Genevieve is the founder of www.fossick.com, a niche travel site for Australia and New Zealand. A mum to two kids, she blogs about travel, customer reviews and the science behind user-generated content.
“Are you generous digitally?”
There is a small not well known secret as to why bloggers, especially mum bloggers are gaining such success over the newspapers.
What do you mean gaining success?
Newspapers thrive on audiences, they need you to buy/read the paper. They need sheer numbers, especially online. The greater the numbers, the unique visitors, the page views, the more they can charge for advertising.
But like many BritMums, you might have noticed that there’s been a swing from the brands, from the PR companies, to an interest in bloggers. These are the advertisers and they’ve noticed that the returns on traditional newspaper advertising are not that great. One of the key problems is that we’ve trained ourselves to ignore the advertising.
PR companies know this, which is why they work so hard for PR rather than advertising, a feature inside the article rather than beside it. That was great when it was all print, but in the online world look at any typical newspaper site, how many links do you see? It’s generally just in the ads. Stories might mention the brand, even the website, but they don’t link to it. Why? Because people follow links and that would draw them away from the site.
Links are the key reason that brands and PR companies are starting to approach bloggers. Yes, there is the SEO factor of links, which define authority and increase a site’s Google rankings, but they also work because we follow them.
What’s the secret?
The secret is that bloggers are generous with links; blogs are generally packed full of links. We link to the places we find our source material, to competitors and related sites, and to related posts. All these links allow our readers to follow their interests. It personalises the web for them.
How can I use this secret?
As a blogger, you need integrity. Don’t sell out to every PR agency offering you money or goods to write positively and link to them, because you’ll quickly lose your audience. However there is a place — a big place — for being generous with linking.
For a start, it tells Google what we like, what we value; those places are good sources of information and that benefits the collective “us” with less spammy search results, which by default means that the sites we link to also benefit. Linking to someone is like leaving a tip or a positive review. We should be actively investing and promoting great sites through our links.
Secondly, it gives you a distinct advantage over the newspapers. By linking to other sites and not clutching at your reader, you empower them. You subtly tell them, you have confidence in what you write, where your ideas come from and where to learn more. It empowers their discovery of new things and new sites, even new blogs. When we share and allow that natural discovery, people will love you for it. It makes them feel good, we put them in charge, with new material to chat about or share on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.
By being generous with your links, you win on three levels
1. You provide a community service and reward good sites.
2. You build your readership by personalising the web and allowing readers to follow what naturally interests them
3. You also create a currency that you can sell: your willingness to recommend and promote things you like — really like (the bread and butter of PR companies) — to an interested and niche audience.
It’s no wonder that the mum blogger (and dad blogger for that matter) is kicking butt.