How to Create an Award-Winning Blog in 6 Months by Ryan Smith, CEO of Varial Technologies, Inc. (@rsmith)Chris Morin, Editor of Ominocity (@chrixmorix)
How to Create an Award-Winning Blog in 6 Months A case study of Ominocity.com and our secrets and strategies for creating an award-winning website, building a following of dedicated readers, increasing traffic and making money from blogging.
A Bit of History… Launched Threeohsix.org, a forum for Saskatoon’s local music scene in 2002. The website was entirely community driven with members contributing content, submitting events and engaging in flame wars. Threeohsix.org saw immediate success, grew to over 5 million hits per month, released a compilation CD, hosted 2 festivals and received multiple offers to be bought out.
A Bit of History… Traffic dropped dramatically as Facebook started to gain popularity and we were unable to maintain past levels of user involvement or cash out. Threeohsix.org was permanently taken offline in 2008 as our readers and contributors were too busy updating their statuses and stalking hotties.
Introducing Ominocity Recognized a need to build community within Saskatoon’s local music scene that had been missing since Threeohsix.org was shut down. Wanted to create a website that works with social media and utilizes everything we have learnt since launching Threeohsix.org.
Introducing Ominocity Ominocity.com was launched in March 2011 and is a Saskatoon-based online magazine dedicated to promoting the arts, music and independent media with an emphasis on local events and emerging talent. Adheres to a frequent publishing schedule with daily themes, exclusive downloads, artist spotlights, photo essays and offbeat weekly features.
Content Writing Present a local voice while writing articles with a broader appeal to capture a larger audience. For example, spotlighting local musicians as they break nationally or reviewing national content as it relates locally.
Content Writing Ominocity is now used by artists to give themselves a stage to launch and promote their material. For example, musicians have contacted us to offer their upcoming albums for exclusive download which has proven successful for both the artists and the website. Local band Reform Party launched their debut EP on Ominocity and were hoping to see 500 downloads in the first 2 weeks but achieved that in the first day.
Content Writing An average visitor spends a couple minutes on the site reading an article so it is important to be concise and keep content sharp and interesting as possible. Keep article length under 500 words. Add images and video to articles to draw the reader’s attention. Rather than having one long article consider multiple shorter articles.
Content Writing Keep on top of news. It’s always best to be first when breaking news but an article written later in the day will still get hits. To keep content fresh it is good idea to get guest contributors to write for your blog and write guest posts for other publications.
Search Engine Optimization We chose WordPress as our publishing software as it search engine friendly and we also use the Google Sitemaps plugin to index our articles immediately. We strive for keyword friendly article titles to make it easier for people to search for our articles and to immediately know what the content is about.
Sex and The Sheepdogs We occasionally write articles to capitalize on Google searches. We added a sex column to offer a change in content. Our “DIY Sex Robot” article still generates dozens of obscene keyword searches every day. Articles on local musicians Aunty Panty similarly attracts visitors who aren’t necessarily interested in an all-girl lesbian punk band.
Sex and The Sheepdogs With The Sheepdogs gaining massive worldwide popularity, any article we have featured on the band instantly generates a massive amount of hits. Any time there is something newsworthy we have tried to post a quick feature on The ‘Dogs. A blog post written for another publication was also featured on Ominocity – when The Sheepdogs got huge so did everything else associated with them.
Top 5 Favourite Google Searches ewancurrie girlfriend diy sex furniture aunties in panties panty stain how to cheat on your girlfriend and get away with it
Social Media Website was coded to capitalize on social media sharing with deep Facebook and Twitter integration. Visitors login using Facebook to comment on articles rather than creating accounts. Of all the social media sharing plugins for WordPress the large Facebook Like button is used most frequently.
Social Media Our top referrers for traffic to Ominocity are Facebook, Google and Twitter. We’ve found that some articles were shared more widely on Facebook when the content captured a broader audience. For example, featuring show reviews rather than album reviews. With Facebook our top referrer of traffic, our Fan Page is the best way for readers to subscribe to our publication.
Social Media Rather, Facebook fucked us. When we launched, sending Fan Page invites to friends only showed up as Suggested Pages to the side of their Newsfeed which was easily overlooked. Recently Facebook changed Fan Page invites back to showing up as notifications which make it much more likely that your friends will like your page.
Social Media Along with the major social networks we also try to utilize other social sites like Instagram and YouTube to build a larger community around the site. We created mobile apps for iPhone and Android to keep our audience involved when away from a computer.
Social Media To save time we used a free service called AppMakr.comto create our mobile apps which pulls our RSS feeds to display our articles, events, Instagram photos and YouTube videos. We also strive to build community offline by putting on local events and parties.
How to Win an Award Ominocity.com won Best Local Website/Blog in the 2011 Planet S Magazine Best of Saskatoon Reader’s Poll. Using the traditional social media outlets and the strategies mentioned previously, we also captured the public’s attention using YouTube videos to encourage people to vote for us – or at least pay attention to us…
Monetization While we have focused our initial efforts on creating our product, now that we have established a following we are beginning to explore monetization options. Our initial plan was to earn revenue from commissions from TicketMaster’s affiliate program.
Monetization Rather, we got fucked again. TicketMaster cancelled their affiliate program a week after we launched. Going back to the drawing board we are now monetizing the site through direct ad sales, PPC ads, and other related affiliate programs like iTunes, Rdio and Groupon.
Summary By utilizing these strategies and making changes to our content based on what articles are generating the most traffic, we have recently doubled our readership.
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