Written by Matt O @boardinogilvie
"Blogs are evolving and artists aren’t releasing music how they did in the past."
The 'So You Want To Be A Blogger' panel at the A3C Conference and Festival was a panel I was not going to miss. I started blogging back in 2011 while attending college but didn't start doing it on a consistent basis until the end of 2013. I had high expectations for the hour-long discussion of blogs and their importance and they delivered. The blogging panel was sponsored by Hip Hop Bloggers United, a website of associated Hip-Hop blogs. One of the main topics we talked about was a blogger's integrity and originality. Great content is becoming more important and will be even more crucial in 2016.
“If you are going to start a blog, be committed. You need to put out original content on a consistent basis.”
Artists can also benefit from having a blog on their website. It can be a great driver of traffic and used as an awareness tool. Artists aren’t releasing music how they did in the past either. Some artists are releasing music exclusively on websites like DatPiff, My Mixtapes, or their own website. I met the owners of Get That Paper Son, a music blog, who are both artists as well. They started the blog to gain followers then promote their music. That's just one way to drive traffic though. Some artists post trendy-content and get people to their site that way.
"Always be true to your brand and have a voice."
Whether you are an artist or a blogger, you need to stay consistent with your vision and mission. You also can’t just live on the Internet. You need to get out to events and meet the people. Don't forget that the Hip-Hop culture started in person. I am in a very fortunate situation living in New York City. There are countless Hip-Hop events going on every night that I can attend and network at. I definitely take advantage of it and it has paid off in the past.
"Make sure your site is optimized for mobile!"
Let's get into some of the basics of blogging. Every panel member (and myself) highly recommend you use WordPress to create your website and blog. It has full customization, great plugins, and it's easy to use. It is the industry standard for a reason. They also addressed the importance of having a custom domain name like UpcomingHipHop.net. It makes your brand look more professional. You will also need to make sure your site is optimized for mobile. Mobile is extremely important now and will become more important next year. More than half of our visitors view our site on mobile. Once you have your website up and optimized, make sure you include a contact page and a search bar. Users should have a hard time navigated through your site. The two plugins the panel talked about the most focused on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Social Sharing. Yoast SEO is the go-to SEO plugin and Add This, Ultimate Social Icons, and If This Then That were named great social sharing plugins. When it comes to actually writing the post, NEVER copy-and-paste and don’t over-tag your posts. Ten to fifteen key tags will suffice.
"Google penalizes you for duplicate content."
I don't think I can stress the importance of original content. Google's algorithm changes every few months and it's getting better at crawling your blog. Google rewards websites with original content higher on the search page. This makes a perfect transition to their last topic; Social Media. Facebook also changes all the time. According to the panel, posting a photo with a link in the status drives the highest engagement.
“Educate. Entertain. Engage. Don’t just be a link-dropper."
Social media is very important to blogging because it is the main place to promote your content. You can start with sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and the list goes on. Facebook seems to be the highest driver of traffic and impressions. They talked about the 80-20 rule and it's importance in relation to social media. 80% of the time you should be educating, entertaining, or engaging with your followers. 20% of the time you should be promoting or selling. If you don't know how or what to post on social media, start with what you would want to see. Also, don't judge websites or artists by the number of followers they have. Followers can easily be bought. Look at ENGAGEMENT. If they have 10,000 followers and 1 like and 1 comment something doesn't add up. Try to build relationships with social media influencers. A social media influencer is someone who has a large, influential social media following. A paid placement with an influencer can be very beneficial. Just make sure to do your research. You can find a list of social influencers on Instabrand.