"Come visit my site!" No, no, no, says blogging expert
Marketing blogger Wayne Hurlbert has some basic advice today on how amateur bloggers can increase traffic to their site. Unsurprisingly, his tips are almost an exact match to advice underground zinesters have been giving other underground zinesters for decades now - basically, that you can't beat the act of contributing original content to other publishers, but that this content absolutely must be something readers would actually want to read. Back when bloggers were doing their updates in crudely-xeroxed paper form, this usually meant contributing a guest essay or review for the next issue of someone else's zine; in our electronic age, of course, this primarily means contributing comments to other websites' blog entries, or writing a blog entry at your own site that you then trackback to the original post.
Mr. Hurlbert emphasizes something that I wish more bloggers would take the time to understand; that simply posting a "Come check out my site!" comment at other people's blogs rarely leads to people actually checking out your site. For comments and trackbacks to truly generate new audience members, the author of these comments needs to write something that actually gets that original audience's attention - something especially smart, something especially witty, anything that makes that audience member say to themselves, "Hmm, that was an interesting comment - I wonder what else this person has to say?" And don't forget, you also have to do this without pissing off the author of the original entry, or without it looking too nakedly like a desperate ploy to get new readers for your own blog.
That said, what Mr. Hurlbert recommends is exactly true - commenting regularly at other people's blogs, and trackbacking your own entries, is the number-one free way an underground writer can generate more audience members for their own blog, just like penning guest essays for other zines used to be the number-one way for them to do it back in the dark ages (i.e. the 1980s). Learn it, love it, use it. And make sure to check out my site while you're at it!