Thursday, May 29, 2008

Building Blog relationships

In Problogger's latest post he discussed the 12 Tools and Techniques for Building Relationships with Other Bloggers. Relationships are important as blogging by its nature, tends to be a solo endeavour. Darren gave five reasons why building such relationships are good for you:

[1] Finding readers
[2] Learning your Craft
[3] Accountability and Advice
[4] Friendship
[5] Sharing of Skills

How do his 12 tips apply in financial blogging?

[i] Blog Commenting: Commenting is perhaps the easiest and quickest way to get noticed. The biggest mistake in commenting is to write off-topic; it's important to know the audience, for example, singing the virtues of technical analysis to a blogger who hates it is not going to get you on his or her Christmas card list. By conversing with those bloggers considered important to you, you quickly build up a rapport without the need for lengthy emails (which often get filtered as spam, not to mention are more time consuming to write) with the benefit of a linkback for those who share your opinions to go to your blog.

[ii] Emailing Other Bloggers: Requires more effort than a targeted comment on a particular post since you will need to engage the blogger based on their blog content as a whole. Easiest way is to offer your opinion on a topic or stock which may have featured in a past article (versus a more recent article where a comment may suffice) and ask for the blogger's opinion or comment. Emails should have a bit of beef to them, around two or three short paragraphs - but not too much that it looks like your relative died and you need to shift $10 billion. You want to attract the reader's eye, but don't want your email to look spammy

[iii] Guest Posts: Darren makes an excellent point on watching for times when Bloggers go on vacation and offer to guest post then. Best way to audition is to write a piece which carries the tone of the blog you wish to guest on; 250-500 words is plenty. You will probably earn a link-back to your site in the process.

[iv] Story tips: A great one for financial bloggers. Again, be frugal in your messaging and don't push something to a blogger 'cold' (i.e. at least build up an initial introduction first). Get a twitter account and start following the networks of interest to you and your readers; when something comes up which may be relevant to another blogger you can notify them with a quick email or tweet.

[v] Link out: Recommended reading lists are a great style of post when writer's block sets in. You also benefit by creating informational channels from your blog to the blogs you are trying to reach out to; they will see this information in their referral analytics. Because of this I would always follow your blog links to your favorite blogs where possible, particularly in the early days; a feed-hit - although more convenient - isn't going to register your link to the target blogger. If you are checking their site on a daily basis, those 30-31 referral hits a month will get noticed. From there it will be down to the quality of your content to get a recripriocal link in place.

[vi] Instant Messaging: More the realm of the day trader when the fast flow of information is critical. Not so important for financial bloggers where Twitter is the norm for soundbite sharing. As a non-IM user I would have to admit it wouldn't be something I would be keen to go for.

[vii] Social Networking: Take your pick. Facebook has a number of financial-related groups and you can link your blog RSS feed to your Facebook profile - providing easy access to your blog. A good way of building an initial readership is to actively participate in Facebook financial (and non-financial) groups; targeting potential readers with shared interests.

[viii] Social Bookmarking: A hit-or-miss strategy for financial bloggers. But Darren's recommendation is not to social bookmark your own articles, but to Digg, Stumble Upon, or articles of bloggers you are looking to build relationships with. Social Bookmarking is like digging for oil; you can dig many wells and get nought, but once you hit the big one you better be ready for the traffic which follows.

[ix] Interviews: If you have something worth saying then consider getting in touch with TraderInterviews. Better still, if there is a blogger you would like to hear about then suggest TraderInterview talks to them! Financial bloggers occassional run spot interviews on traders. Stocktickr also maintaina a good archive of interviews, especially ones featuring financial bloggers.

[x] Forums and Discussion Groups: Not as simple as it may sound. When building readership through this channel you need to offer valuable content, but not so much that the content of your blog isn't worth the trip. Writing for a Forum and Twitter is similiar in this respect. If you are a sector specialist then forums are a great way of archiving your more in depth analysis, with the sound-bite commentary kept for the forum. Word of warning: message boards, like Yahoo!s, can quickly filter out your blog link, so always ensure your profile has a link back to your blog, and avoid overusing your blog link on every post. Also prepare for Trolls and (unwarranted) flamings.

[xi] Pick up the Phone/Skype it: As Darren suggests, best done when a well established relationship is already in place.

[xii] Real Life Networking Events: Sometimes bloggers announce which events they are going to attend. If you are in the neighbourhood it can be a great way to build up a rapport faster than a stream of emails or IM would. Again, Facebook might also help when it comes to organising or arranging social events with members of your group.

As a final note, and to repeat Darren's advice, there is a fine line between overbearing attempts at communication (spam) and friendly discourse. The best way to start is to build up the link love from your blog to theirs, move on to commenting and social networking, and when one of your articles makes it to their page fire off a 'Thank You' email and brief introduction about yourself. Buying them a gift from their Amazon wish-list is always a good cheap way of building goodwill.

Dr. Declan Fallon, Senior Market Technician, the free stock alerts, market alerts, and stock charts website


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