Monday, February 11, 2008

When One Thing Leads to Another: Blog Traffic, A Book Idea and a Little Self-Discovery

Blue Bridge

As some of you know, I'm teaching about blogging at Mount Hermon Writers Conference in March. And I'm so glad that Marcus Goodyear will be at my side for one of the sessions.

Anyway, as some of you also know, I've not been one to be too concerned with increasing blog traffic. Today is my 200th-post birthday and at age 200 this blog has mostly grown through a commitment to write and through the friendly responses of people who stop by (I honestly believe that you all are part of what makes Seedlings work!)

However...

I have been feeling a certain obligation. People at MH are going to want strategies. So.

This past week, I tried a few new things and I doubled my blog traffic. Yes, doubled. At this point I'm still trying to figure out exactly which button I pushed that resulted in such an amazing phenomenon. (Okay, so I've been a bad scientist. I tried too many things at once!)

Two things I want to share in particular are the new Socialize It button at the base of each post and in my sidebar. This button leads to a site that features all the major social bookmarking services like digg and del.icio.us. These may sound like something you'd find at a kid's party, but they are powerful ways to either remember, share, organize or celebrate favorite posts and blogs.

I also opened a Squidoo account. It has nothing to do with marine life, I promise. Instead, it's another way to create a presence on the web and drive traffic to your blog. This is where, for me, one thing led to another. I started innocently enough, by creating a "lens" called Writing Like Annie Dillard. But by the time I was finished, I'd decided to create two more, one of which features a new book idea.

Why did I do that? Well the last post I wrote on talking to editors and publishers through blogging got me thinking. People do get book contracts through blogging. I may not end up being one of them, but the simple act of putting the idea out to the world was an act of finally admitting that I'm ready. Stone Crossings is on its way and I want to put my pen (keyboard?) to a new task.

I was going to tell you how all this led to a little self-discovery, but this post has grown rather long. So I'll save that story for next time. In the meantime, you can try socializing and squidooing. And if it doubles your blog traffic, please let me know. So I can tell my seminar participants exactly which button to push.

Bridge photo by J Barkat. Used with permission.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Llama Momma said...

There is so much to this blogging thing that I just don't get.

So...do you need to add this to every post or can you just put it on the sidebar on your blog?

I stuck one in my sidebar just to see what would happen. (Maybe I'll double my "Is your mama a llama" google searches! Now that would be just my luck...)

1:28 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Hi, Llamma Mama... I know. It really is an amazing and complex blogoworld. You don't add it to each post each time, but rather you add it into your template under the footer item. Here's how it looks in my template placement, for instance:

p class="post-footer"

a href="http://www.socialize-it.com/index.php?url....

(Note that I didn't put the exact code here because my comment box was viewing this as html code! This is just for placement info. And for the full Socialize It code, go to the socialize site.)

Now, that's funny about doubling traffic on mama-llama searches! Well, funny over here anyway. :)

1:47 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Llama... Oops! I realize I didn't really answer your question. The reason you put it in both the footer and the sidebar is because people can then bookmark and share either your particular post or just your blog in general.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...

LL

Thanks for sharing your tips and strategies.

I don't focus much on driving traffic to my site - I did for about the first 6 months and then found it too encompassing for this Type A personality.

However, out of curiosity, I may try out your strategies and add a couple of my own...not so much for the explicit benefit of driving traffic but in an effort to learn if these actually work. A sort of experiment (I always liked Chemistry in school). Perhaps, I'll let you know what I discover.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

Of course. Makes perfect sense now.

(She says, trying to act confident and sure of herself; hoping the cool girl in the cafeteria will invite her to sit down with her.) ;-)

I do wish I could be at Mt. Hermon this year. I would love to hear your thoughts on blogging! Do blog about it all, if you get the chance.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

That's the idea I had with joining Facebook, but it hasn't driven traffic much for me. Maybe I'll try one of your ideas.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

Oh, and I love the book idea.

And I'm not just saying that. :-)

6:28 PM  
Blogger Michelle Gregory said...

L. L. - I'm trying the socialize it thing, not sure what subject I'd put up at Squidoo - maybe writing devotions.

Thanks for the info.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Real Live Preacher said...

Blog traffic is a mysterious thing. I came early and have never thought much about traffic. Then again, if you have 6 years of history with a blog, traffic can grow on its own. I hope it leads you where you want and need to go.

9:04 PM  
OpenID spaghettipie said...

Interesting - I'll have to give one of those things (at a time) a try. I noticed your squidoo site because it directed some traffic toward our writer's group blog (thanks!). And I really like the new book idea, too.

12:49 AM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

ESI, are you really type A? I don't believe it for a second.

Craver, Facebook is more about adding an additional distribution channel for your blog, I think. My experience with Facebook users (and other social networks) is that they tend to stay on Facebook. So theoretically, we could create Facebook tools that other people share that include our blog content on the pages themselves (rather than trying to get them to click away from facebook).

Socialize it is cool. I think I may have to look into that. And you know I like Squidoo... if I can just get over there to build a lens!

7:45 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Every Square... yes, please do let me know what you discover in your experiments (and remember, always wear goggles in the lab room ;-)

Llama... Marcus and I will definitely blog about things, though I may also just put up another Squidoo lens specifically about MH, so as not to overwhelm my Seedlings readership with thoughts of blog traffic and writers conferences. Thanks too for your encouragements about the book. Actually, it's a book I'll write with or without a contract. It's just in me and needs to make its way onto the page.

Craver... my webmaster sources say that Google likes people who have more links. So if it has to choose between you and the next guy, say, regarding how to take night photos, and the next guy has 9 links but you have 10 because of Facebook, then Google will drive the traffic to you. At least that's how I understand it.

Michelle... definitely Socialize! As for Squidoo, only do it if you have a very focused thing that would be easy for you to do. Something that's already a part of your regular repertoire. The idea of Squidoo is to drive traffic to other content that you produce along the same lines. So, for instance, my "Writing Like Annie Dillard" squidoo is linked to here. My "Happy Veggie" one is linked to Green Inventions. If these things take too much time and don't drive traffic to another destination, they won't be worth it for you.

Real Live... coming early is so important on the web! And longevity. You've got both. As far as where I need or want to go... I'm just having fun researching for these blog seminars. I realize I wouldn't bother with this stuff otherwise. The nice thing is it's producing a benefit though.

Spaghetti... if you have to try one, do the Socialize thing. And thanks for your thoughts on God in the Yard. It's been fun writing it, because I'm just writing exactly the way I want to.

Mark... oh, take your time with Squidoo. It's got to be easy and fun or you shouldn't bother. As for the Facebook question, I refer you to the comment to Craver above.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Christianne said...

Laura, you absolutely amaze me. You are quite the scientist in the lab, experimenting to see which things go POOF! :)

12:07 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

Oh my goodness. This is so helpful.
Thank you!!

9:53 PM  
Blogger everydayMOM said...

I realize that post was a year old, but just wanted to say, thanks for the info. Very interesting!

8:26 AM  

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