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Blogging 201: Make Your Blog a Hub

Create a page or section on your blog to display links to your online presence elsewhere — and make sure other sites you use reflect your brand.

Welcome to Blogging U! This course isn't currently active, but you can learn more about what we offer and register for upcoming courses on the BU home page.

Remember, comments are closed on Blogging U. assignments. If you have a question, or want to share or chat, head to The Commons.

The internet is a big playground. If you’re serious about your development as an online publisher, you need to think about opportunities beyond your blog, with your blog as your digital homestead.

Think of your site as a space to develop your online presence and personal brand strategically, promote your work in a way that makes sense for you, and connect and share your other projects and work across the web: a hub for you, as well as a place to publish posts.

If this assignment doesn’t fit with your blog and mesh with your goals, use today to finish up anything pending from the first eight days, then spend some time reading and commenting on other participants’ blogs.

Today’s assignment: create a page or section on your blog to display links to your online presence elsewhere, and make sure your other presences reflect the brand you’re developing on your blog.

Why do this?

  • Because as online publishers, our work is naturally scattered across the web — you want your readers and followers to find you. Building your personal brand means expanding your reach beyond your blog while keeping it the focus.
  • Because sometimes you have material that doesn’t quite fit on your site, and you want to make this complementary work accessible.

We hear what you’re asking: “I’ve just gotten comfortable and cozy blogging on WordPress.com — now you’re telling me to publish elsewhere? And didn’t we just spend two days dealing with social networks?”

The short answer is: you don’t have to do anything. If you’re happy simply blogging, then hooray! We’re glad. But since you’re here because you care about traffic and growth, we want to take time to discuss how expanding your presence on a few more platforms might benefit you, whether you’re a professional freelancer or aspiring writer (or poet, or photographer, or…). This isn’t about tweeting or status updates, but about spreading your substantive work across the web — and pointing it back to your blog.

Take Tumblr or Medium. Do you have experimental writing or work that’s very different from what you post on your blog — that you’re not quite sure belongs there? Do you have side projects that may complement what you publish on your blog? Extra material, or quotes you’ve compiled, or different types of media that you’d like to share?

You can see how some bloggers use Tumblr as a complementary space to their blogs; or learn how to use writing networks like Medium and Hi, or a photography platform like Exposure, as places to further your work.

If so, consider creating an account on a platform like Tumblr to test material. To publish work that relates to your content on your blog, but is not appropriate for it. To flesh out your online presence and offer additional outlets for your fans and followers to find you. Bloggers in specific industries might also contribute to niche networks: from food bloggers on the Food Bloggers Network, to photographers on 500px.com, to fashion bloggers on IFB. In addition, you might be part of a blogging collective here on WordPress.com, with guest posts published elsewhere. This work, too, is worth compiling on your blog.

In each of these cases, the ultimate benefit devolves onto your blog. These platforms give you a place to test material, play with unformed ideas, and attract fans that you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. In some cases, you may be able to cross-post content — take something you’ve published on your blog, and re-publish it on another network to double its exposure.

If you already do this, or join any other sites today, gather the links of your publishing outlets, the posts you’ve written elsewhere, and your profiles on networks to which you contribute. Then, create a new page on your blog to house these links. Decide how best to organize your links: if you’re just starting out, a simple list of links might suffice. If you write on a number of regular themes and topics, from travel to food to photography, create separate headings for each, with relevant links underneath. Or, if you’ve been at this for a while now — and your archive spans several years — consider creating sections by year, with each year featuring your best links.

Tip: If you don’t want to create a new page for your menu, add a Text Widget to your sidebar or footer, which offers a lot of control. In a Text Widget, you can add text, insert HTML for styling, compile links, and even add images.

Once the page is published, add it as an item to your custom menu. Place this tab next to your other essential menu items, like your About and “Best of” page. And remember: you and your work are constantly evolving. Revisit this page regularly to add your latest work, or swap out links to rotate your featured material.

Next, make sure your profiles on all these sites (and on social networks) reflect the branding you’re working so hard to develop for your blog. Use your Gravatar, logo, or header as a profile picture. Make sure your tagline and key points are worked into your descriptions. Above all, make sure all profiles include a link back to your blog. The goal here it not to dilute your blog, but to turn it into an HQ for you as your expertise and talent spreads across the web.

If you’re considering ways to spread your blogging wings, or if you’re already doing this and have tips to share, head to The Commons.

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