What 40k Shares Taught Me About Blogging
Before jumping head first into blogging here for my website design studio, I ran a travel blog for 2 years. Rather I should say I wrote a 'I don't know what the hell I'm writing about, this is stuff I like' blog for 1 year and then narrowed to write a travel blog the next.
(All new bloggers do it. Narrowing focus and niching is a lesson we all must learn with time.)
As any blogger begins to notice, some blog posts receive crickets while others receive a roar of attention. I enjoyed having a number of posts shared thousands upon thousands of times. I'm going to let you in on what I took away from my most shared post.
40,300 shares as of mid August 2016 to be precise.
It was a post about sorority paddle designs. (I wasn't joking that I literally wrote about anything that popped into my head in the beginning).
I'll break it down to the two most important lessons, along with lots of details on how this info can help you and your blog.
However, before we go any further, we need to get clear on shares.
Shares are the highest form of blog love.
Shares aren't a count such as page views, where people show up to your post and may or may not stick around for a while to read the entire thing.
When someone shares, they love that post. They find it helpful and they want to share your stuff to say 'I'm all about this' to all their social media friends/frenemies.
Lesson 1: Be Where Your Audience Is
Let the Where's Waldo blog reader hunt begin.
This post did extremely well because I shared it in places that those interested in the posts would be.
Ground breaking right?
It's such common sense, but ask yourself, when you hit publish on your latest post, did you go hunt down your ideal reader and get it in front of them? Or did you post to your current followers on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram saying 'new stuff is live!' and leave it at that?
So of course my target reader for my sorority paddle design post would be sorority girls. Let's think, where would a sorority girl hang out online?
Mostly sorority girls hang out on Pinterest, Facebook and TotalSororityMove.com.
So where did I share my post? To Pinterest boards, my own as well as college-centred group boards with massive followings. I also shared my post and pins with those who had large followings of sorority girls on Pinterest.
I shared it to Facebook groups loaded with thousands of sorority girls (This Is Not A Cooler But, Sorority Connection, etc.).
The one thing I could have done to push the post to the next level would have been to share them via Twitter, email and Facebook with major other sorority bloggers, sorority websites, etc. Though at the time as a newer blogger this didn't occur to me.
HOW TO FIND YOUR AUDIENCE
So the lesson here is, find your people and get in front of them. But how exactly do you do that? I'm so glad you asked. Here's some questions to get you started.
Grab a pen friend. No seriously you need to write your answers down. Go grab a pen... Okay good.
Who is your ideal reader? How old? Life stage? Interests? Single/married?
Where does that person hang out? What websites do they frequent? Which social channels do they spend their lunch break browsing?
Time to get even more specific. Saying your person hangs out on Facebook doesn't really get us to far. Dig deeper. Where on Facebook? What groups are they in? What do they use Facebook for? What pages do they follow?
Do the same for any other social platforms you listed.
Okay. Now, do you know where your person is? Yes? Good.
The second you hit publish get your stuff exactly where you mentioned your person hangs out.
Lesson 2: Be Timely
Another reason my post did well was because it came at prime sorority time, the time when bigs make paddles for their littles. So of course they're researching online for inspiration.
Here's another example to show you how this is relevant and how it applies to you.
Let's say you blog about festivals. La Tomatia in Spain is coming up and you're going. Wahoo!
There's thousands of other first-time festival goers heading there as well. They'll be researching about the festival days, weeks or months before to hear tips on what shoes to wear, where to stay and where to consume the best post-festival sangria.
What will they be doing after the festival? Cleaning tomato out of the crevasses of their ear.
They're not going to be searching for info after the festival has ended. So of course, if you post about the festival after the fact, your recap, top tips or fabulous festival video, it's not going to be helpful and timely for your target readers (the festival goers) and it won't do nearly as well.
The people who needed the post don't need it anymore.
If they would have found your Top 10 Tips For Visiting La Tomatia pre-festival they would have shared it with their festival-going buddies to discuss your tips and plan their trip.
When you're writing your fabulous post, think about prime time for the post to go online.
For bigger events, travels and festivals people plan these things months in advance, so a couple months before whatever is prime season in a location or the event/festival happens is best. For National Dress Your Dog Like A Panda Day people don't tend to plan so far in advance. You could post that a couple days or week prior.
An editorial calendar is a perfect tool to plan your content in advance and notice the holidays, festivals and events coming up. You can then plan your posts to go live at the most prime time.
Tell me, what is your most shared post? Why do you think it was shared so much more than the others?