FWIW, IMHO, Caveate Emptor, YMMV, Objects may be closer than they appear, etc etc etc.
I've been building web sites as an amature for over 14 years now. Being a new member here, I wanted to share some of my thoughts and observations about blogs and websites in general . Based on what I've been doing and building lately, here are some (semi organized) thoughts:
First and foremost, think "channels", not "flyers". Web-based communication is not like publishing a flyer or newsletter. Or even like a daily newspaper. It's more like being your own media conglomerate. The idea is to leverage as many different channels of communication and let the consumer decide which works best. Some of my readers like to receive twitter updates to their "dumb" phone. Others prefer facebook messages on their smartphone. Still others want new posts to appear in their RSS feedreader. Many will want an email in their inbox. The point is that none of these methods are wrong, and you CAN manage all of them without losing yourself into a digital circle of hell. As long as you have a plan.
That having been said:
- Everything you do should lead back to your web site - that one place on the internet that contains the heart of what you are doing. If you are a consultant, it's the place where people get your service listing and rates. If you are a writer, it's where people can get your resume and samples. You get the point.
- (Almost) Everything you do should not only LEAD back there, but it should be created IN ORDER TO bring the reader there. If you are writing a guest column, make sure you at least get a mention of your site, if not direct links back to it. Don't post main articles or content anywhere else. Post it on your site and then link from other places back there. Etc.
- If you publish a newsletter (whether physical or electronic), consider publishing only PART of the article, with a "click here to read more".
- Cross-post! Very few people are going to read your archives list (you DO have a link to your archives, don't you?!?!). More people will look at your "top xx posts" list (and I'm SURE you have that on your sidebar, RIGHT?!?!). But if you reference your other posts within the post they are reading, those links are just screaming to be read.
- Cross-post (the sequel): Write guest bits for other bloggers. They will appreciate the additional content as much as you would, and you get an entirely new set of readers to see your stuff. I've found that even offering a repost of things that appear on my site is often deeply appreciated.
- Finally, whenever you create a link - whether it is to someone else's site or your own internal stuff, use the _blank tag. This will open a new window or tab, which means your reader can get back to YOUR page without hitting the back button (which they never do). To use this, the format of the html looks like this:
a href="www.newsite.com" target="_blank"
But the most important thing I've learned:
Create in one place, let tools disseminate. Nobody wants to have to remember to post to the blog, then create a twitter post about the blog post, and then create a similar post on Facebook. Then Stumble it. Or whatever.
This takes a bit of work, but you will be happy you did. A lot of these tricks rely on Feedburner. It's not the only way, but recently feedburner added several features that make it VERY easy to do this stuff. Once again, caveate emptor.
- Make sure people can sign up for your blog via email. (in feedburner, you set this up under the "publicize" tab, then pick "email subscriptions")
- As Heidi Cool writes about here, don't hide your RSS feed.
- Equally true, don't hide your Facebook account, Twitter link, LinkedIn profile, etc. Make sure that people who LIKE that stuff can connect to you via THEIR CHANNEL of choice.
- Make sure your blog automatically alerts Twitter about new posts (again in feedburner, you would look under the "publicize" tab. There is a "socialize" item that will let you add your Twitter account.)
- Set up Facebook to automatically pull in your Twitter updates. You can do that two ways:
- if you ONLY use Twitter to promote your website, you can use this application.
- if you post other things to twitter that you DON'T want to appear on Facebook, you can use the Selective Tweets Facebook app. Then the only things that go to Facebook are the ones you post with a #fb hashtag. Which Feedburner lets you add from it's automatic repost to Twitter, by the way.
- Stumble is your friend. I'm not a big user of Stumble Upon (http://www.stumbleupon.com) but over half my hits now come from people finding my site. To add a "Stumble This" link using Feedburner, go to the Optimize Tab, "FeedFlare" option.
Hopefully this gives everyone something to chew on. To see some of these tricks at work, check out my blog (you KNEW I was going to add that somewhere, didn't you?): http://www.edibletorah.com/.