I remember when I first started blogging.
In fairness, I should – it was only 376 days ago (to be precise). Even my memory isn’t that bad. Before then, I had barely even read a blog, let alone created my own.
So it was fair to say that I faced a steep learning curve, and I have learned an enormous amount over the past year or so. I would now consider myself a competent blogger, with a relatively well-trafficked blog, and a loyal following of truly awesome people.
But I digress. My point is this – my approach to blogging at the beginning was well and truly backwards. That is in spite of the fact that building a successful blog is not actually difficult – you just need to know what you’re doing.
In this article I want to focus on a much-neglected area of blogging that leads to long-term growth, and the reasons as to why you should give it far more attention.
You may be wondering what my reference to “smallfry” means.
It’s quite simple – smallfry are those bloggers who are broadly at or around your level. Those who are also working hard on building up a modest audience. I don’t use the word smallfry in a demeaning sense – I am in fact intending to highlight the way in which a lot of startup bloggers view their peers (i.e. as not worth getting to know).
When I first started blogging, my first idea was to reach out to a-list bloggers, in the hope that I would get noticed. Here’s the problem with that approach though – a-listers do not have time to help and nurture every single startup blogger that fires them off a quick email. They get multiple messages from such people every day – it’s just not possible to cater to them all, regardless of how well-intentioned the blogger is. Furthermore, they have a reputation to protect – the last thing they want to do is link to a new blogger who might be gone next week.
You have to earn relationships with the big boys over an extended period of time. You have to establish yourself, provide great content, and prove that you are not a fly-by-night blogger.
So please, forget about the a-listers for now, and focus instead on what will really drive your blog’s success – establishing relationship with other bloggers at or around your level.
You may be wondering why I think reaching out to “smallfry” is going to benefit your blog. Well, there are actually several reasons. Let’s take a look at each one in turn.
This one is pretty straightforward – you network with other bloggers, they read your content, and if you’re doing something right, they link to you.
In my humble opinion, link building is a really bad idea for bloggers. Especially when you can transfer that time spent on black hat tactics to establishing the kind of natural relationships that will lead to organic links in time.
Whilst one little link from one little blog may not seem like much, they add up over time, which ultimately leads to an enormously diverse link portfolio (which Google of course loves).
2. Direct Traffic
Sure – small blogs aren’t going to send you a tidal wave of traffic, but they will send you some. And if you get mentioned in enough different places, you will see a similar benefit to that of the links for SEO purposes – the traffic will build up into something more substantial over time.
If you check out the traffic sources of almost any blog, you will see that they are extraordinarily diverse. Referrals can come from literally thousands of different places – there is very rarely a “big win” blog that consistently sends them an enormous cascade of traffic. Every fresh link you get from another blogger represents another step towards building a consistent traffic stream.
Who knows where your relationships may lead?
The more people you know, the greater chance you have of meeting some really interesting people. It’s a simple numbers game at the end of the day.
You should never try to assume how knowing a particular person will benefit you, because ultimately, you can’t predict it. Fruitful relationships can arise from the unlikeliest of sources.
If you network with enough likeminded bloggers, chances are that you will become acquainted with at least one person who will go on to become big. So don’t be shortsighted – give yourself the best possible chance of being an early friend of future a-listers.
Not only that, those links to your site (and the traffic that they drive) will only increase in value as your fellow bloggers become more authoritative.
5. Brand Exposure
One thing most startup bloggers don’t fully appreciate is their brand. How it often takes repeated exposure to a blog for someone to finally take more than a passing interest.
The more places your blog is seen, the more likely you are to convert one-time visitors into long-term subscribers. You want to get to that sweet spot where new readers are contacting you, saying “I’ve seen your name everywhere!” That same person probably wouldn’t have emailed you if they’d only seen your name once or twice.
So the logic is simple – the more people you know, the more links from diverse sources you are likely to gain, the better your brand is exposed.
Do You Know Enough Smallfry?
So now you must ask yourself the vital question – have you been reaching out to enough fellow bloggers in an attempt to establish mutually beneficial relationships? Have you approached such people with a genuine desire to help them? Do you treat each person with the consideration and respect that they deserve? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!
Image © Laurentiu Iordache – Fotolia.com