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Monday, July 3, 2006

Website Promotion Strategies For Writers And Bloggers

You can't argue with these figures. This month I had 843 unique visitors to doublehdesign.com (200 more than when I wrote about this in January). I had 17,000+ hits (only a small increase) and I had nearly a 50% increase in page views (to more than 10,000). This month I've also had a few emails a week from the contact form on my site and people have seen my stuff and contacted me about work. So I must be doing something right. The trouble is, when you throw everything at a problem, it can be hard to know which one has worked best. Here's what I did. I hope following these steps will help you promote successfully too.

1. Choose A Domain Name

I bought my domain name almost a year before I was ready to do anything with it. That was one area where I made a mistake, going for a name that captured what I thought I wanted to do. Doublehdesign is ok, but SharonHurleyHall.com would have been better. I've bought the other one now, but I've put a lot of effort into promoting doublehdesign, so I'll have to be creative in how I promote the other one. If you are blogging, choose the name of your blog carefully. Although you may be able to change it later, any links that you have promoted may show up as broken if you change the name (this happens on WritingUp). This will not help with site traffic.

2. Create A Website

I set up my site. This was quite simple when it started. There was a home page, a bio/cv/resume page, a ghostwriting page, a writing samples page and a contact form. This was enough to get me going. It was simple and I added the bells and whistles such as my photo, links pages, a sitemap and google ads later. I added one page a week to my site for about four months. I updated at least one page every week or two. If you're blogging, add at least a couple of posts a week.

3. Promotion By Adding A Blog

I added a blog in November. This was a good move, because that's when my traffic really started to increase. However, a month later, I got addicted to blogging at WritingUp, so it might have been just as easy to use a WritingUp feed on my site, with links back to the site whenever possible. This is a strategy several WritingUp bloggers use effectively.

4. Submit To Google, Yahoo, MSN

I submitted my site and blogs to Google, Yahoo and MSN. I also submitted my site to DMOZ, where it's been listed at last after nearly a year. Then I submitted to other appropriate directories. The difficulty with this is that there was rarely a category that matches exactly what your site or blog is about. Some directories listed writers' sites as personal, others as business, still others as arts. I just picked a category and hoped for the best. This added to my search engine hits and to my traffic. I submitted my blog to blog directories of all sorts. First of all I went for those that did not require a linkback, then I targeted a few that did. Traffic to my blog soon surpassed traffic to the main site. A word of warning, though. Sometimes you can get submit-happy and submit to sites that will bring traffic that you don't want. I don't think it's a coincidence that a month after doing an accidental mass submit to sites around the world, I got traffic from sites looking to sell Viagra, Tramadol and more.

5. Promotion By Writing For Free

One of my best promotion techniques was writing for free. I wrote free articles for EzineArticles.com, GoArticles.com, ArticleMarketer.com, ArticleBlast.com, SubmitYourNewContent.com and many others. These are the ones that have resulted in the most links back to my site. EzineArticles is the one that had the quickest results. Two of my articles got picked up by freelancewriting.com and I consistently get 10 or more hits a month from this site. I also wrote reviews on Dooyoo.co.uk, ciao.co.uk and Epinions.com. This allowed me to practice writing, earn some pennies, show some versatility and develop my writing voice. Again, many of these turn up all over the web.

6. Finding Opportunities Through Blogging

I signed up with freelance job agencies, looked on craigslist and looked at other job listings. These brought some work, but blogging has been even more fruitful. It was on WritingUp that I first heard about InspiredAuthor, Blogitive, Lifetips, IFreelance and other sites which are now the backbone of my freelance writing life. Taking time to read other blogs paid off in a way I could not have predicted.

7. Promotion By Exchanging Links

More recently, I have done link exchanges with writing sites, joined a writing web ring and changed my site template to be more seo-friendly. I am now getting more visits than ever. Figures for the year to date are nearly 4000 unique visitors, about 54,000 page views and about 86,000 hits. The figures were skewed slightly by the Viagra-Tramadol brigade in February. I have also used, social bookmarking, tagging and pinging.

8. Promotion Through Keywords, Tagging And Pinging

I'm also trying a new strategy. I look to see what people have been searching for (or in the case of my blog, which ads appear on the days I make most money) and then I blog about that topic again. I haven't done this on writingup yet, but I have done it on my other blog. It's too early to say how that will turn out. I do use keywords in my blog posts, though. If you want your blog to be known for a particular subject, research the keywords, use them in your blog, and use them as tags. If you look through my blog, you'll find that tags on the early posts are all over the place, while tags on recent posts are much more focused.

9. Promotion: Keep Updating

Believe it or not, when I started my promotion efforts, I didn't know much about what I was doing. I read, learned and tried new ideas, discarding the ones that didn't seem to work for me. Now that I know more about what I'm doing, it's time to look at my site and blog again and see how they could be improved. Some of the pages need some work on keywords; others need to be split into two. Of course, I'm so busy writing now that I have less time to spend on promotion, but I know I've got to keep up my website promotion efforts to keep the ball rolling. I hope some of these strategies work for you.

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