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Getting your Blog To Work For You, Making the Most of it, Creating a Network, and Gaining Readers

It has been a while since I have posted a “Blog Tip” (previous ones on monetizing your blog) on Fire Critic. After speaking with other bloggers and hearing that some of them are reaching for readers and trying to comprehend the best ways of increasing readership I felt I would offer some tips.

These tips can be useful for any bloggers, although some of the tips might be catered to the crowd on the FireEMSBlogs.com network. I have been blogging in some form or another for the past 6 years. I have not learned it all, and I realize that best practices can be altered, discovered, or modified daily.

I will follow up with many more “blog tips” in the future. This is a beginner “blog tip” to get new bloggers rolling and some extra tips for others who are looking for that extra boost.

This article will focus on spreading the word to a larger audience and when, how, and why to write articles.

Writing articles

Be original!

  • Focus on your audience. Hopefully you have defined your audience. Obviously I have not!
  • Write at the frequency of your choice. Don’t make it a chore. The Happy Medic has said before that if he sits down and has to think real hard about what to write about he gets up and does something else. This is a good practice. Don’t force it.
  • Write about your readers…not yourself. Unless you blog in the format like IronFiremen.com, you should write about your readers. Most of them don’t want to hear about you. You can add your thoughts, but don’t make your blog all about you…nobody cares.
  • Create conversation. You want comments? Ask a question.
  • Write about controversial subjects. Not everyone is a STATter911.com or FireGeezer. However, you can still write about controversial subjects. Be sure to be clear if you are offering your opinion. Even if you merely write about a subject, whatever you write will be read as your opinion. I often write about stuff without offering my opinion until after the comments begin.
  • Follow up with your articles. If the commentary leads to more conversation you can write another post about the new information. Likewise, if you are writing about a news story be sure to follow up on any future news on that story.
  • Pictures and Videos - readers love watching videos and seeing pictures.
  • Limit your words – Many blog gurus have put a limit of words in a single post. I am not quite that strict on this. However, use as few words as you need to get your point across. Most readers scan the content, they go back and read verbatim if they see something that captures their attention.
  • Give Credit - if you use a photo or quote another blog be sure to give them credit and link to their content.
  • Share what you read after you write it….read on!

Sharing, Networking, and Social Media

There are numerous social mediums out there. Facebook and twitter are probably the most worthwhile.

Facebook – Fire Critic Facebook Fan Page

  • Facebook Fan Page - Create a facebook fan page for your blog! Utilize this fan page to connect with your fans. Facebook is the busiest site on the internet. People spend hours on facebook every day.
  • Networked BlogsNetworked blogs is an application on facebook that parses your rss feed from your blog to your facebook fan page. You can also post your articles directly from networked blogs to twitter. I don’t recommend this though, you are better off with twitterfeed…read on.
  • Follow the comments on Facebook. Be sure to follow your blog posts as they appear on facebook. The comments can take off before you know it and they don’t translate to comments on your blog (yet).
  • Make your Fan Page Known. Be sure everyone knows about your facebook fan page! Make the link easy to find and blog about your fan page!
  • Facebook Share and Facebook Like – install these plugins on your blog to make it easy for readers to share/like your articles on facebook.

Twitter - Follow @FireCritic

  • Twitter Username – Make your twitter username easy to remember for others and short! Twitter constrains you to 140 characters. You don’t want half of that to be your blog name if your blog has a long title. Chris Kaiser (Life Under the Lights) uses CKEMTP for everything. The branding of his username makes certain cohesion for people seeing his username on social media sites. He has created a brand others remember.
  • Syndicate on Twitter – Use TwitterFeed.com to syndicate your content from your blog to your twitter account. That way everyone gets your content as soon as you post it. Twitterfeed can also be used to send your content to facebook, but  I recommend using networked blogs for that.
  • Tweetmeme – install the tweetmeme plugin on your blog. This plugin offers your readers the ability to share your article on twitter easily.
  • Start Conversation – use twitter to create conversation about topics. Engage other users.
  • Follow other Twitter users – Follow other twitter users you are interested in. Don’t autofollow. I don’t do it and I think it is cheap. I follow the people I want to follow.
  • Retweet - Retweet others tweets that interest you. If you do it, they might return the favor. It is a cycle that people create by sharing others thoughts, and links.
  • Use hashtags – If you are a Fire Service blogger, use hashtags like #Fire and #Firefighter and #Firefighting. If you are EMS, use #EMS, #EMT, #Medic, and #Paramedic. They help! Some people follow hashtags to see what the latest news is on that topic!

Tricking out your blog

Ah, the age old question of what plugins, widgets, and other stuff you should add to your blog.

  • Social Media links - Be sure to have icons with links to your facebook fan page, twitter account, email, rss feed, and maybe more like firefighter nation account and jems connect account.
  • Tweetmeme, facebook share, and facebook like - make it easy for others to spread the word about your articles.
  • Related posts – using a related posts plugin in the bottom of all of your articles can provide more clicks to stories you have written in the past.
  • Copy other blogs - Don’t copy the content. If you see something you like, ask the blogger what it is and where you can get it!
  • Statistics – I recommend the very easy and free statcounter along with google analytics for following your stats!
  • All in One SEO – Search for this on WordPress Plugins and maximize the Search Engine Optimization of your blog easily.

Increasing Traffic

  • Link to other blogs – If you see an article that someone else wrote link to it. Write a small paragraph about it and offer the link. They will appreciate it and might do the same for you if they see something they like on your blog.
  • Syndication - Syndicate your blog on twitter, rss through feedburner, facebook, Firefighter Nation, Jems Connect, and other sites that will provide trackbacks and clicks to your content.
  • Tags and Categories – Especially on FireEMSBlogs.com, but also very useful elsewhere. Take the extra minute to tag your articles appropriately (look at all the tags on this article). Likewise, utilize categories to properly place your articles in respective groupings. You would be amazed at how much traffic you can get from tags/categories being properly used.

Again, this is a list of things to do for the beginner blogger as well as some extras for those who are looking for an extra boost.

Check back in the future for more tips!

What do you have to add?

What works for you?

What doesn’t work?

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Comments - Add Yours

  • chiefreason

    Man, I wish I had a Facebook Fan page.
    You raise some interesting food for thought.
    If only I was capable of writing shorter blogs.
    I rarely use photos and have never included video in over 200 blog articles since FirefighterNation began. I have many more that date back to 2001.
    I hope I have a following out there somewhere.
    If not, then I am consoled by the therapy that it provides for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Great advice! I’m kind of lost when it comes to promoting my blog, I have a facebook page but not a fan page, I think I have a Twitter account but don’t know what to do with it. I’ll be back to pick your brain.

  • Dave LeBlanc

    Funny I have all the rest of that crap………but I like my home.

  • Hdf561

    I really do not know what works and what doesnt….I was already thinking about getting a Facebook fan page, and twitter for the blog but I do not know. I am so against both of those outlets.

    I just write what I feel. The whole reason I started it is because I felt like I had something to say. Sure I would like it to grow as big as it can but like the Chief said even if no one reads it makes me feel good to get my thoughts, and opinons out there. I just started using video and that seems to help. I simply to not have the money to “trump” up my page, so I let it ride as is…also it would help if I was more computer savy.

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