If you find you are not well suited to linkbait tactics then you are going to need to use alternative tactics. Here is a viral approach that is working for me right now, it might be an option for you too.
As bloggers what do we want? Attention? Revenue? Either way that translates into visitors, post views and links. The links bring in the visitors and also the google-juice that brings in more visitors by way of search engines. Then there is the “other PR”, the traditional PR of just getting your name out there, hopefully in a favourable light. Which could be described as “branding” too.
Link bait often takes the form of generating a buzz, debate, interest that draws links and comments from other bloggers. The focus is on your blog, focus being an appropriate word as the attention is focussed on your blog post.
The technique I am using is more distributed and viral. Your success depends on curiosity, peoples natural inclination and habits, but also unfortunately good photography. That last one might at first make it appear to rule a lot of people out from using it but hear me out!
It all started when I was contacted by another photography blog about a 30 day challenge. Their idea was to take a photograph a day and post it to their blog. They were going to use technorati tags to follow participation. I thought it was a great idea, still with my photographer head on.
Once I got into blogging mode though I realised there was potential to get a bit of publicity to my blog too. I added the promise of a prize, which required a voting mechanic (I will write a Drupal module to work with Flickr RSS for that) and an additional rule that participants need to use a Flickr tag which funnily enough contains the name of my blog, DSLRBlog-PAD.
So how does this bring traffic?
Photographers love taking photographs, and they like to be challenged. This challenge is hard but fun. Some great photographs are coming out of the challenge. Due to the way Flickr works, great photographs get a lot of attention and are shared in Flickrs groups. Each time these pictures are viewed the Flickr user will read the description “Here is my attempt for day 5 of the picture a day challenge” and follow a link, or at the very least will see the tags and be curious about the strange tagging that is going on.
This is when the viral nature comes in. If it looks like fun they will want to join in. When they see there is a competition attached there will be an additional incentive. If they are using Flickr to the maximum they will have contacts who view their photo stream or submit to Flickr groups the cycle will continue.
If the photographer is really good they will create a lot of traffic to their pictures and attract lots of Flickr contacts. A percentage of these will be drawn to your blog. Each photograph is like an advert for your challenge.
There is also a tendancy for online photographers to have their own blogs, going back to the original idea the participants had to post to their blog with a technorati tag. While the majority are linking to the original blog who started this challenge some are mentioning my prize. If you do this of course you will get all the link benefits!
So it all sounds good apart from the part about requiring good photography? The trick is you do not need to be a good photographer, you just need to get good photographers on board! You are running the competition or challenge, it is the photographers who spread the word and generate interest through their pictures.
We are just a week in and I am beginning to see the affects start to ripple in. Just one of my blog members had 379 views of one of his pictures so far, which brought him 20 new contacts. That’s one member and one picture, there is 20-some days left of the challenge. At the very least it is content for our blogs, thirty days worth of content.
Don’t get me wrong, my primary motivation for my blog and the challenge is a love of photography. The challenge itself was something I myself wanted to do. It’s an important factor that the thing has to be fun and appropriate or it will just not work.
If you are not into photography just think about this scheme and how you can apply it to your world and the niche your blog lives in. Is it possible to do something similar in online games, social networking sites (memes?) and video sharing sites like YouTube?
Have you got any ideas like this or done anything similar? Let us know in the comments …