Whether you’re a new blogger or an experienced one, unless you have an existing subscriber base of hundreds of thousands of engaged users – promotion is probably something you struggle with on a day to day basis. That’s okay, you’re in the majority.
It’s always the same story: There’s always some or the other new hack that catches on, everyone starts doing it, it works for a while, then the community self-corrects and that tactic becomes practically useless. But there are some tactics that are less susceptible to such bubble bursts. In this post, we’re going to look at some tactics from the former category (so that you can stop doing them) and some from the latter (so that you can do more of them).
Tactics That Don’t Work
Before we start talking about the tactics that work, I’d like to briefly touch upon some that really don’t work anymore – so that you can save yourself time and effort by not working on them.
This is not to say that these methods are totally useless, they may have their own unique place and purpose, but if blog promotion is your end goal, these aren’t the best ways to go about it.
1. Stop commenting on other blogs
In the early days, when blogging was still a relatively new phenomenon, commenting on popular posts used to be a great way to drive some referral traffic your way – but it’s been completely ruined by overuse now. The most you can hope to achieve is establish a channel of communication with a popular blogger, but there are better ways to do that.
2. Stop sending press releases
Traditionally speaking, a press release is a marketing tool used by established product and service companies to get featured by the media. And that’s probably where they are most effective. As a blogger, you’ll find limited success with press releases in terms of generating links or traffic – and even those you do generate will likely be untargeted and therefore of little consequence.
3. Stop submitting posts to directories
Unless you’re submitting to a high-quality, human-edited directory of content – pushing your posts and blog in blog directories will yield no result. Realistically speaking, users don’t thumb through blog directories to find information anymore; they just ask on social media or do a quick Google search. Even the SEO benefits of submitting to directories doesn’t exist now.
4. Stop interacting on internet forums
Okay, so this is in fact something that can drive some traffic and also build your reputation as an expert within a forum, but if you were to quantify it by measuring the traffic you get in relation to the time you put in – it would make little sense to continue. Forum interactions are to online marketing what water cooler conversations are to the office – a convincing distraction.
5. Stop creating YouTube videos
Sure… there are more YouTube millionaires now than you can count on your fingers, but here’s a critical difference between them and you – for most of them, YouTube is their main gig. Since that’s where their main focus is, it’s easier to put their entire weight behind it. The success of a YouTube channel, beside the production quality, also depends heavily on the content that’s being published – certain types of content such as beauty and food at just better suited to it, as compared to let’s say, B2B topics.
Of course, these aren’t the only ineffective methods people employ to promote their blog – these are just the most common ones. When testing the effectiveness of any promotional tactic, fail early and fail fast, then move on to the next one instead of hitting your head against the wall.
Tactics That Do Work
Great, coming to the good part of the this post – here are some tactics that do work – or rather have worked for both us and the publishers in our network, albeit with varying degrees of success.
Your mileage will certainly vary with each one of them. The idea is to test each one of them and form a promotion plan that works best for you.
1. Start Advertising
A lot of bloggers either take a negative view or just have incorrect notions about advertising such as:
- Advertising is intrusive and a disservice to users
- If I make great stuff, I won’t need to advertise
- Advertising is for those who have a lot of money
- Advertising is ineffective
The fact is that advertising – especially online advertising – is a highly potent promotional tool that can return some amazing results if used wisely. Not all mediums of advertising were made equal, so one has to be careful while selecting mediums and closely monitor campaigns for performance.
We, for instance, run blog subscription campaigns on Facebook and Twitter with varying degrees of success. On Twitter, we’ve had 229 conversions with a spend of $372, which equals to a CPL of $1.62. For Facebook campaigns, that number is $1.12. AdWords has of late gotten too expensive, but it offers a higher control over user targeting, so the conversation rate is higher.
In all, we added 1466 subscribers in a week using Facebook and Twitter advertising. It’s a great way to speed up your list-building process, especially for newer blogs that essentially exist in a vacuum until they build a critical mass of subscribers.
Yes, it costs money, all valuable things do.
2. Start Guest blogging
Sure, Matt Cutts succinctly declared that, “Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done.” But he meant that in a very specific sense for people who just blatantly exploit guest blogging by peddling low-quality content in bulk using hacky means, hoping to see gains in their search engine rankings.
Obviously, they won’t. The web spam team at Google is smarter than that. Here’s what Matt had to say when a user asked what they should consider before guest blogging:
“I won’t recommend that you make it your only way of gathering links. I wouldn’t recommend that you send out thousands of blast emails off offering to guest blog. I wouldn’t recommend that you guest blog with the same article on two different blogs. I wouldn’t recommend that you take one article and spin it lots of times.”
Notice that at no point does Matt state that you shouldn’t guest blog or that Google will penalize you for guest blogging, just that it will penalize you for exploiting guest blogging. And that’s okay.
If done right though, guest blogging can still help you gain visibility for your personal brand, product, or service and eventually establish yourself as a subject matter expert.
But hey, don’t just take my word for it.
Look at Buffer App, in his interview to Search Engine Watch, their co-founder Leo mentions that they gained 100,000 subscribers within a nine month period doing nothing but guest blogging. It also worked well for Groove as they managed to reach over 1 million people using it.
So it’s not that guest blogging doesn’t work, it’s just that badly done guest blogging doesn’t work.
3. Start Doing Blogger Outreach
Have you ever noticed how some bloggers just appear out of nowhere and suddenly take over your social feeds? Maybe you’ve been publishing similar content, or even better content, which just makes it all the more infuriating. Clearly, they’re on to something. All things being equal, chances are that they’re doing a much better job of promoting their content than you are.
There are so many blogs out there with invaluable content that never gets noticed because the blogger never made a planned and concentrated effort to get their content in front of people who matter. Creating great content is only half the task, the other half is to actually get people to read it.
Blogger outreach is a great way to do this. Essentially, it involves building relationships with authority figures in your particular niche and then staying on their radar by helping them, interacting with them, and sharing your content with them. Like any promotional tactic, this too needs to be meticulously tracked and measured – even more so – because measuring relationships doesn’t come naturally to us.
Boost Blog Traffic has an outstanding and rather exhaustive guide on how to get influencers to share your content for free if you’re looking for how to get started on this. If doing everything manually sounds like too much work, there are softwares such as Ninja Outreach now that are specifically designed to help you plan, execute, and stay on top of your outreach campaigns.
4. Start Posting Expert Roundups & Interviews
One of the best ways to promote your blog, getting experts involved in your content creation and promotion process can help you drive traffic and get noticed by a much wider network of readers.
A few months ago, we created a post that profiled 30 Tech and Social Bloggers that went on to be the most shared post for that month. Why was this? Because a few of the bloggers profiled in the post decided to share it on their networks – which usually have a sizeable amount of followers.
Profiling is just one way to go about it; you can also make a list of experts and ask them to share their knowledge or advice on something you know your readers would be interested in learning about, and then compile and present the answers in an easily digestible manner.
You can also take excerpts from previously published posts and create a new post of out that, then send an email to all the bloggers whose content you republished, requesting them to share it.
Finally, interviewing is great when you want to dig deeper into a particular topic with a single expert. Besides building an impressive repository of unique content for your website over a period of time, you also usually get the help of the interviewee in promoting the post after publication.
5. Start Being More Visual
Humans are visual creatures; it’s been found that we decode visual information 600,000X faster than text, which explains why well-made infographics go viral with much more frequency than regular posts. Although it’s true that the original craze of infographics has died down a bit because of overuse – they still remain a powerful tool to get noticed if your data is intriguing and the visualization is top notch.
Besides social sharing, you can also extract some SEO value by sending infographics to other bloggers and requesting a source link – you’d be surprised by the conversion rate of such queries. There are many niche agencies like Lemony and Killer Infographics that specialize in designing infographics, but you can also find some very competent designers on Dribbble if you’re on a tight budget.
But infographics are only one part of making your blog more visual, you need to start thinking about the quality of every visual used on the blog – from the featured image to the images and graphics that you insert inside the posts. Most users will subconsciously judge the visual quality of a blog, grade it against the many others that they visit, and quickly form an overall impression of your blog. Make sure you don’t give them a reason to form a bad one.
Your turn. How do you promote your blog?