As a new and excited publisher of the Independent Web, you might be feeling excited — and maybe a little nervous. That’s a good thing; it means you care. Sovrn cares too! We not only want you to succeed, we want to give you the tools and the knowledge to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. We see thousands of sites every day and we thought it might help if we shared a sort of “dos and don’ts of online publishing” based on what we see. This is part one of a two-part installment.
1. Never try to be something/someone you’re not.
I know — the same piece of advice your mother gave you when you were in elementary school is still true in this instance. You’re never going to be anyone but yourself, so be true to that! You have a voice and a message. Spread it! The only way to effectively create a successful blog is to be your fearless self. Create a site that you’re proud of. Write what you want to write. Talk about what you want to talk about.
People are going to visit your website because of the authentic content you create and the way in which you present it.
If it appeals to them or speaks to them in some way, they’ll come back. Keep them coming back by being consistent with your voice, your message and the frequency of your posts.
2. Ignore social media at your peril.
A lot of new publishers think that simply because they wrote an amazing post, people are going to see it. Sadly, this is not the case. Any successful publisher will attest to the importance they place on promoting their work through social media. Any time you write a new blog or add new content, spread it all over the major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn, Instagram and Tumblr. Once you share it, start following people (especially your readers and the brands you’re trying to attract). When someone follows you on social media, follow them back. Building an audience takes time and too many publishers ignore it. Take advantage of the channels out there and grow your following. Based on the research we’ve done here at sovrn, those publishers with the most social followers tend to earn more revenue from their website monetization efforts. More followers means more page views, which lead to more money.
3. Don’t ignore your readers.
This is kind of a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many publishers don’t allow comments on their sites — or who don’t have any way to engage in conversation on social media. (See #2.) As hard as it might be to swallow, your blog is not really all about you; it’s about your readers. It’s fun to write about yourself or topics that you feel passionately about, of course, but creating it and then stranding it on an island is not going to create conversation, fans, or make you any money. Engaging your readers takes time, but they’re the ones who help you become a better publisher.
4. Do not, under any circumstances, scrape another publisher’s content.
Not much as changed since elementary school when it comes to plagiarism. DON’T DO IT. Duh. I know it seems rudimentary, but you’d be surprised at how many new bloggers out there don’t cite their sources or link back to the original source. If you’re going to use someone else’s content, that’s fine, just be sure to give them credit. You won’t last long or gain any respect if you start scrapping other publishers’ content. Once you’re caught, there’s no reversing it and advertisers will blacklist your domain to prevent you from monetizing with them.
5. Don’t buy traffic.
This is kind of like #4. Buying traffic is not a “trick of the trade”. It’s bad. It’s fraudulent. You’ll get caught every time. And your domain will be blacklisted by advertisers. Period. The end.
6. Don’t expect results over night.
Creating and promoting your content takes time — A LOT OF TIME. You simply can’t expect to quit your job and support your family overnight with independent publishing. Hang in there. Be consistent. Learn. Grow. Improve. Publish frequently and regularly — at least once per week. Your readers will come to know the days that you post. Obviously, the more frequently you post, the more content there is for your readers to absorb and the longer the readers spend on your site.