You see, I get to talk and think a lot (a lot) about blogging and digital strategy at work, so I’m in a fortunate position when it comes to making observations about where the digital magical community differs from the rest of the sphere… And also where it is similar.
If you’re not magico-blogging, two things:
- *Scowl*. You know my reader can hold as many feeds as it wants. Just saying.
- A lot of this can be considered ‘digital best practice’ anyway, so apply it to Facestalk, your personal blog… Wherever.
Let’s crack on, then.
1. Have a social media policy
I use Facestalk for work a lot, so I keep that ‘clean’. It’s worth thinking about because this is also going to be the one your prospective employers check second (after googling your name). Do you think those pictures of you in the woods, swing a sword and wearing a cape are going to help or hinder your job prospects?
Twitter, LinkedIn, Posterous… All fair game. Come find me there.
Of course, you can set up a fan page for your blog/magical business. No probs there. Just be sure it’s of value to people. Post original content there, ask for feedback, engage readers… Don’t just pile up ‘fans’ for the heck of it.
You need to be on twitter if you are blogging. That’s no longer a recommendation. It’s like a feed reader of live people. Twitter will make you smarter.
The point here is that you need a clear social media policy. Wall off the parts that might need walling off, lean into the parts that don’t and for frick’s sake make your content easily shareable.
2. Blog etiquette
Firstly, obey blog etiquette. And I don’t mean the commenting etiquette of individual blogs here, I mean all blogs. Blogging -when done right- is actually social media. It’s about engaging with people. You don’t want to be the asshole at the party.
What does this look like?
- Don’t flame. Sounds simple but passive aggression is still aggression.
- Learn how to link and do it. Most of you will monitor the magical blogosphere via a reader. (All of you should but that’s a separate post.) When you open a link from Google Reader it attaches a whole lot of goo to the end of the URL as it opens in your browser. If you then link to this, the site you are linking to won’t get the Google juice from it. This is suboptimal for the site and for you. (Your own SEO is impacted by junk links and not linking to larger sites.) So clean links. I had to go back and clean up mine a while back.
- Link lovingly. If you are linking off your own site, Google considers it best practice to use as many ‘anchor words’ as possible in your link. Example: If you were linking to this post, best practice would be to use the words ‘magical blogging playbook’ in your link. You should also do this to your own previous posts as well for the same reason. (I only do it sometimes but I’ve got a more complicated backlink thing going.)
- Don’t argue. Debate. This is similar to don’t flame but more specific to our niche. The whole point of an international magical dialogue is to bounce ideas off each other. And we are talking Big Ideas here. The biggest. Some you will agree with, some you won’t. Be sure to always keep it at the professional debate level. No one’s mind was ever changed in an argument. Debates change peoples minds. And anyway, arguing on the internet is beneath you. If someone disagrees with you, this is an opportunity to learn more about your own opinions. Disagreement -like failure- leads to more growth than agreement and success.
3. Steal properly
This point was originally titled ‘don’t steal’ but I’m not sure that’s the right phrase.
People like seeing their ideas absorbed, shared and responded to. That’s why they post them. That’s why I read them. Credit where you can. With a link if it’s appropriate, otherwise just with a name.
If your ideas start showing up in other people’s posts, that’s a good thing. If you don’t want people to process and incorporate your ideas then why are you sharing them in the first place?
Obviously actual theft falls squarely into the ‘don’t steal’ camp. This covers commercially available ebooks, courses, etc.
4. Feel free to lurk
Everyone loves getting comments. I even like getting ones that disagree with me. But you don’t have to. Lurking is allowed. People are lurking on your own blog, after all. Sometimes you can like something and not have anything to add.
On a related matter, here’s a fascinating article about how today’s digerati are the new Victorians.
Point 5 gets an exclamation. I for one really do want to hear what you have to say or find. I may not read my RSS everyday (however much I’d like to) but I am glued to my twitter feed.
Think it’s too much? It’s very difficult to overshare in a media environment as crowded as this. Oversharing would be repeatedly sharing the same thing or only sharing your own stuff.
6. Stand for something
Mentally think of the top 5 bloggers in this/your space. You know what each of them stands for. Blogs run on opinions. It’s why we’re all here in the first place.
What do you stand for? How is the global magical conversation different because you are involved?
It’s impossible to be completely original in the twenty first century but, at the very least, pick something that isn’t too crowded. And then make sure you pick a unique angle.
Note that this is just as easy to accomplish in a personal blog as it is in a ‘topic’ blog. Are you raising kids on your own? Are you trying to get fitter? Find a job? Build a helicopter? Your ‘personal’ blog actually always has a theme, anyway.
7. Have goals
You will never have a top 1000 blog. Our world is just too small. I know a little something about digital objectives so take it from me.
My suggestion would be to aim for more intrinsic goals: I’m here to learn. My life is genuinely enriched from the stories and tips that you share. I wouldn’t trade that for a blog that makes me twenty bucks a week in AdWords.
If you want a popular blog, start something in another niche. There are no rules on the amount of blogs you can have… It just comes down to time and priorities.
8. You are a resource
I know RO doesn’t care for my lack of archives (This comes up at work a bit. I hate archives. Archives of what? Time?? I only ever use the search box, anyway) but I go to some trouble to tag and categorise my posts so they show up better in the search box.
Still need to work on the tags though and I’ve got that scheduled for -fingers crossed- my new years down time.
Also revise your blogroll. (Guilty of letting this slip myself.) They’re very 2001 but they’re still useful. It’s certainly how I found a bunch of you: If people I read also read you then I’m interested. It also gives people an immediate snapshot of the kind of things you like. So it says something about your own blog. Every year I hear that blogrolls are dead. They aren’t.
Maybe think about that as a January 1st task while you are nursing your hangover? (I digitally tinker when I am hungover.)
Whatever you do, don’t forget that you are actually a resource.
9. Have a content strategy
The rule of thumb in the blogosphere is 300 word posts, one a day.
I’ve been tracking length/frequency for the past six months and the rules are different for our niche. There is very little change between long or short articles once you reach a certain volume of traffic.
I would say that consistency is key, however. You can post monthly but as long as it’s every month then go nuts. This also extends to penning a brief ‘out of office’ post if you are going to be away for a while. (This could just be for my benefit. I immediately assume you have all died.)
The last thing to bear in mind: It’s just the internet. Make sure you’re having fun. It’s your leisure time, after all.
What about you guys? Any others you can think of?