You’ve created, or revived, your blog. Good on ya! Erm...now what?
We’ll tell you what, now it’s time for promotion. Yes, yes, we know, “Promotion” has a bad wrap in some circles. We think that’s a shame. In fact, people who hear "promotion" and cringe likely do so because of outdated ideas of what promotion means and how it’s done. Today, we’re going to cover how to promote your blog. What follows are four simple ways to promote your fledgling (or well established) blog, without making you feel like you’ve sold your soul.
Before we begin, a note on assumptions. As in, we’re assuming you’re already creating great, relevant, and engaging content for your audience. That means we’re also assuming you know who your audience is, and are targeting your content for them. People want to read your content because it helps them in some way. For example, if you write a DIY blog, your content is about such things as how to rebuild a sagging shelf, for example. Or if you write about health and wellness, your readers know they’ll find tips on staying in shape or keeping their stress levels down.
We’ll be covering some of this momentarily, so don’t worry if one of our assumptions missed the mark—we've got your back.
1. Create and nurture relationships.
Let’s start big. This strategy is proven, time-honored, and definitely takes the long view of promotion. Face it, a blog is not a short-term entity. You didn’t create this content with the aim of bringing in big money next week, then shutting it down next month, right? If you did, you may want to consider other options.
This strategy can take several forms:
Email outreach. This is a powerful way to recruit influencers in your niche, when it’s done right. We’re not talking about cold-emailing people. Cold-emailing is this decade’s version of the marketing call during dinner. Don’t be that person.
What we are talking about is cultivating a relationship with these influencers by reading their content, making thoughtful, and thought provoking comments on their blogs, then taking it to the next level by emailing them directly with a pitch for X (guest posts, a mention in their next piece, sharing your content with their followers, etc.).
Social media conversations. Build and cultivate your following on the social media channels of your choosing. Share others' content. Comment on their pieces. Respond to their comments on your pieces. Then, when the time is right, you can make the ask. Whether you’re asking an influencer for a share, or asking your followers to click through to download an ebook (and collecting their contact info for future campaigns, of course).
Make these interactions real, be your authentic self, and remember to not just comment, but comment with context. “Great post!” has no context and just sounds disingenuous and flimsy. “Great post! I especially love how you invoke Thoreau when you say…” is now a thought provoking comment that shows you read and truly digested the piece, and are now looking to start a conversation with the author. These comments create a lasting impression on the creator and ensure they’ll remember you when/if you come to them with an ask.
This strategy has the potential to pay off BIG TIME. Once you’re a known entity, not only can you ask favors of other creators, you’ll be positioning yourself as a new expert on your topic. This means followers will start sharing your content with their followers/friends, expanding your reach organically.
2) Create visual content.
Humans are visual creatures, take advantage of that fact.
Creating infographics and other eye-catching images and graphics allows you to convey information on your topic or niche in unique ways that can draw more eyes to your other content. These new eyes will be folks who may not generally read longer pieces without knowing more about the author, or they may be people who are new to your niche and are searching the web for new sources of content. Your catchy graphics are the eye candy that can lead to them finding the rest of your content and becoming dedicated readers.
Bonus: you can reuse this content, over, and over, and over, without it losing its power. Let’s say your blog covers the world of tabletop gaming. That market is taking off right now, so it’s likely to be pretty crowded. Create a colorful infographic with your top 5 entry-level games, something with brief summaries of the games and a great image of the characters for each.
Now you can blast that out over your social channels, using relevant hashtags to attract those who would benefit from seeing it, and linking it back to a longer piece you wrote a while ago that covers these 5 games in more detail. Then, in a month or so, you can use the same graphic for your email newsletter encouraging your readers to invite their newbie friends to give you a follow. And then, in 3 months, you can use the same graphic for a content page where visitors can click through to request the ebook you just finished that outlines all the wonderful ways tabletop gaming brings joy and peace to the world. That last part might be wishful thinking on our part, but you get the idea.
These sort of graphics are so useful. As long as you have great evergreen content you can link to, they can be used repeatedly for varying campaigns and promotions throughout the life of your blog.
3) Do your research.
This may go without saying at this point, but we’re going to say it anyway. Do. Your. Research.
This may not seem like promotion, but it is. After all, how can you target influencers to share your content if you have no idea who your content should be targeting? How can you set up a PPC campaign (pay-per-click, or banner ads) if you don’t know who you want to see your ads? Once again, there are several aspects to this step in the promotion machine:
Audience research. Who is going to benefit from reading your content? Is there an untapped need in a different demographic that you’d like to reach as well?
Keyword research. This is how you target your content to the audience you just discovered. By researching what they’re searching for on Google, you can tailor your content to fit those parameters. Now you’re creating SEO juice that will ultimately lead to your pages ranking at the top for your chosen keywords.
The key to remember here is that without a firm foundation of research, a solid idea of your target audience, and a plan to incorporate the keywords that you need in order to find that audience for your blog—all of your other promotion work will be for naught.
What is content marketing, after all, but creating relevant, informative content and getting it in front of the people who need it? To do so, you must do your research.
4) Be social.
Admit it, you saw this one coming.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to inundate you right now...that’s for another post, on another day. For our purposes here and now, what you need to know is that social media is here to stay, and that it is an extremely powerful way to extend your reach and promote your content.
Posting is easy with the myriad of automation tools that exist. You can line up your content to be posted on a regular schedule. Then, using a platform like Buffer or Hootsuite, you can repost this content to your chosen social media channels. You can even schedule to repost these items several times over the first day or two, increasing your reach and promoting your content even further.
What you need to remember among all this automation is to be present. You want to interact in real time with your followers. Should someone share your new content, you want to be sure to thank them that same day to stay fresh and relevant in their minds.
Mutual promotion matters, so along with these tips, remember to like and share other creator's content that is relevant to your audience. This will expand your reach, improve your relationships, and multiply the impact of your blog promotion activities.