When starting a blog of our own or one for our company, hopefully we take time to plan out the content and look at what we want the blog to achieve for us and perhaps follow a process such as the one I advocated in the Green Cross Code of Blogging.
One of the key parts in this process is the “look and listen” phase. This is when you take time out to research what is already going on and what is being discussed around the blogosphere in your industry or area. By following other blogs which address the same subject areas as your own, you should get a better feel for some key elements which will help you with your own blog, such as:
- what others are writing about
- what conversations are ongoing,
- what topics are already being covered and by whom
- who the main players are
- which are the key blogs to read and be seen on
- ideas on how to present your own blog
But of course first of all, we have to find them!
So what are the best places to find what blogs are already out there in the area that you have an interest in. Personally, I’d always start any search of this type with a Blog Search Engine and specifically Technorati which I suppose doubles as a Blog Search Engine and a Blog Directory. Being able to see who is linking to whom allows me to easily trace a route through to find the blogs that I am looking for. Others you could also check are Google’s own Blog Search Engine and Icerocket.
However, there are other ways of locating blogs which would be of interest to you (and then of course adding them to your RSS reader – makes life a lot simpler afterwards!) and here are some which should make the job easier:
- Blog Directories and RSS Directories: check through some of these blog focused directories which are usually organised along business and general interest lines. Choose your sector and start reading.
- Social Networking / Business Networking sites: with the proliferation of the sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, Ecademy, Xing etc, there are a good bet for finding information on relevant blogs. This may be listed on the profile page of the person but it is also worth checking the “signature” text that appears under their posts on the discussion forums where they are often promoted;
- Other Blogs: once you have a blog you are interested in then use the links and recommendations that they provide. These links may well be in the text of the post itself or in the Blogroll (or Recommended sites) in the sidebar of the blog;
- Press Releases: as companies take on board the fact that press releases should contain more social media tools and be aimed at their target audience rather than editors, they are including blog addresses in their contact details. Get a Google Alert set up to include their News section and get a daily email on who’s making press releases which contain your keywords;
- Blog Awards: there seem to be a number of Blog Awards now, either at national level or in specific sectors. Either way they should throw up blogs which are worth looking at;
- Search Engines: of course the main search engines also include blogs along with the other websites and so may throw up different results to the blog search engines. In any case, always worth a look because of their “firepower”.
- Blog Carnivals: Blog Carnivals are generally arranged around a theme so check out ones that might be happening in your area of interest and see who is getting involved.
- Corporate Sites: as more and more companies realise the benefits of a having a blog (or more likely multiple blogs) you will find links to them from their sites. So check the company you are interested in and have a look around!
- Google Alerts: don’t just use Google Alerts for Press Releases, make sure that you cover all the Google sections available – you can find some research ideas with Google Alerts here.
Of course, since these are good places to find blogs, they are also excellent places to promote your own. As a first step, do make sure that you have your blog submitted to the various blog and RSS Directories and that your blog software is automatically pinging the Blog Search Engines every time that you post. After that you can look at some or all of the other methods for your own promotion purposes as time permits.
Try to pick up as much as you can from the ones that impress you most but above all enjoy reading the blogs you find – that’s what they are there for!