Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday's Tip: Getting More Traffic to Your Blog, Part Two

When I planned this series of tips several weeks ago and prewrote them, I had no idea that another blogger would have the same topic posted this week (Amy, get out of my head!). Actually, it confirms the theory that great minds think alike!

Participate


The next step towards getting more traffic to your genealogy blog is to participate in carnivals, memes, and challenges.

Carnival: "A Blog Carnival is like a magazine. It has a title, a topic, editors, contributors, and an audience. Editions of the carnival typically come out on a regular basis (e.g. every Monday, or on the first of the month). Each edition is a special blog article that consists of links to all the contributions that have been submitted, often with the editors opinions or remarks." (from the Blog Carnival FAQs page)

Meme: Like a giant game of blog tag, a meme is usually a writing prompt on a concise topic. Bloggers answer the questions provided or write a mini-essay on the topic, then choose a certain number of other bloggers to do the same thing. Oftentimes they are simply silly, fun games similar to social icebreakers. They're a great way to get to know the personal sides of other genealogy bloggers and for them to learn about you. One recent meme has been 99+ Genealogy Things.

Challenges: These are similar to carnivals in that they are written on a (usually) serious topic that may require a bit of research and time to write a factual or focused post; thus the word "challenge." Like a carnival, there is usually a host that puts out the challenge and may even have a wrap-up post with links to all the bloggers who participated, although this is not always the case. Whereas the carnivals, like magazines, have multiple editions and continue to digitally publish each issue on a regular basis, a challenge tends to be a one-time or perhaps an annual occurrence. A recent challenge, although it was not labeled such, was Denise Olsen's Christmas Tour of Blogs.

Why they work:
Readers and other bloggers are attracted to carnivals and challenges because they showcase concentrated research, excellent writing, and heartfelt stories. Many of the carnivals are widely read, even by those who may not be that interested in genealogy. If you have a program that tracks your site statistics, watch your readership numbers climb when a carnival you've participated in gets posted! Memes, too, are a great way to get your as-yet-unnoticed blog some attention, just like jumping into a game of tag on the playground of your childhood years was likely to bring you new friends!

Where to find them:
On the first day of every month, I publish the Calendar of Events with deadlines for all the known carnivals and challeges. If you are a member of the Genea-Bloggers Group on Facebook (more on that in a later post), Thomas lists the events in the right-hand column of the group page. Click on any one for more details on that event: deadlines, hosts, topics. He also has the events in a handy Google Calendar which you can merge with your own Google Calendar; there's even a tutorial provided to show you how to do this!

Carnivals generally have a digital form at the Blog Carnival site to submit posts. I wrote "How to Submit a Post to a Carnival" to help with that process. Challenges will usually have participation directions listed in the challenge post of the host blogger. To find memes, keep an eye on your favorite genea-bloggers as most will participate in current memes. If you don't get tagged to participate, start your own!

Don't be afraid that your writing or research skills may not be "good enough" for a carnival or challenge. Stick with the topic and do your best; writing, like any skill, improves over time, and we genea-bloggers are a welcoming and accepting group, learning from each other. Down the road you may be confident enough to guest host a carnival, and that, too, will bring much traffic to your site. I hope to "see" lots of new faces at the next carnival, challenge, and meme!

Other posts in this series:
Part One: Get Listed
Part Three: Comment and Allow Comments
Part Four: Create a Profile
Part Five: Join Social Networking Sites
Part Six: The Redux
Part Seven: Check It
Part Eight: Learn

Part Nine: Bookmarks, Feeds, and Subscriptions
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