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7 common pitfalls in marketing blogs

By Tracy Wood

A blog is your personal stage for the world. You can inspire people, rejoice at triumphs, mourn with others and speak from a soapbox. However, if only a few people know about your blog, your stage becomes a milk crate in your living room. Marketing your church or pastor’s blog is important, and knowing how to master this art is crucial. These common pitfalls hinder people from marketing their blogs efficiently:

1. Assume readers can find you. Creating a blog and posting a link on your church’s website does not mean that readers will find your blog. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one key to your blog’s success. You need to speak the language of search engines, write about hot topics and understand how to use keywords effectively. Then build blog posts around this strategy. SEO isn’t optional for those who want to grow their audience.

2. Market to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Suppose your blog topic is Advent liturgy. Will the Birdwatchers Association of Poland truly find it noteworthy? Focus your marketing arsenal on your target market — clergy, lay leaders, other laity, seekers, churchgoers and so forth. Find other religious organizations, Christian forums and community groups and promote your content to those who value and respect the topics you cover.

3. Retweet, revamp and recycle others’ content. Even the best bloggers occasionally recycle quality content. However, people also expect new, quality content. Keep your content fresh, and you’ll keep your readers engaged.

4. Market to the masses. "More is always better" does not necessarily apply to marketing your blog. While you need to make your content available on various social media outlets, it is wise to focus your efforts on your most popular venue. If Facebook is your primary social media outlet, spend 75 percent of your marketing efforts on Facebook by reaching new people, inviting people to read your blog and posting links in various communities. Spend the remaining 25 percent of your marketing time and efforts on other social media outlets such as Twitter, Google+ and others.

5. Market solo. We all ask friends for the recommendations of a good doctor or product. The same applies online. Word-of-mouth marketing online can be one of your biggest allies to helping you gain visibility on social networks and other blogging spheres and forums. People who read your content and find it useful will post links to your blog on their social media outlets. If the friends of these people see something their friend thought important, they are more likely to click on the link rather than on a random advertisement.

6. Write without listening. Every writer has his or her own style. Engage your readers with surveys from time to time about your style and why people love it (or hate it). Find out what works, what does not and how you can improve. From your current blog and other online presences, look back at your content and find out what people responded to well. Then run with it. All of this will help present the very best you.

7. Take as much as you can from your readers. None of us lives in a vacuum. We have a give-and-take relationship with people and things. You give your vehicle gasoline, and it takes you to your destination. Focus your content on giving something to your followers 80 percent of the time and taking something from them 20 percent of the time. In terms of giving, think about links to news that interests you and stories that convict your heart, fresh ideas to use in church and links to quality free material online. In terms of taking, ask readers to comment on your blog post, retweet your link or donate to a mission project. Overdoing the “taking” can come off as spamming, and you may lose followers and fans quickly.

Now that you have learned the pitfalls in marketing your blog, go out and show your knowledge and insight to the world. If you know of great church and pastor blogs, be sure to leave a comment with their link.