Whether your goal is to promote your blog for its own sake or whether the blog is just a means to promote something else, ultimately success depends on getting enough eyeballs, and the right eyeballs, looking at your site. A Problogger Reader Quick Tip from the guys at Free Money Finance has this to say about getting those eyeballs:
If I had to pick one tip to give new and aspiring bloggers, it would be this: participate in blog carnivals.
That says something about the power of blog carnivals – done right.
So what is a carnival post done right? The place to start is before you ever hit the send button on a carnival email or the submit button on a carnival submission form. In fact, you need to start before you even consider what carnival to submit to. The place to start is writing a great blog post. The great blog post will get the attention of the carnival host, which can mean better position in the carnival. This is vital in the big ones that can have dozens of links. It may even bring a personal endorsement from the host. The great blog post will get readers to return to see what else you’ve written; it’s more likely to get readers to hit that field of “Subscribe” and “Add to” buttons that’s been sitting useless at the side of a dead blog.
So what are some things to consider when writing that great blog post to send to all your favorite carnivals?
- Have a goal
- Know the topic
- Add something to the conversation
- Be concise
- Have a hook
Blogging Blog suggests that having a clear goal and a clear topic is “the differentiating [factor] between a good post and a great post.” The goal may be to provoke thought, ask a question or start a conversation. In that case, knowing your topic may simply mean understanding what it is that you want to learn. The goal may be to educate or persuade your readers. In that case, knowing your topic means demonstrating a degree of expertise your readers will find convincing (and not misleading them in the process!).
The great topic and great goal are important, but a great post also needs to add something to the conversation. There are a lot of blogs out there that provide a link and a terse comment. There are perhaps even two great ones that do that. But those exceptions prove the rule that the most interesting writers have something original to contribute. If your post aggregates without adding or worse yet merely plagiarizes with a link, it won’t qualify as a great post, won’t impress blog hosts and won’t invite blog readers to return to your blog. At best, you may encourage those readers to revisit the place that you link to.
Be concise. I hate to drag this point out too much. ;) Don’t use five words where one will do and don’t use jargon or slang when plain English is available. (Or plain Spanish, Farsi, Korean or Hindi.) Carnivals are the center of the ADHD universe we call the blogospere. You have maybe 5 seconds to catch the reader’s attention and once you have it you’ll be lucky to keep it for more than a few minutes. Write with those times in mind. Have I lost you yet?
Have a hook. Give the blog host a reason to recommend you, the reader a reason to read and all of them reason to believe your blog will be worth visiting again later. John Palmer peppers the posts on his eclectic economics blog, EclectEcon, with a quirky, sarcastic humor that makes the “dismal science” considerably less gloomy as in this two line interview with a BBC employee. Consider the goal of your blog and your post when setting your hook. The hook may be humor, it may be great information, it may be irreverence or even outright controversy. You need to not just add something to the conversation, but to add something that enhances the conversation, more than just a blogger’s “Me too.”