Research, Promote And Monetize Your Online Writing: A Blogger's Guide To Twitter
Ten ways to leverage the power of Twitter for your blog. Research, promote and monetize your online writing by learning how to best use the power of Twitter.
As a blogger there are all kinds of tools that you can use to research, promote and monetize your writing - Twitter is one of them. In this bloggers' guide to Twitter, I take you through ten ways that this simple but high-powered networking tool can make a difference to your blog.
If you haven't encountered Twitter yet, it won't be long before you do. This easy-to-use micro-blogging service continues to grow in popularity by the day. In my recent beginners guide to Twitter I talked through some of the ways that you can use and enhance Twitter.
Today I am going to show you how you can leverage the simplicity and social networking capabilities of the service to your advantage as a blogger. I look at:
- Twitter as a news source - how you can tap into numerous aspects of the Twitter experience to bring in hot, fresh news to blog about, well ahead of the pack
- Twitter as a networking tool - how you can tap into other members' expertise and further spread your online presence
- Twitter as a promotional tool - how you can promote your blog and win over new readers via the Twitter community
- Twitter monetization - how with a bit of imagination you can use Twitter as another source of blogging revenue
Twitter as a News Source
Photo credit: Artsem Martysiuk
If you are serious about blogging, you will already be leveraging the power of RSS to gather and refine news from around the web. The only problem is having the time to sift through your news feeds, which can soon add up as you subscribe to more and more websites.
Luckily Twitter provides you with some fast, easy additional news sources which you can easily monitor, tap-into and turn-into cutting edge blog posts. Here's how:
- Subscribe To News Tweets
By far the easiest and most straightforward way to stay on top of your favorite news sources is to subscribe to their Twitter presence. You'd be surprised how many websites and even mass media corporations have accounts with Twitter, providing you with super-short bulletins of the very latest breaking news.
This is a great way to make sure that you always catch the incoming news as it breaks, and with the capability to send your Twitter messages to a mobile phone, you don't even need to be at your computer to do so.
Among the news sites with Twitter accounts you will find:
- Catch the hot news, as it is written
If you don't want to wait for the newsbots to serve up their bulletins, another way to stay ahead of the pack in your news gathering is to follow bloggers, journalists and subject experts with similar interests to yourself or your readers.
Very often, Twitter-active bloggers will let you know what they are working on throughout the day. This gives you the perfect sneak preview of news and articles you might want to cover or connect to in your own blog, before the news has even been published to the web.
Among the bloggers in the tech-world well worth following, you will find:
- Marshall Kirkpatrick of SplashCast, who is a truly prolific Twitter-user and a great source of interesting news links
- Robert Scoble, who takes Twittering to the next level and often lets you into what he is currently working on
- Marjolein Hoekstra of CleverClogs is also a Twitterholic, and an infinite source of RSS and Twitter links
- Of course, you can catch up on the latest Robin Good's Media Network news by following Robin Good, Livia Iacolare, and myself, Michael Pick
- See what's hot in the Twittersphere
Relying too heavily on popular news-hubs can leave your blog a little behind the times, trailing the hundred or so other bigger blogs covering the same story. If you are a tech-blogger for instance, and you make extensive use of popular tech news sites like TechMeme to get post ideas from, there is a strong chance that you will write the same blog post as everybody else.
Another approach to tracking the very latest memes, to give you a good idea about what's hot at the moment, is to make use of a third-party Twitter search tool. By finding out exactly what's being talked about most, and indeed what isn't being discussed at all, this can provide a refreshing, grassroots alternative to following the big news providers.
Among the services you can use to track Twitter Tweets are:
- TwitterBuzz, which tells you which URLs are currently most linked-to from Twitter
- Twitterverse, which creates great looking tag-clouds from the most most popular words used in Twitter within a user-defined timeframe
- Twitterholic lets you find out who's hot, ranking the top 100 Twitterers in order of how many followers they have. A good place to start if you are thinking about who to add to your list of friends
- Subscribe To News Tweets
Twitter as a Networking Tool
Photo credit: dogbone
Using Twitter as a networking tool is a great opportunity not only to draw on the expertise of others within the huge community, but also to engage even more directly with your (potential) readers than you could through the comments section of your blog alone.
- Max out on friends
As a blogger anything you can do to build up your readership (within the limits of legality) is worth pursuing, and one quick way to drive traffic to your website is to create regular Twitter Tweets.
The more people you have following your latest Tweet, the higher the page-views should become on your blog. If you aren't choosey about who your friends are, it is a relatively simple task to go about befriending other users from the Twitter website, and then hoping that they choose add you back. You certainly won't score a hit every time, but with persistence, you can quickly build up a large following.
If you want to be a little more selective, you can always make use of the following tools and techniques for choosing Twitter friends:
- Twitterholic gives you a way to work out who is most popular in the Twitter community
- Twitterment gives you a great way to search Twitter posts by keyword or even comparative keywords. Tap in some keywords related to your blog content, and you have an effective way to filter Twitter users more likely to be interested in what you have to say
- Twittersearch lets you run a keyword search and returns the latest Tweets which feature that word. You can link directly back to any user's page by clicking on their name
- One simple way to filter your followers is to rely on the good taste of existing friends from the network. As you can browse their contacts and followers directly from your friends' Twitter page, this gives you an opportunity to extend your network without having to search through users for yourself
- Ask for help on your blog posts
As the Twitter community is by-and-large a very friendly one, another way that you can have it benefit your blogging is to do a little crowd-sourcing when it comes to writing your articles.
Let's say you are writing an article on the best Twitter add-ons, for instance. What better way to tap into the wisdom of crowds than to ask your Twitter friends for recommendations?
Depending on the size of your network - and here bigger really is better - you could soon find yourself deluged with ideas. Just like that you have effectively farmed-out your research to the knowledge of a networked community.
If you really want to be sure of getting the very best advice, it makes good sense to add plenty of subject specialists to your list of friends, giving you a much better chance of getting well-honed insider tips.
- Max out on friends
Twitter as a Promotional Tool
Photo credit: Piksel
So you've found some hot news to write about, and tapped into the wisdom of crowds to help you research it. The next step is to make sure that plenty of people know about it, and Twitter can also help you out here.
As a promotional tool, Twitter gives you the chance to publicize your blog content and create loyal followers that could well turn into regular site visitors or even RSS subscribers. Here's how:
- Promote your blog posts
One obvious way that you can make use of Twitter for promotional purposes is by simply making an announcement each time you add a new post to your blog. It's surprising how much traffic that this can drive your way once you have built up a certain number of followers, and is well worth adding to your arsenal of social media optimization techniques.
Once visitors have arrived at your blog, you can make it easy for them to keep tracking your Tweets by embedding a Twitter badge from one of the following websites:
- Your Twitter account - which gives you various customization options and the choice of displaying either your last post, or your recent conversations with Twitter friends
- Chris' Original Twitter Badge - which has a nice clean, simple look that matches that of the Twitter website
- Jon Aquino's modification of the official Twitter badge, which lets you display a full ten Tweets at at time
- Morgan Aldridge's super-stylish CSS-customizable Twitter badge, which looks very nice indeed
But what if you are in the habit of writing all of your blog posts and then setting them to publish automatically at intervals throughout the day or week, as you sip cocktails by the pool? Luckily, just as you can automate your blog publishing, you can also schedule future Tweets using TweetAhead. Nobody need ever know.
- Create blog evangelists
If you keep your ear to the ground and try to answer other users' questions and requests for help, you will quickly find yourself building followers that will champion your cause.
The same effect can be had by being funny, creative or first-on-the-mark with great links. Whatever your approach, regular Tweets that go beyond what you ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner are likely to be recommended to other users. And as your friend list grows, so more people click through to your website, receive your blog updates and spread the word for you.
You can even make it easy for other people to spread the word on your latest blog post by adding a TwitThis button to the bottom of your article. When users click on it, it automatically creates a shortened Twitter-friendly URL to the blog post and takes a user to their Twitter account, making sharing even easier.
- Make Twitter a feature of your network
In addition to adding a Twitter badge and TwitThis button to your blog, you can also make a point of publicizing your Twitter presence from your blog sidebar or posts. If you then promise to add additional exclusive content only to your Twitter Tweets, your readers have a new reason to subscribe and follow your every move.
This can turn first-time or casual visitors to your blog into regulars, given that they will now be receiving regular updates about your latest articles. Among the things you can offer via Twitter are:
- Up-to-the-minute bulletins on your latest blog posts
- Exclusive offers, such as a Twitter friends-only e-book at a secret URL
- Competitions related to your blog content
- Updates from an RSS news-feed of interest to your readers. This can be set up as a separate account and fed directly into Twitter without your intervention via a tool like RSS2Twitter
- Behind the scenes information and gossip
The list goes on, but the idea remains the same. Twitter is another opportunity to create loyal readers, and readers that may in turn become evangelists for your cause. By offering exclusive content, you give readers the incentive to turn into regular followers of your content.
- Promote your blog posts
While monetization options for Twitter are nowhere near as far along as they have come for blogs, there are a few enterprising individuals trying to work an angle on Twittering to bring in a little residual income. It certainly takes some imagination, as with 140 characters, there isn't a great lot that you can do .
Nevertheless, here are the two monetization options that I know of to date. These could be readily adapted to your own niche-targeted readership and are at least worth considering if you blog for a living, or are attempting to do so. I would be interested to hear any of any other methods that are being tested or used within the Twitter community.
- Affiliate links via Twitter
With a little imagination, it is possible to use Twitter to serve up well-targeted affiliate links. Imagination and cunning are key here, given that nobody is likely to stay your friend for long if you simply throw spam at them day-in day-out. I wouldn't recommend linking to a one-page web marketing site for your latest $99 ebook, or some hideous money-making scheme that will send users running to the "block" button on your account, never to receive your Tweets again.
However, one effective use of affiliate marketing I have seen is the excellent TwitterLit account. Twitterlit provides users with a daily quote, taken from the first line of a novel, and accompanied by a link to that novel at Amazon.com.
What makes this so effective is that it is interesting to receive and then click through when a well-chosen first-line takes your interest. As such, rather than feeling like spam, TwitterLit Tweets are actually welcomed as a source of entertainment. I doubt that the revenues are earth-shattering, but with enough time and enough followers applying this same principle could prove to be a profitable sideline for bloggers.
- Guerilla marketing
I am a lot less certain about how popular this next approach is likely to be with the Twitter community, but I guess that there would be nothing to lose by giving it a try with a test account if you were feeling particularly interested in leveraging the monetization potential of Twitter.
TwitCash gives you the chance to rent out your Tweets to advertisers and get paid 'per follower, per post'. TwitCash then charges $200 CPM to its advertisers, which strikes me as high, and delivers their message via signed-up users' accounts.
Given that users are paid 10 cents per active user that hasn't previously seen a message, this is unlikely to make anyone a millionaire (or even enough to buy lunch at Macdonalds), but the idea is an interesting one and a first effort at cashing in on the well-targeted networks within Twitter.
- Affiliate links via Twitter
Twitter is not only highly addictive, but also a great tool for bloggers looking to extend their audience, tap into the latest online news, make valuable contacts and even add an additional revenue stream to their line-up of monetization options.
In this short guide I have tried to demonstrate how you can:
- Tap into the wealth of knowledge accumulated across the Twitter network, whether for breaking the latest news, or just seeking out advice as you research your blog posts
- Promote your blog and online presence by using Twitter as both a bulletin board for your latest blog posts and a means to win loyal, regular readers
- Solve problems that you might not be able to crack yourself, by harnessing the power of crowd-sourcing
- Bring added-value content to your readers, extending the scope and range of your blog into a new, quick-fire medium
- Potentially add new earnings to your other sources of blog revenue
Most of all, above and beyond all of these points is that Twitter can be immense fun, and a great way to keep in touch with people you know, and make new contacts you have long considered speaking to.
Twitter has already gained enormous popularity, and shows no signs of slowing down its growth just yet. As such it is well worth engaging with at whatever level you feel comfortable if you are looking to expand your blog readership and extend your online presence.
If you would like to read more tips and tricks for Twitter users, you might want to take a look at the following links:
- Slacker Manager's excellent 'Several Habits of Wildly Successful Twitter Users'
- Steve Rubel's simple Twitter search
- Lifehack.org on '5 Ways to Use Twitter for Good'
- Twitter Fan Wiki - an extensive resource on all things Twitter
- John Tropea's excellent 'Twitter Tips and Tricks!'
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Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "A Bloggers Guide To Twitter: Ten Ways To Leverage The Power Of Twitter For Your Blog"
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