For regular readers of The Muffin there's no doubt the name Margo Dill rings familiar. Margo has been writing posts for The Muffin since 2007. She is also a WOW! columnist and contributing editor. In 2008 Margo launched her own blog, Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them which is a children's book blog with a unique twist, loyal followers and high ratings.
Margo will be sharing her knowledge and experience with us through her upcoming class Blogging 101 & More: Start a Blog, Make it Unique and Keep it Going which begins Monday, July 12th, 2010. If you want to start a blog or if you have a blog and want to know how to boost your ratings and drive traffic this class is for you; sign up is easy at WOW! Women on Writing: Workshops & Classes.
Margo is here with us today to offer a peak into what you will learn in the class...
Hi Margo, it is so nice to be chatting with you today. Let's start with the basics; one of the first places a person can get bogged down is in deciding which type of website to use. What are the differences between a free Wordpress.com or Blogger site and a hosted website as far as our ability to publicize and monetize our sites?
Margo: There shouldn't be any difference, really, except that when you have a free site, all the profit is yours! As far as publicizing goes, you would do the same things on a free Wordpress or Blogger site as you would for a hosted website. You would use social networking sites, comments on other blogs, your bio on articles, SEO Keywords, and so on to publicize your blog. As for monetizing, as long as you have the capability to put widgets or links on your "free" blog, you can monetize. Sometimes, it will depend on what template you choose as to what you can fit on your blog, and those are the kinds of questions we'll tackle in class.
Ah, there is more to a template than pretty colors (smile). With the question of functionality addressed, my next one is how to build readership. You have mentioned in your course description that for a blog to be successful the content should be unique and focused. Can you elaborate on that for us? How unique is "unique"?
Margo: There are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of blogs out there about a writer and her journey. "Here's my blog about how I am going to write a novel."Or "Here's my blog about being a stay-at-home mom while I write children's books." I don't mean to criticize anyone's blog, and many of these are successful. But these topics have been done and done again. When I started my site, I knew there were already many children's book review blogs. So I decided that whenever I featured a book, I would make my post different by including three take-away activities for parents, teachers, and librarians. I haven't found many blogs that review a book, provide a summary, and tell you how to use it with kids and teens. So, I made my blog unique.
So, having each post provide take-away or usable information the reader can apply to her own life is one way to stand out and build readership. You also mentioned guest blogging. What is "guest blogging" and how does it serve us?
Margo: Guest blogging is when you write a post for another blog or when someone else writes a post for you. You are a "guest" writer on the blog. Both ways benefit a blogger. When you guest blog on another blog, you're exposed to a whole new audience of readers, who may just want to click on over to your blog to see more words of wisdom from you. If you host a guest blogger, that's one less post you have to do that week. What will you do with that extra 30 minutes?
Great! We've found our niche, now we have this new blog up and going and we want to monetize it. How do we make a new blog with little following and low ratings look interesting to an advertiser, book seller or even to people we would like to interview?
Margo: When you start out a blog, the best way to monetize it is with established programs such as Amazon Associates, Google AdSense, or JuiceBox Jungle. Once I started my blog, posted regularly, and had better Alexa ratings, I had advertisers contact me. I have only worked with one of these because they paid a fair price and advertised a good product. But you won't get sponsors until you have traffic. Monetizing starts out slow and builds. To attract publishers, authors, or interview subjects, start with people you know. Everybody knows experts, and everybody has connections. So brainstorm! If you have a book blog, use the NEW section of the library until you can get books from publishers and authors. You have to be resourceful when you first start a blog, but you can do it. Lots of bloggers have!
It sounds like we're going to need to reach beyond the little readership we've gathered. How do we make ourselves more publicly visible?
Margo: Ah, the magic question is: how do I drive more traffic to my blog? That's one thing we will talk a lot about in class. How do I get my blog to show up on Google searches? SEO keyword knowledge is helpful, and I don't really teach it in class, but I can provide resources that can help a blogger. I will also talk about the SEO Tool Book you can download to your browser--it's a wonderful tool. We can touch on RSS Feeds and how to make those available to anyone who is interested in learning more about them. Then, there's just good old-fashioned hard work and networking. You make your blog visible by getting out there and letting people know about it, by exchanging information and links with other bloggers, and by getting on people's blogrolls. There are several ways to do it, and it just takes work!
You obviously have a lot of experience and resources to share. What can students expect to come away with from your class?
Margo: When students finish my class, they will know how to create a unique blog that is regularly updated with interesting posts and photos. They will also learn how to drive more traffic to their blogs, publicize them, and monetize them. They will also learn about ways to keep track of their traffic and to figure out which types of posts receive more views. This class will provide students an opportunity to work at their own pace with their own blog while asking questions that arise during their work. It also gives them a chance to connect with other bloggers who are taking the course and to bounce ideas off of one another.
All the resources we need to be up and running, feedback on our ideas and a ready group of potential guest bloggers and followers all in the course of five weeks...sounds perfect! Thank you, Margo, for offering us the peak preview.
Are your ready to take your blog to the next level? Read more about Margo's class, Blogging 101 & More, or sign up on our classroom page. Class size is limited so don't dilly-dally...sign up today.