If you’ve been writing your blog for a little while, happy with your blog posts and content ideas, but are thinking of ways to grow your blog & community… here are some ideas for you to grow your readership, work with local brands and increase your SEO. While there are plenty of resources out there, I’ve gathered some that resonate with me… with the idea that I’ll share here and there with potential bloggers as well as established bloggers here in Shanghai.
As I mentioned, in starting this blog, I’m running some workshops and consultations about writing online and blogging here in Shanghai. The first workshop was part of M on the Bund‘s LitFest in November, and we’ll kick off the 2016 sessions at the March LitFest… I’ll have more details on that later.
But first, 3 Ideas for Bloggers in Shanghai, so let’s look at ‘Building a Community’ first…
Personally, through my radio work, I’ve always aimed to be engaging & informative (and educating!), open and always ‘resetting’ the story to include everyone. Telling stories for radio audiences, who may switch on the radio at any time, means you’re keeping everyone informed about what’s going on at different intervals through the day. Setting context, establishing guests and ideas again and again. Often when I read blogs for the first time, I’m always thinking ‘who is this?’ or ‘what’s happening here?’ because as someone ‘new’ to the story, you kind of want to know what’s happening otherwise you might click somewhere else… and away from the potential new friend/blogger!
Very simply, you often have to say the same things in many different ways again and again… because new readers come along ALL the time, and filling them in on what you do, who you are, and what’s going on. That’s why the ‘About Me’ or any information about establishing what the blog is about is really important.
My idea with building a community in radio is to take note of your audience, talk to them, follow up ideas from the audience (i.e. your readers!) and definitely the most popular blog way is to chat about something and then ask a couple of questions that will help get comments (lots of people bold this at the end of their posts) … and this is a ‘callback’ in radio, you establish what you want to talk about, and chat a bit, and then ponder:… “I wonder if you’ve been in this situation?”… you can get ideas from your community this way and follow up…
Definitely going to ‘find your tribe’ is another way to set out and join established communities online and casually connect with people that way. The sewing community has been a very fun network for me, everyone loves seeing new content (the clothing you’ve made) and people love seeing your skills grow… so I join in to other communities and people end up following mine.
Further reading on ‘Building a Community’, could include:
7 Ways to Create Community for Your Blog – The Blog Market’s tips
How to Build Your Blogging Community – A Savoury Feast suggests a few ideas. One thing I’d note here is that your blogging community might start to become your blogging readers if you become too ‘exclusive’ with your blog posts.
Now, what about ‘Working with Brands Locally’, and it’s a tricky one mostly because we’re writing in English, we’re foreigners in China, and maybe most of our existing audience is outside of China.
Pretty much, establishing what your blog is about and sticking to it, will help you when you approach with brands… being clear on what you write about, and then knowing what your community likes will help you point towards the right brands. Small businesses do not have a lot of time, so a friendly connection with a blogger might be a great way to get some influence and increase their brand but there are a lot of bloggers and you want to get their attention quickly & clearly with what you’re about.
We’re living in Shanghai, and there’s a number of ways to seek out local companies and check in with brands about partnerships or affiliations. For example, how I’ve seen blogs in Shanghai connect, Nancy from Plus Ate Six has a relationship with Fields the Online Grocery Store … Jennifer from Adventurous Appetite is writing for City Weekend… I’m running blog workshops with M on the Bund’s literary festival.
Be clear on communicating about your blog’s audiences, and create a list of companies who might get something out of you writing about them. It might be cash, or in kind products, but everyone likes the clicks and community! Oh and there’s always affiliations online, and ways to get connected there… Google Ads might not be the best in China, but there’s a new program called Monetize Your Influence through Bloglovin’s Activate. I’d also like to add that Heather at Closet Case Files has really great *clear* honest chit chat about entrepreneur-ing on her blog and has a really great post on ways to monetize your blog.
Oh! Get involved in Shanghai Blogger’s Community! Volunteering to run a social event and joining in can help establish relationships.
Also, The Blog Maven writes some great steps for Working with Brands.
And the very variable: ‘SEO’
It is very easy to think “oh yes SEO, must looking into that” and then never really ‘get’ why… or even give it a go. You’ll see very popular blogs really get into it… but some others not and still get high up on the search engine results. To begin with SEO is Search Engine Optimisation (Optimization – if you’re in the USA! I’m sure Google recognises both ways of spelling, but it’s interesting to me the US domination of spelling words – especially with hashtags – as that’s another thing to consider if you’re based outside of the USA) and there’s many many many ways to get on Google’s front page and probably a bunch of others to get high up there on Bing!
OK, so my main thoughts on this is that you just should link a lot to your own site. Backlinks I’ve seen them called. It’s also chatty way to include a link in ‘last week I talked about this’ or ‘Thanks for your feedback on this’, but linking to your own site and the various blog posts or pages will be very helpful. Doing your anchor links and backlinks, can help get people around your blog and it can also help them understand you a lot more.
I am so interested to read that last year Google has found most of us are searching on our mobile devices, so this might mean things are getting even more simpler than the old desktop search. So it’ll definitely be good to have a read of these resources below, to see where you can get your blog visible:
The 10 Basics for Blogging Search Engine Optimisation – by The Blog Tyrant – and I link to this because it’s a few months old, and these things change a lot.
6 Easy Strategies for Blog SEO – by Wishpond.
How to Increase Blog Traffic – by Wordstream.
Bing Yahoo Google! – A quick compare of the three search engines (Bing is a good one when Google doesn’t work in China – or Baidu!) that could need an update for 2016, but a good start.
And I’d love to hear your thoughts, are there other ways to optimise your blog in search engines here in China? Are there some other good networks in China for bloggers?!
Get in touch, but for now: PHEW! Lots of text! I need to return to sewing for a screen break!