Once you've discovered your passion for online media through a niche where you have expertise and significant reach, how can you grow even bigger and nurture a community of people who share your interests?
Although there is no perfect path to fame and recognition (hopefully some measure of fortune will follow), I've grown a humble personal electronics blog into a five-factor online media organization that is helping me to become a thought leader in social media for black entrepreneurs. Consider the following as ways to grow your own media conglomerate:
Start with a blog.
A blog is at the foundation of your social media campaign. You will use your blog to frequently comment and post about those individuals and activities in your niche of interest to you and your target audience. Individuals will subscribe to your blog while you bookmark entries from your blog and send status updates about your blog to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and other social sites. As you become popular, and assuming your content is pretty good, people in your niche and elsewhere will link to your blog as an authority site.
When searches are conducted on your subject matter area, your weblog will be at the top of the search results. Your blog can become a powerful marketing tool all by itself. You should use other marketing efforts to exploit the strength of your blog as visitors join your community and your related sites while inviting their friends to so the same. You can see what I mean by looking at my blog at IcemanBaldy.com. My blog does well in managing my brand by itself while also pointing to several of my other web properties and building a community at the same time.
Organize a social network.
Ning is one of several free platforms available for creating your own social network. I use Ning to host BlackWebpreneur Network. BlackWebpreneur is a place for collaboration between business owners who have on online presence or who need to establish an online presence. Each member can create a profile page that highlights their expertise while posting content to an integrated blog along with pictures, video, and music of their choosing. All of the individual member contributions work together to create member-driven content for the benefit of all on the network.
Beyond using profiles to establish an online presence and connect with other entrepreneurs, there are also opportunities to interact with others in forum discussions and groups that can be created by members. By being the owner of your network, you become a de facto information maven and a key influencer in your niche.
Administer a topical forum.
Topical forums are very similar to social networks but use threaded discussion board formats which are preferred by some users over the multimedia bias of social networking profile formats. Topical forums tend to be better for search engine optimization and informational searches generally. It's also easier to grow forums as the registration requirements tend to be more straightforward and users find updates and content easier to follow. You can visit my forum at Black Internet Marketing Forum.
I like having my own forum even more than having my own network because I own the system software, the content and the server space and don't need to rely on a platform provider and whatever changes that provider might decide to make on the system that can work to my benefit or detriment.
Become the Source of News in Your Niche.
This is a relatively new area for me. If your blog has a well-defined topical area, you may not need to fuss with this one. I've decided to use my blog for industry insight and personal commentary while trying my hand at an online newspaper focused on black entrepreneurial challenges during the start-up and early phases and using profiles of other entrepreneurs as encouragement and inspiration. Of course, the newspaper points back to my other web properties and does its part to grow my overall network and enhance my expertise. Check it out at The Hustletown Chronicle.
As your influence grows, you can use your combined online media presence to develop other offerings in your niche. Establish additional streams of revenue by offering products and services (books, seminars, consulting) that meet the needs of your niche. Your blog, forum, network or other web properties can provide excellent exposure for these offerings and many more. Capture attention through your blog content. Create interest by engaging your audience through your helpful expertise and social interactions. As your relationship with your target audience grows, capitalize on their desire to use your expertise in further developing their business. If you've been effective in your efforts to provide long-term value for your target audience, actions that generate ongoing revenue will encourage you to continue growing at an appropriate pace.