This week marks the official launch of http://Hiking-Blogs.net, a new Hiking Web Site Directory that contains links to international hiking-blogs, trail associations, gear manufacturers, trail guides, and hiking reference sites.
The basic premise of the Hiking-Blogs Directory is simple – to provide an up-to-date list of hiking-blogs and related hiking sites so readers can easily discover new blogs and know that they are still active.
There’s a very real need for this kind of resource – unfortunately too many blogroll link lists are outdated, containing dead links or links to abandoned hiking blogs that haven’t been updated in years. The problem is rampant in the blog-o-sphere and makes it difficult for readers to discover new hiking blogs that coincide with their interests.
Hiking-Blogs.net takes a very different approach to keeping its links up-to-date. Built on WordPress, it automatically detects when hiking blogs have been abandoned or taken down and flags them for removal from the directory. The Hiking-Blogs.net directory also dynamically updates the home page screenshot of listed blogs or sites whenever they publish a new post or change their site design.
Blog and Site Listings
The listings in Hiking-Blogs.net are not just limited to hiking blogs, but include other types of handy information and sites that hikers like to refer to in order to find new gear, learn new skills, plan trips, or to volunteer with a trail or conservation association.
There are five types of listing cataloged in the Hiking-Blogs.net directory:
- Hiking Blogs – celebrating all types of hiking from day hiking and peakbagging, to backpacking, hill walking, thru-hiking, section hiking, and bushwhacking.
- Trail Associations - web sites for organizations that perform trail maintenance or oversee conservation efforts. We are happy to support and publicize your efforts on hikers’ behalf.
- Gear Manufacturers – manufacturers that specialize in hiking or backpacking specific gear. This includes so-called cottage manufacturers as well as larger gear manufacturers.
- Trail Guides – web sites whose primary focus is to help hikers find hiking trails and plan trips.
- Reference Sites – web sites which have published reference information that is useful to hikers, but which are not blogs themselves.
For more information about Blog and Site listings, see the Hiking-Blogs.net Submission Guidelines.
Reader Voting and Recommendations
Readers have the option to vote up their favorite blogs or sites in order to recommend them to other readers. This is a great way to thank a site that provides useful content and helps them attract more readers.
Voting for a site is simple, but you need to login to Hiking-Blogs.net in order to prevent ballot box stuffing.
This is easy using an existing social media account so you don’t have to remember a new site password.
Hiking-Blogs.net Directory Sponsorship
Hiking-Blogs.net is a sponsored by gear manufacturers and other hiking-related businesses. To become a sponsor, companies agree to randomly raffle $250 USD worth of gear or services to readers who visit the site or bloggers listed in the directory. In exchange, their company logo or a banner ad is displayed in the right hand column of the directory for 6 months on all pages served by the site.
It’s a very simple sponsorship model and a win-win for everyone. All raffle gear is passed along to Hiking-Blog.net readers, and bloggers who’ve listed their site in the directory or updated their blog listings with blog descriptions, tag words, and social media links.
If you’re interested in becoming a Hiking-Blogs.net sponsor, please contact me using this form.
For hiking bloggers, the directory provides another way to help them grow their audience and be discovered by readers or gear manufacturers looking for product reviewers.
Listings include a blog or site title, description, tags, and social media links to Facebook pages, Twitter, Google+ and RSS, making it very easy for readers to connect to you, even if this information is not listed on your blog’s home page.
Bloggers who Submit New Listings to the Hiking-Blogs.net directory are encouraged to provide longish descriptions about the content of their blogs to improve their search engine performance.
If there’s already a listing for your blog or web site in the directory but you never submitted one, it’s because I entered a skeleton description for you based on my personal list of hiking blogs and online resources. If you want to change that listing so that it generates more search results, add tags to it, or add your social media links, use the Update Site Listing form to make changes.
Bloggers need to submit or update their listing to be eligible for sponsor raffles. Once you’ve done this, you will be eligible for ALL future sponsor raffles going forward.
Social Media Integration
Whenever a blog listed in the directory publishes a new post, a hyperlink to it are published on the @HikingBlogs Twitter feed and Hiking-Blogs Facebook Page. A lot of readers prefer to get new updates via Facebook and Twitter and this gives them the ability to tap into a steady stream of new blog posts on their preferred social network, along with the opportunity to discover new blogs and bloggers.
In addition, bloggers receive additional link juice (Google Page Rank) when their posts are hyper-linked to updates on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll add this same capability for Google+, when Google opens up their post API.
Gossamer Gear Sponsors Inaugural Raffle
The inaugural raffle on Hiking-Blogs.net is sponsored by Gossamer Gear, a well known maker of ultralight backpacks, carbon fiber hiking poles, and ultralight shelters.
The Grand Prize for this random drawing is your choice of any of Gossamer Gear’s new 2012 Dyneema backpacks, including The Murmur Hyperlite, The Kumo Superlight, The Gorilla or the Mariposa Plus. The maximum value of this prize is $250.
To be eligible, you must first submit an new hiking blog listing to the Hiking-Blogs.net directory or update an existing listing that I made for your site using the update site listing form. After you submit your blog listing information, it must be approved by the Hiking-Blogs.net editor in order for you to participate in the backpack drawing.
If you’ve already submitted a new listing to the Hiking-Blogs.net directory or updated an existing one, you’re already eligible for this and all future blogger raffles on Hiking-Blogs.net.
The deadline to enter or update your blog information is August 31, 2012 at midnight, PST. The winner will be announced within two weeks, after the end of the entry period.
If you have any questions about this raffle, please submit them using this form.
Why am I doing this?
No doubt you’re wondering why I’m hosting and administering this new Hiking Directory and what’s in it for me. To be honest, I’m doing it because it’s saving me a huge amount of time. Before I set up Hiking-Blogs.net, I had hundreds of blogs, gear manufacturers, reference sites, trail guides, and reference site bookmarks scattered all over the place on different computers and in different browser bookmark lists.
Centralizing that ungodly mess and putting it up on WordPress in the Cloud makes it much easier for me to keep it dynamically up-to-date and accessible from anywhere. Since others can benefit from it, I decided to shared it with the rest of the hiking community.
Call me crazy, but I also still believe that when you give something away for free, you get back more than you invest. That’s certainly been my experience with my hiking blog SectionHiker.com and my content marketing consultancy at FellsPress.com. It’s the same reason I give dozens of free talks about hiking every year, teach classes and lead hiking and backpacking trips for the Appalachian Mountain Club, and maintain a hiking trail for the US Forest Service.
These volunteer activities have opened up many new opportunities for me and you’d be amazed by the good will that is generated when you help others without an expectation of reward. A little Trail Magic can go a long way.