or reader for you.

7. Set up a links list in your sidebar. When you find a blog similar to yours in focus, or highly complementary, take the initiative to post a link in your sidebar, and notify that blog owner that you’ve done so. I don’t ask for a cross-link, but I nearly always get one. I haven’t done so much of that for a long time. By the way, I don’t link to blogs unless I can e-mail the owner. See below about posting an e-mail address on your blog.

8. Put your blog link in your e-mail signature, and if you can add something eye-catching like my heart logo to set it off, so much the better. Put that blog link on your business card, tell people about it, talk about it. Mention it in Forums. Let people know!

9. Get a “public” e-mail address — I use ritergal@gmail.com — and put that on your blog so people can contact you. That makes a huge difference. I do get a little e-mail that way, and Google is good at keeping spam at bay, so I don’t worry about that. This keeps my private e-mail address under better control. G-mail will import into Outlook, Live, or Thunderbird so you can keep all your e-mail in one place on your desktop.

10. Set WordPress to auto-tweet blog posts.

11. Keep posting, and keep the quality high. I post only twice a week now and my main blog, down from three times the first couple of years. That’s plenty. I post when I have something to say on the new one. People don’t have time to read it every day.

12. I have not mentioned Facebook, because I’m not personally a fan of Facebook (in new Facebook lingo, I don’t “like” Facebook), and it’s not easy to thread your blog into Facebook, though I have done so. If I were 100% serious about marketing, I’d work harder at pumping up my Facebook persona.