On bloggers and self-promotion, or the art of commerce
I guess there are several basic premises I've come to around the discussion and I thought it would be easier to put them here instead of limiting myself to 140 characters--which I can't even do when I'm discussing Rock of Love let alone marketing.
Ads are fantastic! Buy ads for your blog. Do banner trades with friends. Make postcards about your website at the local copy shop and hand them out at kids events. Stencil your blog name on the sidewalk and carve it into trees. Do barter for space in your preschool auction program. Sign up for blogrolls and blogrings and blogcovens or whatever else is out there these days.
Heck, rent the Goodyear blimp. If you want to tell the world about your blog, then go for it.
You are not your blog. When you're getting the word out, you need to think really hard about whether what you're promoting is your blog, or whether you're using your blog to promote yourself.
That distinction is everything.
Business cards are not ads. Ads are designed to reach many people. Business cards are designed to start relationships. When you throw business cards with your name and contact info on it around the coffee shop, the zoo, or the proctologist's office, it looks amateur at best.
You could argue an exception for people offering personal services - guitar lessons, house painting, exotic pet grooming. Even so, has anyone here ever gone with a tax accountant who pinned his card up on a bulletin board at the community center? Eek.
Business cards as a form of advertising do not offer a good return on your investment. Save them for people you actually meet and hand them out to people who actualy want them. Because the person making the most money off your cards is most likely to be the manager of Kinkos.
Add a little art to your commerce. Cutting through the clutter isn't just about SEO, it's about creativity. Something tells me that if Jenny the Bloggess created a t-shirt to promote her blog it would be worth wearing. Then soon after, everyone would be wearing t-shirts to promote their blogs and you'd need to do one that really stands out. Or better yet, don't do a t-shirt. Do branded pasties.
(And with that, I've probably just become the top google hit for "branded pasties." Awesome.)
Don't be cheesy. However you self-promote, do it with class, dignity, and pride. It's not enough to be proud that you're promoting, be proud of how you're promoting.
The converse of my original statement is true too: Nothing kills a great product faster than bad advertising.
The blogworld is not closed to new members, or even new superstars. I know that it may seem like there are a whole lot of blogs and it's hard to get heard above the noise. But Finslippy came after Dooce. Motherhood Uncensored came after Finslippy. The Pioneer Woman came after MU. The Wind in Your Vagina came less than a year ago and it's freaking hilarious and gets damn near 100 comments on every post. Surely there's some incredibly brilliant mom blog that started this very week that is rockeing to stratospheric popularity as we speak.
But I still stand by my original premise that content is king. Put more of your energy into writing well and being relevant to your audience and they will spread the word for you. Now this doesn't mean the best bloggers always rise to the tippy top or that there aren't some lame bloggers that get decent enough traffic. Life isn't always fair that way.
Which brings me to my last thought.
For every rule there's a brilliant exception. Which means all of the above may be total BS. In which case...carry on.