Find your audience...and obey the Online Rules of the Road Review #5 Of The Weblog Handbook by Rebecca Blood
Chapter 5 starts with how to go about Finding an audience. I was pretty excited about reading this chapter as I think many new bloggers and even experienced bloggers can relate to this....we all want to be heard ...or better yet be read and understood...feel like we're connecting.
Somehow knowing someone is listening validates us as bloggers...it's human nature I think to measure ourselves against the praise or acceptance we receive from others. Blogging is the perfect platform to achieve that.
Chapter 5 gives tips on How to Find your Audience, some of them are very basic... from registering your website, submitting your URL, the importance of metatags and optimizing your weblog/website. Keep in mind please that this book is a few years old and many of these tips have been creatively written about and explored right here on Active Rain.
One thing that stands out in my mind is a very simple way of promoting your blog...add the URL to all your advertising, signature files...promote it to the public and your peers. I think many of us here on AR already do that but it bares mentioning because some times it's the simple things...the no-brainers that we overlook. Adding the URL to you signature on your e-mail...how easy and how effective.
When I got to the second part of the chapter I really got excited as it has a section detailing with the Online Rules of the Road that we all must be aware of when joining a community site.
Playing Nice in the Sand box.
I thought this section was excellent and very timely! I know when I first joined Active Rain that I felt like I was playing in someone else's playground or backyard and I had no clue what the rules were...so I read and read and tried to get a feel for the community...I wanted to know what it was all about before I made my first pitiful...and they were pitiful, attempts at blogging.
Some of the things that Rebecca writes about in this section really stand out to me and I think they apply particularly when joining an Online Community Site such as Active Rain.
“Messages on a weblog are recorded for posterity, you are creating an online reputation "...and I think just like real estate sales being a reputation business so is blogging. Just think of all the different personalities’ right here on AR. I don't know about you all but I have definite opinions of some of our more vocal bloggers. "People will form their entire impression of you based on the things you contribute!" This is so very true!
"Trying to remake any community in your own image will only alienate the current members"...spend some time reading so that you can get a sense of the community. "Interact with others in an interesting and friendly way!" Hallelujah...in a friendly way. Its okay to disagree but defend or attack the issue not the people...belittling members for their opinion serves no purpose and only makes you look foolish. This day and age of Transparency...people can see right through that type of behavior.
"You may gain more from lurking than by actively posting"...I can't tell you how true that is. Reading the posts is educational and sometimes very amusing...so even when I'm not posting I am definitely expanding my knowledge base...and unfortunately my bottom :)... If only I could read the blogs while walking on my treadmill!!!
Some things to remember...Rebecca's Rules of the Road
1. Don't post when you’re angry...No if and or buts about it...just don't do it.
2. Argue Facts...Not people...Back your facts up without running people over.
3. Once you've stated your position…sit back and read what others say...you might learn something...Don't be shy ask others why the feel the way they do.
4. Respond to personal attacks by ignoring them...Don't get drawn into a flame war!!!
5. Don't hijack conversations...This one is interesting as on AR several of us hijack posts, I think this is perfectly okay if you know the person...certainly not kosher if you do not.
6. Don't misrepresent other peoples positions...Remember it is very hard to see the meaning behind the written words!
Comments...People really appreciate genuine comments....put some heart and soul into your comments! People complain about the one or two word comments such as....great post...great blog. I know I've been guilty of that myself but sometimes a blog is so well written and covers so much that all I can do is add a "wow" and it is a genuine and heartfelt wow. Make an effort to comment in other peoples blogs/posts and be sure to acknowledge or comment back to people who leave comments on your posts. Knowing that their work is being read and commented on is truly gratifying and is what makes many a blogger tick.
Linking...Is another great connection maker...but don't be disappointed if you link to a site and they don't link back. Be sure to click your links...every link you put in your post should be clicked through by you.
This book also covers techniques and strategies that might back fire on you as you build your audience.
1.Cross-Blog Socializing..Talk that is not focused on an exchange of ideas but instead focused on small talk
2.Revolution- May be fascinating to you but tedious talk to others
3.Becoming Notorious-Being mean isn't fun especially for your audience
So in Closing...
This was a timely chapter to cover considering the events happening in our own on line community. I came away feeling that the crucial message in this chapter was... now that you've found your audience...don't spit in their face.
Over all I have enjoyed reading this book, while I had misgivings due to the fact that it is an older book. I am so glad I bought it and read it. I strongly suggest that if you are new to blogging and blogging in a community that this book is a must read.
My chapter ended with some very fitting words..."Do your best because you love it, appreciate the readers who visit, and don't allow your statistics to ruin your fun."
I can't help but feel it should have read don't let your points ruin your fun
To read the previous reviews of this book -
BLOG History 101 -- Review #1 - Mariana Wagner
Why BLOG - Review #2 - Ines Hegedus-Garcia
Creating and Maintaining Your blog-Review # 3 Ann Cummings
Finding your Blog Voice -Review # 4 Ann Cummings