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Guide to blogging

A guide to blogging for musicians

'Blog' spelt out with Scrabble tiles

There’s a sense amongst a lot of musicians that I chat to that ‘blogging is important’, but not an understanding as to why. So in this article I thought I’d try to spell out what blogging can deliver for a musician or band, and how to go about it.

Why should I blog?

The main reason for blogging is because it delivers traffic to your site in a way that, as an independent artist, your music alone probably won’t.

If you write an interesting article about, say, the price of cabbage, it may get discovered in a search engine by a cabbage-lover, who then retweets it to the cabbage-loving community, generating thousands of visits by cabbage lovers to your site.

And, when the cabbage lovers arrive there, not only do they get to read an interesting article about cabbage, they get subtly (or not so subtly) exposed to your latest and greatest MP3.

If you had just posted this MP3 somewhere online without any references to cabbage, you wouldn’t get this traffic, because the web is full of bands posting MP3s online and frankly people are rather bored by that. A blog post about cabbage, however – now that’s interesting.

The above cabbage-related example may sound daft, but it explains pretty well how something important called ‘inbound marketing’ works. You write something interesting on your blog, it gets indexed by a search engine, and people interested in that topic discover it when they type a search phrase about it into Google.

If the article is very good, the user may well post a link to it on Twitter, Facebook etc., creating the potential for a lot of traffic to your site. It’s a ‘pull’ marketing tactic rather than a ‘push’ effort, because the quality of the blog content will drive the visits and shares (meaning you don’t have to spend money on online ads, or subject your Facebook followers to the same post about a music video involving your cat over and over again).

What should I blog about?

The simple answer usually is: not you.

If you’re blogging about how great your music is all the time, or detailing the minutiae of your latest creative project every five minutes, you are unlikely to get much in the way of traffic to your site (unless you are already a genuinely huge star, in which case I’m not sure why you are reading this advice).

Whilst it’s okay to post news of what you’re doing musically periodically into your blog, the focus of your blogging efforts should generally be on other issues. Stuff that’s topical; stuff that you’re really interested in; other bands you like and so on.

For me, the crucial thing about blogging is to write about stuff that you are genuinely fascinated by, because it will inspire you to write interesting posts, which are of course more likely to get shared and discovered than navel-gazing dissertations about your deep and meaningful lyrics.

How do I blog?

There are a host of free services out there that let you blog – the list seems to be growing endlessly, but big hitters include Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress, Squarespace and Posterous. If you are completely new to blogging, I’d probably suggest starting off on Blogger, because it is a free service which is very easy to set up and use.

If possible though, the best thing to do is to get your music site’s web designer to include blogging functionality on your site – this is usually the ideal place to host a blog because it means that all your musical content is on display when visitors arrive at it.

How often should I blog?

SEO experts generally believe that Google and other search engines prioritise quantity over quality, so my advice is to aim to blog reasonably frequently, but only when you have a decent post to publish. That said, avid readers of your blog might appreciate regular updates — so don’t leave huge gaps between posts.

Ultimately though, it’s better to publish a high-quality, long-form post once a month than to post inconsequential blogs every 5 minutes.

How do I get people to read my blog?

The golden rule is: write interesting, topical stuff. Your blog will get indexed by search engines and if the content is strong, you will get traffic via ‘organic’ searches. However, there are some tactics beyond that which can help boost readership:

  • After writing a new post, make sure you post a link to it on Twitter and Facebook, encouraging readers to share the article. The accompanying tweet or status update should contain a short but accurate summary of what the blog post is about.

  • Add an email subscription form to your blog so that readers have the opportunity to receive new posts in their inbox when you post them. If you use an email marketing tool such as Aweber or Mailchimp, you’ll often be able to edit various settings so that the tools convert your blog posts into emails automatically and broadcast them to your subscribers.

  • Always add relevant tags to your blog posts. Tags are keywords that summarise your content and help readers and search engines to find it easily. For example, when you do get round to that ‘price of cabbage’ article, you should tag it with things like ‘cabbage’, ‘economics’, ‘vegetables’ and ‘Brassica oleracea’.

  • Keep your blog post titles engaging and keyword-rich.

  • At the bottom of every blog post, list the ways that people can follow you – mention your Twitter profile, Facebook page etc. And promote the email subscription option again. The more followers / subscribers you get, the greater the chance that your content will be regularly read and shared. It's a virtuous circle.

  • Use pictures in your blogs. Not only will these make your posts look more attractive, but any time somebody shares your posts on Facebook, the pictures will be displayed in the article preview. These will make the articles jump out of a user’s news feed much more than a boring text link.

And finally…

Finally, having gone to all that effort to create a well-crafted blog, do make sure that information about your musical activities is clearly visible on it – make sure a link to a free download is available, or that some tracks are available to stream on Soundcloud.

See also

You may find my Style Factory article on how to increase blog traffic helpful.

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