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If You Build It, Will They Come? (Part 4 on Blogging)

red bullhorn

If you decide to start a blog for yourself or your organization, part of your strategy should include blog promotion. How and where you promote your blog are key elements in engaging your readers to comment, subscribe, and share your messages.

To learn more about blog marketing and promotion, we continue our conversation this week with Paul Twitchell from AIDS Action Committee’s blog Exit Disclaimer and Dr. David Wessner, Professor at Davidson College, of The AIDS Pandemic blog Exit Disclaimer. We’re also joined by James Daugherty, author of the HIV and AIDS News blogExit Disclaimer, and we’ll share our own blog promotion experiences at AIDS.gov.

Be Relevant

Creating meaningful and relevant content is one of the most important ways to get people to read and subscribe to your blog. Everyone we spoke to commented on the importance of being authentic. As James told us, “My best advice would be to blog about what you want,” he said. At AIDS.gov, we strive to create relevant content by consistently checking in with our readers, monitoring their comments and feedback, and responding with meaningful material. Our readers told us they wanted to hear more HIV/AIDS-specific new media examples. We responded by including this perspective in every post.

Make Sure People Can Find your Blog

Here are some recommendations from our colleagues and the AIDS.gov blog team on how to make your blog visible:

  • Promote your blog on your organization’s website with a prominent link to the blog.
  • Include your blog URL in all print materials. (It may be worth using a dedicated postcard mailing or handout to promote your blog launch.)
  • If you have a newsletter (online or off), announce the blog launch in your newsletter and then include a blurb about it with the blog URL in every subsequent issue.
  • Mention your blog during interviews.
  • Share the URL with your peers in other organizations and invite them to let their audiences know about it.
  • Identify established bloggers with an affinity for your subject matter, and invite them to write about and link to your blog. (If appropriate, you might also invite them to guest post on your blog.)
  • Offer readers a way to subscribe to your blog by e-mail or an RSS feed.

“We also use some traditional search engine optimization (SEO) Exit Disclaimer techniques to make sure we are showing up where we want to,” said Paul. SEO is a process that helps improve your website’s ranking on search engines, such as Google and Yahoo! Our own SEO efforts include using Google AdWordsExit Disclaimer , using keywords (we’ll write more about this in a future post). James evaluates the success of his marketing efforts by checking where he ranks on Google (right now, his blog is the third Google result for blogs with HIV news).

Photo of Three Davidson College students

Davidson College students

Google results are not important for every blogger. Because David Wessner’s AIDS Pandemic blog and podcasts are primarily course projects, he’s not as concerned with promoting them. “I encourage my students to tell their friends about the blog. I’ve talked about it at conferences, within the context of using blogs in the classroom. It’s been fun to see The AIDS Pandemic get mentioned by a few different groups (like AIDS.gov), but obtaining a large number of subscribers has not been one of my goals.”

Build Community

Part of promoting a blog is making sure it is accessible to everyone. If your organization’s policy allows, and has the infrastructure to moderate them, we recommend that you enable comments.

When we asked Paul how AAC promotes their blog, he told us they used traditional marketing methods when they first launched it. “We issued a press release and we featured links to recent posts prominently on our homepage.” Since then, they have developed relationships with other AIDS-related blogs and occasionally cross-post on their blogs–so their promotion has moved online.

It is also important to become an active participant in the blogosphere. The AIDS.gov team contacts all the people who are mentioned on this blog and encourages them to leave a comment. We join the conversation by developing relationships with others who blog about new media and/or HIV/AIDS.

Conferences are another way to share information about your blog. For example, in a few weeks, we’ll be presenting about our blog at the CDC’s National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media.

Keep Learning

We continue to learn from our colleagues, like Paul, James, David, and YOU. And when it comes to promotion, we are inspired by posts like Problogger’s If You Were Starting Out in Blogging from Scratch – How Would You Promote Your Blog? Exit Disclaimer and Chris Brogan’s Growing Your Audience – Some Basics Exit Disclaimer. In addition, search-this.com Exit Disclaimer has a helpful series of four articles that cover various aspects of how to promote your blog.

Do you have your own blog promotion tips? Or advice for bloggers? Leave us a comment to let us know!

Next week we’ll be writing from AIDS 2008–XVII International AIDS Conference Exit Disclaimer in Mexico City and we’ll be Twittering from there. To find and follow us on Twitter, visit: http://twitter.com/AIDSbooth Exit Disclaimer

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Comments

  1. I’ll say its 50/50. Unless you have experience with it or you are someone from the medical field or have an authoritative in the subject, then you’ll get visitors.
    HIV/AIDS is a complex subject and you cannot write simple content on it. And as far as HIV/AIDS is concerned, readers favour trustworthy sources and not from any tom-dick-and-harry AIDS blogs.

  2. My uncle has aids. Trying to get him to talk about it is like pulling teeth.

  3. It is not easy to talk about it with other people. I tried to talk to my friend, was my best friend. She seems to be….very very very uncomfortable when i tried to bring up the subject.. oh well..

  4. Most people do not want to talk about AIDS, most of them are ashamed of it, We need to educate more people about AIDS so they are more open to talk about it.

  5. Very true, but people do shy away from the subject. It’s time for more change.

  6. This topic has surely been a complex one. In india people are so “aargh” that they tend to keep the Aids patient secluded. They are humans too. Aren’t they. They have been suffering with a disease thats it. why shud they be secluded from the society.
    Also most of the AIDS victims are found in the slums and pros. So it is necessary to educate them first. Many famous personalities have raised their voice against the issue. Its time there is more action into it than just words.

  7. So many good ideas in this article. Also remember to target your blog to a specific and popular keyword search people use. Over time your site will rank higher in Google and get loads more traffic.

  8. I believe I would write a ton of articles about HIV and AIDS then submit them to article directories with a link in the footer. The biggest thing to remember while writing and distributing articles is that you want to create a hook, that will make the reader want to click the link and learn more!
    I also use a custom Google search engine that only contains dofollow blogs, that way I can write comments and receive great relevant one-way links!
    Through writing comments I have noticed that I am gaining a ton of new subscribers, and other webmasters are starting to show lots of link-love because they appreciate my input!
    Although, when your writing comments make sure that you don’t get lazy just posting a bunch of links on other peoples hard work “Their Blogs” it just isn’t going to help you and you will just be burning your bridges!
    Instead of looking at every blog as free advertisement space, think about what all you could achieve if that webmaster was a friend of yours!
    Thanks for the great read,
    Justin

  9. Thanks for the great suggestions. I am starting a blog on child safety focused on helping parents prevent the accidental death of babies and children under 5. This is a vulnerable group that needs our help and I can use all the help I can get to get the word out. Thanks so much! Mags @ child safety

  10. I think we all know someone that has been affected by Aids. I personally have, my cousin passed away around 8years ago from complications due to the virus. Medicine has came along way over the years but there is always room for improvement.

  11. Thanks for this discussion. I have started a medical blog not too long ago. It’s great to learn how professionals like you get the word out.

  12. It does not touch home until it affects you. I lost my brother and his wife to AIDS and that is when it truly had meaning and got me involved in the process of eradicating this terrible disease.