So, you’ve decided to write a blog? Excellent. It’s not a massive revelation that starting a blog is usually the most exciting part. You’re overflowing with new ideas; you’re researching new materials and new angles; you’re putting together an awesome content calendar stuffed to the rafters with killer posts; everything is possible when everything is theoretical.
Getting started is easy. Gaining momentum? Not so much.
Why? Because a blog, no matter how eloquent, informational or fun, will go unread unless you’re able to attract an audience. Advertising your blog can be a grind and it takes energy, attention, and work. The payoff for successfully advertising your blog, for finding a dedicated readership, is nothing to sniff at (just ask Arianna Huffington). So, knuckle down and read on for some proven strategies for successfully advertising your blog.
Part One: The Basics
Let’s call your blog what it is: a product (even if you’re using it to sell other products). If you’re selling a product and want to tell people about it, isn’t it easier to sell an awesome, innovative, interesting, or otherwise really cool product? Your blog needs to stand on its own to stand out to others. A good product almost sells itself. Here’s four things to think about:
- Make it Helpful: When you’re writing a post, or designing your content calendar, think about your target audience and structure your content to serve them. What are you trying to do with your blog? Engage people and drive traffic either to your site or to one of your other products. If you’re putting up posts just for the sake of creating content you’re not adding value to your blog or your brand.
- Be Essential: You want your blog to be unique. That is much easier said than done, but everyone has something unique to offer in their own space. Make sure your audience knows what makes reading your blog essential to them. What is the unique perspective you offer that they can’t get other places? What advice/knowledge/truth are you giving that they can’t get elsewhere?
- Be Interesting: Sounds obvious when you just read those two words but take them to heart. Tell stories, make quips, make your blog lively. People learn more from a story than a dry statement of facts, and they value that.
- Keep Up with Trends: there are multiple tools to do this on today’s internet (but face it Google Trends is probably all you need). If something is climbing to the top of the search engine charts write a post that takes on the subject, either pro or con. Being relevant is part of being interesting.
Part Two: The Tactics
If the first part was about being awesome, then this part is about being proactive. Advertising a blog takes multiple concurrent approaches – it can be a grind at times, but once you establish a rhythm and a standard, you will begin to see growth.
The look and feel of your blog should be appealing. Humans are visual animals and a standout blog will be full of striking images laid out with an eye towards design. In a medium like the internet that rewards short attention spans, an interesting layout will hold people’s attention longer and increase click-throughs.
Images will add visual impact, again, keeping your audience engaged, but images offer another benefit that is more closely linked to the advertising angle of this article. If you include multiple exciting images your blog will become visible in image searches and the images you use will show up on sites such as Pinterest and Facebook. Having visibility in those spaces simply from including a photo is a tried and effective way to increase your visibility. Two things you should remember about images:
- Make Them Original: don’t skimp on your design. Everyone knows what a stock image says. It says, “Meh.”
- Ad Text Overlay: adding text to your image will help clarity in your posts and will add context when they appear in other places.
Networking, Relationships, Cross Promotion
In the blogging world, networking is paramount. Getting exposure and getting your blog seen is as much about connecting with other creators as it is spending ad dollars. In fact, it’s probably more about relationships.
What do these relationships look like? They take a couple forms, and while they don’t look like traditional advertising, the internet is not a traditional medium. These relationships boil down to cross promotion. Either a more established blog will share your blog post, promoting it to their followers, or you will write a guest post on another, again more established, blog demonstrating your quality and leaving a helpful link to your content.
The best way to begin this sort of promotion is to look in your own community. Start with people you may know, or, failing that, people in a similar field or at a similar level. Be active and positive in social media and in comment sections. Share other people’s content voluntarily and create a real relationship with other bloggers. Cross promotion works best from this foundation rather than sending the equivalent of a cold call asking for a hand out.
The importance of social media in advertising your blog can’t be overstated. There is an argument to be made that the most important ad dollars you will spend will be on Facebook. Facebook ads make your posts more visible to people who follow or like your page. With quality content a blog can spread quickly through these channels. Aside from networking as mentioned above, social media as an advertising tool has massive potential reach. Here are four post strategies to increase your social media presence:
- Timing is Everything: Use the analytic tools provided by social media platforms to time your posts to when your audience is most likely to see it. If they don’t see your post, they can’t engage with it.
- Be Everywhere: You should have a presence on multiple social media. Post your content to all of them. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In, Google +, all of them.
- Multiply: Post the same content multiple times in a day. You will reach more people with differing schedules – and time zones.
- Evergreen: Create content that is “evergreen”, that will be relevant no matter when you post it, and revisit it. You should always have a library of content to draw from if you’re looking for something to add to your social media channels.
It’s funny to think that email seems like an older technology, but regardless of how fast everything moves on the web, email is still an effective advertising tool. You can use email to promote yourself either through engagement with your audience or as a personal networking tool.
As it relates to networking, if you mention another blogger in a tweet or Facebook post, try emailing them as well. This adds a personal touch that makes the person whose exposure you’re courting more likely to help you.
While on the subject of email, it might seem obvious, but establish an email list for a newsletter on your blog. Initially this won’t have much of a draw, but as you grow more people will want to be better connected to you and your content. Early on you can establish what is called a lead magnet. This is a piece of content or a service that a prospective lead finds valuable that you will give them in exchange for their email address. What this looks like will be unique to your blog, but once you have a lead’s email you will be able to deliver more unique and compelling content (or offers) directly to them.
The Call to Action
This is the end of this short primer on advertising your blog, and, just as all your’s should end with one, this post ends with a call to action. The tools you need to advertise your blog are there for the taking. You can do it if you’ve got the determination.