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By Larry Bodine
After 10 months of blogging, solo practitioner Andrew Ewalt has achieved his initial goal: building a niche Web destination giving practical advice to his clients in the greater Hartford, Connecticut, area. He posts two to three times a week at http://andrew ewaltslawblog.blogs.com and now has 80 posts or “articles.” His next step? He’s considering doing podcasts on his blog.
Andrew has deliberately avoided controversy or any of the tempests du jour that sweep the blogosphere. He has kept his personal life (and vacation pictures) off of the blog and, instead, concentrated on what matters—his clients’ needs. In his posts, he summarizes relevant news items, reports on pending legal issues and publishes checklists. The content is straightforward, solid and sincere, just as I’ve found Andrew to be.
But what is less straightforward is what works and what doesn’t for the blogosphere. In my previous installment on Andrew’s blogging journey (in the January/February issue),
I reported he was planning to lengthen the blog’s tag line about his practice because a fellow blogger said it was too short and undistinguished. So Andrew lengthened the tag line to include each area of his practice (“wills, trust, powers of attorney, living wills, probate and estate administration, buy/sell agreements, asset protection, elder law, nursing home, Medicaid planning, business law, contracts, establishing LLCs and corporations, not-for-profits, residential real estate, commercial real estate, reverse mortgages”). Now another blogger has said the tag line is too long!
“No matter what you do, the bloggers will complain if you do it one way or the other way,” Andrew chuckled. I recommended that he leave the tag line as is—because it’s great bait for search engines. Plus, people are talking about his blog and that’s not a bad thing.
Traffic update. Andrew checks his TypePad stats and referrers to see what search terms visitors are using to find his blog. Cleverly, he incorporates those exact words into the titles of his posts. Thus, the uninformed visitor will see the unsexy headline “Mortgage Escrow: What Is It?” but Andrew has carefully researched his visitors and determined that “mortgage escrow” is a phrase that brings him traffic.
And traffic has been healthy on his niche site. Andrew, at my recommendation, switched to SiteMeter to measure his traffic. It reports that for January 2006 his blog received 485 page views, 344 unique visitors, 305 first-time visitors and 39 returning visitors. The number of unique and first-time visitors is a very healthy sign. Traffic is gradually climbing.
Blogroll tactics. To boost traffic even more, I advised Andrew to use his blogroll (his collection of links to other sites) in a premeditated fashion. That means selecting links to other blogs on which he wants to have his blog mentioned. I recommended he then contact those blogs’ authors, notify them that they are in his blogroll, and invite them to comment online about his blog. The trouble is, “I haven’t found other professional blogs that I think are neat.” The solution? To use blog search engines like Technorati, Google and Blawg.org to deliberately find blogs to follow and include in his blogroll.
Podcasting plans. Now I’m urging Andrew to start podcasting. It’s trendy and tech-savvy and it’s getting a lot of buzz. Plus, it’s easy if he opens an account at Audioblog.com, which has packages ranging from $9.95 to $49.95 per month. It’s a breeze to use: You simply call a specific phone number, enter a pin number and start talking. Audioblog automatically uploads the podcast to your blog.I’ve advised him that the podcasts should be two to three minutes long at most; should tell a story with a moral; and should start with him identifying himself, give instructions on how to find his blog, and continue with him speaking in a conversational voice. People don’t mind the “ums” and unrehearsed pauses because they prefer the sound of natural speech on a podcast—just like a phone conversation. Stay tuned to see how the podcasting plans progress.