There was a time in my life when I had fooled myself into believing that I was a better writer when I didn’t read. I believed that made my writing pure and unaffected by the opinions of others.
There may be some awesomeness in that, but it only covers up the laziness. I simply didn’t like making a routine out of reading the work of others.
That anti-strategy for a blogger simply doesn’t work in today’s world. The benefits of reading the opinions of others and engaging in their communities far outweighs any “purity” lost as a result.
The obvious reason to read is, Well, duh, you learn stuff. That’s true, smart guy. But the focus of this post is on the benefits of interacting with other bloggers and their communities on your own work.
Establish Name Recognition and Authority
I’m pretty much brand spanking new in the world of social media bloggers. I worked for the NBA for two and a half years and American Cancer Society for another two and a half in internet media, but my goal was never to establish myself as a social media authority. So I’m starting from scratch.
When I go into these blogs that are relevant to my own subject matter and begin providing my two cents, I start establishing myself as either A) a guy who knows what he’s talking about, or B) an amateur idiot who is trying too hard to fit in.
The goal is to look like I know what I’m talking about, of course. But you always have to remember you’re in someone else’s house. Don’t spam them with your own links (in fact, don’t share your links at all unless asked). Respond to the content of the blog post honestly and politely, adding value without taking attention away from the author. It’s not all about you.
My hope is that when I make my point, someone will think what I have to say is pretty okay. It doesn’t mean that they’ll immediately go to my blog, but they may recognize my name later.
Possibly the most valuable outcome is the establishment of a reciprocal relationship with the blogger. It’s nothing to be forced or even sought out. But through the course of participating in that blogger’s community and having a back and forth, it may be uncovered that there is common ground or common interest.
Whether it’s a big name or a relative smaller name, it doesn’t really matter. If it’s someone whose writing you respect, these can be valuable relationships. Bloggers have power. They may then read and recommend your work. Just as valuable, they may be willing to guest post or offer a guest post opportunity for you on their blog.
And as we bloggers in Pampers know, that type of activity is valuable for SEO. Whether I have my link on the blogger’s site or the blogger is bringing their audience to my site, there’s great potential for a jumpstart of a quality, though unknown, blog.
Again, I’m not talking about sharing your links or spamming comments. Don’t do that idiotic garbage.
But most blogs allow you to associate the URL of your site with your name. So when someone clicks on your name in a comment, it will go to your blog. That not only drives direct traffic, but will be picked up by search engine bots. It’s always good to have backlinks.
As I’ve been going through the respected blogs of people in this industry, I’ve discovered that almost all use one of two comment systems: 1) one that does not require registration, or 2) the Disqus commenting system (like on this blog). In either case, you can associate a website with your name.
Be Authentic and Casual
The key is to look at commenting on someone else’s blog like you’re showing up at their party. Be yourself. Feel free to show what you know, but remember to thank the host. It’s not your house or your party. These aren’t even your friends. Show some respect.
So don’t spam. Don’t show up the blogger. Don’t agitate or troll. Pretty much common sense stuff, but many people forget this as they try to blanket every website on the internet with their URL.
My Google Reader
I actually can’t even believe I just wrote that headline. I’ve never been a Google Reader guy. If I like a blog, I’ll bookmark it. Or I’ll stumble on it regularly because I follow the author on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
But I am determined to make reading, commenting and communing a part of my routine. To do this, I want to create a master list of blogs that I will frequent on a regular basis (since it’s a regular basis, I guess that would qualify as frequent).
So here it is. The master list. The list of lists. The best of the best social media blogs. Okay, it probably doesn’t have everything. But it’s a collection of both well known and not-so-well-known bloggers in social media and SEO. And they’re all quality.
What blogs are on your list?
Christopher S. Penn
Digital Brand Marketing Education
Just Ask Kim
Marketing Technology Blog
My Social Agency Blog
Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik
Online Marketing Blog
Search Engine Guide
Search Engine Journal
Search Engine Roundtable
Social Media Consultant
Social Media Explorer
Social Strand Media
The Anti-Social Media
The BrandBuilder Blog
The Sales Lion by Marcus Sheridan
The Social Media Marketing Blog
Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang