Dec 21, 2010

Social Media: Know what's up


I've been getting several questions as of late regarding how to start a blog and how to promote it, which is quite flattering considering this horse and pony show of a blog is anything but mainstream, professional or "good" in any sense.  I am not a professional writer but I do have some journalism background, so I figure I'd give some helpful tips I've learned after almost two years in the blog world. 

Hopefully this post will help you when it comes down to the basics:


The Blog
  • Start with a theme.  Doesn't matter if it changes later, just stick to what you start with for the most part.  Don't go changing it 700 times.  This blog started as 'Kirbie Needs a Job,' but since most of it was me giving my two cents about celebrities and entertainment, I changed it.  Not to mention it was a self-fulfilling prophecy because I ended up moving to Hollywood a few months later.
  • Be wise when you choose your domain.  I'm using Blogger, and at risk of being shut down by the Blogger gods, I kind of wish I had started with Wordpress and just paid the extra money to get all the bells and whistles.  Wordpress is much easier to edit and looks cleaner than these Blogger templates.  Also, I'd recommend Tumblr (they have more of a Mac-retro-hipster feel).
  • DO put down the money to buy a domain.  Whether it's KirbieJohnson.com or KirbieGoestoHollywood.com, pay the $10/year (or whatever) and make that shiz legit, especially if you want the site to be taken seriously and not just as a "blog."

Content
  • Write what you know.  I might not have a degree in entertainment, but I know who is doing what, when and where; I also know every agent, manager, and publicist (or know 'of' them, rather), their celebrity client and all of their social activities (further, I've always been the one my friends go to for what's going on in Hollywood).  So when I write about this stuff, I know what I'm talking about.  Same with beauty, I've worked at four different spas and salons as a manager and I have a lot of useful information when it comes to beauty trends and what not.  I'm a stylist on the side, which is where the fashion aspect comes in, and my degrees in Advertising/PR and Business has allowed me to properly promote this thing and promote other causes I support.  Lastly, lest we forget I am a woman, so when I'm writing about why men should do something or not do something, they all listen closely (because I am a woman, hear me roar).
    • However, it's important to focus your blog.  Writing about relationships on a sports blog doesn't mesh, however since my blog is lifestyle oriented with hopes of being turned into a full-fleged site, it works.
  • What I'm trying to say is make it known as to why you should be believed or read in the first place.  I've had people tell me they had no idea about my beauty background, but because my skin looks so nice they go out and buy all the crap I'm hocking on this site.  Another person put it, "I don't really care what you specialize in, I like how you write, and I feel like you're my friend, not a writer I barely know."  First off, thanks, that means a lot!  I write like I'm talking to my friends, not strangers, which is why most of this blog is written in first person and includes as lot of persosnal antecdotes. 
  • Brand yourself. What makes you different?  Why should people read what you have to say?  This blog is different than most because everyone reads "Kirbie Goes to Hollywood" and thinks it's a gossip blog, but really it's a lifestyle site for us 20-somethings who have no idea what we're doing with our lives.  We like to shop, we like the internet, we like entertainment and we need some spirituality to get us through all these "Am I eating ramen noodles this week" or "What is my place is this world?" shenanigans.  Mostly, we like to know we're not alone in all of these things.

Promotion
  • I initially started promoting my blog on Facebook, which always gets me the most views.  Last year, when I did my first holiday guide, I set aside $100.00 and did Facebook ads, which was perfect because it targeted men who were searching the internet for gifts (gotta love ad words).  Now, I utilize Twitter and thanks to some awesome bloggers, I'm on their blog roll, which sends me new readers almost daily  (I'm getting mine up soon).  I also wrote a post earlier this year about Vajazzling when Jennifer Love Hewitt talked about it on George Lopez, and the creator of the spa service, Completely Bare Spa, found my post and linked it to their homepage.  Surprisingly, people who search "bedazzle my vagina" get sent directly to my blog (LOL factor), and it has generated a ton of traffic and returning visitors.
  • Also, a good friend of mine and uber-publicist Michelle told me I needed to start tagging my posts with Google, Bing, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook, along with key words like "fashion", "style," "gifts," "Justin Timberlake," (I had to) etc.  so when people Google or Bing these items, my blogs will come up in search results.  I did this for a post entitled, "Heart racing in my skin tight jeans be your teenage dream tonight," a la Katy Perry lyrics; besides "Kirbie Goes To Hollywood" and "Bedazzle my vagina," this is another most-searched phrased that directs readers straight to my blog.
  • LINK.  Link like there's no tomorrow.  Other sites follow who links them, and incorporating other sites on your own will help to increase readership.
  • Follow other blogs and comment!  Making friends in the blogosphere increases the chances of other bloggers promoting yours!  Who would have thought?

Social Media Etiquette

Mama knows best: mind your manners!  This goes a long way not just in the game of life, but also in your online life.  Be polite, makes friends, and don't overindulge.
  • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT be that crazy person on Facebook and Twitter telling everyone to "read your blog" at least five times a day.  That is obnoxious.  I find when I post on Facebook around 10 AM CST (8:00 AM for me), I get the most hits throughout the day because a) a lot of people who read this blog tend to be on Facebook at 10:00 AM and b) when it gets a lot of hits, it propels it into Facebook's "Top News" on newsfeed, so later in the day people who missed it can catch up. 
  • Twitter is another situation where less is more.  Post once in the AM and then once in the PM.  Magazines get it right when they Tweet their posts because they include a link, a catchy one-liner and then later on in the week they'll promote the same post again.  It's effective because they're not overloading readers with too much self-promotion.
  • Be polite, not forceful.  If people want to read your blog, they will.  Don't get aggressive and start posting on people's walls links to your posts.  It's desperate and nobody wants to read a desperate person's blog.  Post on your own status and then let the blogging gods work their magic. If you have anything interesting to say, people will read.
  • I love when people start following me on Twitter claiming to be the King/Queen of social media, and when I go to their site it barley has any content/zero posts.  You're doing nothing but shooting yourself in the foot when you run around sites telling people to read your blog and you have nothing to show for it.  Generate some content, work on a decent layout, make some blog friends and then start promoting.  If you're first starting out, this can be hard, but either really hype up your first post (and make it fanstastic) or wait until you've gotten a few good ones out of your before soliciting people to read a bunch of boring garbage.  If I go to a site that I've been asked to read and there's only one post and they're following 7,000 people on Twitter and only have 30 followers, I've immediately lost interest.  What makes this person interesting?  Why am I reading this?  Why should I believe what they say?  All things that factor into how you gain and lose readers.

That's it for now.  Again, I'm not a guru in this field, but I've learned a lot in a short amount of time and all of these things can only help you expand and grow!

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