Extending Your Reach
I'm all about collaborative effort, and if there is anything I can do to not only help myself but help others, I'll be glad to put forth the work in order to do so.
Let's start, today's topic is "reach." No, we're not talking about getting food from the top shelves of cupboards or that weird brand of toothbrush either. More than a post, this is more of an open-ended question as to how one's site reaches the masses. Additionally, I want to take a look at what one can do to extend their site's reach. What is reach? My definition is simply, "the number of people can potentially see your site." Note the word usage, because we're not talking about actual visitors, we're talking about visitors you haven't sold over.
From the Beginning
Any sane person knows, the minute you open a site, you aren't going to be flooded by visitors. If you have done no prior marketing or advertising, nobody besides yourself knows about this wonderful baby you just birthed. Unless somebody by chance happens to type in your domain name, nobody will see it. Therefore, you have no reach. And you could leave it that way if you gain happiness from solitude. However, as you start to tell your family and friends about it, the process begins. Soon, you'll be emailing and IMing your friends saying, "hey check out my new site." On top of that, most design sites will probably showcase their new site (or portfolio, as is always the case) in forums such as SomethingLeet or Yaxay for critiques. In this case, "reach" can go hand-in-hand with "referral," in that referrals extend your reach. People will start to click on your link and if they happen to like what they see, they'll pass that knowledge to others, usually in the forms of plugs or reviews.
Putting Those Arms Out
Nobody's site gets popular overnight. Well, unless they have a friend with a loud voice, but we've already beaten that down pretty hard.
First things first. Would you want to read your content? Ask yourself and your peers that. If you're a resource site, are you reliable and credible? If you focus on humor, do people find you funny? Reason I bring this up is because you shouldn't be tooting a site that won't really make it with people in the first place. Now, I know we could go on and say that you shouldn't really care what other people think, but if you're really out to extend your reach, your readers are your lifeblood. So you're confident with your content? Great.
So now, put those arms out. The first people you should pass are your friends and peers. Don't be afraid to ask for link trading, article collaborations and joint projects. More than likely, they'll find a place for you, and vice versa. If you find a bigger site, such as Publish or Digital Web, email them if you feel your article would be a good addition to their archives. Hell, write an exclusive one for their site. Be an active participant of any blogs and communities that fall in your subject matter, and just in general. If people will find what you have to say interesting on a certain site's comments, more than likely they'll travel over to your site to see what you have to say. If you find a workgroup or a network that aligns with your site's content, try joining it. More than not, you're going to have to kick up your game a bit, but if you're in this for the long run it shouldn't be any trouble at all.
Great, you have a good subject matter, compelling articles and avid readers. Now it's time to put those readers to work. Keep in mind that good things promote themselves. If your content exceeds the reader's definition of a worthwhile article, then they'll either tell their peers about it. Whether it's through del.icio.us,
digg, Slashdot, or any applicable services/blogs, any time your articles are linked through one of these sites, your reach is extended. Just remember once again, good things promote themselves (and so do mediocre things with lots of popular friends, but let's not go there).
Passing Your Niche
This is by far the hardest thing to do. With anything, passing your comfort zone, or moving into a new realm can require some excessive work. Many don't take this route, and honestly, I don't know how one would go that far. I'm not close to anybody who has actually. But to me, it's getting those people who wouldn't necessarily look where you think they would. There's no link between you and them, so you have to create it yourself. Like the people who don't know what del.icio.us and digg are but people who might benefit from your writings. See how involved this can get?
Anyway, to end, I want to leave this open ended. In what ways have to broken your niche and extended your reach? Hopefully we can learn from each other on this one.