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It’s time for another blogging tips post. This is where I pretend to be some experienced blogger and pass on some wisdom. The truth is, I’ve only been blogging for about a year now. With over a decade of website marketing under my belt, I do have some knowledge to share.

Besides marketing knowledge, I feel that I’ve learned a lot during my first year of blogging. I may still have a lot to learn, but you might as well learn from other people’s successes and failures.

Check out some of the previous posts from this series:

Now for this week’s blogging tip…

Learning From Mexican Merchants – Don’t Be A Passive Blogger

While recently in Mexico on vacation I couldn’t help but notice a huge difference with how merchants operated compared to here in Vancouver. In the majority of stores in Canada and the US, merchants sit inside their stores waiting for customers to come to them. The merchants in Mexico provided a sharp contrast, at least where I was visiting anyway. Most of the merchants there were out on the sidewalk talking to tourists walking by, trying to draw them into their stores.

They tried different approaches, ranging from friendly to creepy to outright aggressive. The key was that they were forcing you to notice them and their store. You couldn’t just walk by and completely ignore them. Even if you’re replying ‘no, gracias’, they’re making an impression on you. Most likely you’re turning your head to look at them while replying. Then there right behind them you get a quick glimpse of what they’re selling. If their approach is convincing enough, they might draw you into their store rather than casually window shopping as you pass by.

It makes you wonder why merchants in Canada and the US rarely employ similar strategies. Instead they just rely on their storefront displays to draw people in if they are genuinely interested. They don’t seem to care about making an effort with the people who need any kind of convincing. It seems it’s only the kiosks in the middle of the malls that use this strategy here.

Being the blogger that I am, I got thinking about how this same kind of situation exists with bloggers.

Bloggers Being Too Passive

A lot of novice bloggers just sit inside their ‘stores’ waiting for ‘customers’ to wander in. Worse yet, when they start their blogs their ‘store’ is on the outskirts of town with very little traffic passing by. Just like in Field of Dreams, they’re living by the “If You Build It, They Will Come” mentality. How long are you going to sit back waiting for traffic?

With blogging it isn’t simply a matter of writing quality content and sitting back waiting. That’s fine and dandy if you are just writing a personal blog to share experiences with your family and friends. If you are trying to build up a successful blog and potentially make money, there’s a little thing called marketing.

For one reason or another a lot of new bloggers are a little hesitant to fully pursue marketing. They might simply be too shy. They might not realize the importance of it. Or sometimes they are just too stubborn to change their strategy.

How Bloggers Can Market More Aggressively

Like the merchants I came across in Mexico, bloggers need to actively get themselves in front of potential visitors. The more people you can get your name or URL in front of, the better your chances of scoring a subscriber.

The easiest way to go about this is to comment on a lot of blogs regularly. That way you’ll get noticed by other bloggers and people who read blogs. The approach you take with those comments will affect what kind of results you get from it. Leave brief, low quality comments and few people will be interested in checking out your site. Leave interesting or insightful comments and a lot more people will notice.

The next way is to get mentioned by others on social media. This is where it is extremely helpful to have a strong network of contacts. If you’re close enough with bloggers, they might share your posts on their own or they might agree to a direct request. If you sit back and wait for mentions on social media, you might have to wait a lot longer. So don’t be afraid to be more proactive about it.

Even better, try to get linked to from other blogs. Then when you’re attracting direct visitors you’re also helping your search engine rankings. Mentions within a post’s content can deliver substantially more traffic too. On some blogs you might benefit even more by getting on their blogroll since that is on their sidebar or always 1 click from their homepage. Take a chance and make the request via e-mail, but be aware that you’ll have better results when you ask existing contacts and when your blog is more developed.

That is scratching the surface of ways you can get more exposure for your blog. Beyond that look into blog carnivals, directories, blogger lists, etc. As you build up more exposure, search engines will take notice and all of those mentions will contribute to your search engine rankings. Before you know it, your efforts snowball to the point that traffic keeps coming in even when putting in minimal effort.

If you want your blog to grow and someday make money, try thinking of your blog more as a business. Would you be taking the passive approach if it was a physical business?

For all the bloggers out there, how aggressive do you feel you are with your marketing?

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