How to Promote Your Blog and Its Content
Summary: In the previous chapter, you learned that your blog content is the defining factor that will make or break your blog. You learned what it takes to create amazing content, as well as the types of content you can create for your audience. But your content will never help you succeed in blogging if no one ever sees it.
This is why you need to learn online marketing strategies to help you market your blog as a whole, as well as each piece of content you create. This is called content marketing. Your content marketing skills will determine how much traffic comes to your website, how many social shares you receive, how many comments are made on your posts and how many subscribers you gain.
Ultimately, the goal is to have as many visitors as possible when you start to monetize your blog. Visitors who you can convert into advertising clicks, affiliate referrals and product/service buyers—depending on your monetization strategy, which will be discussed in the next chapter.
Until then, let's look at the many ways you can promote your blog and your content.
Preparing for promotion
Before you start promoting your blog, you will want to make sure it's ready.
This step is checking everything you have done from previous chapters, from setting up your blog to creating your pages and posts.
Check if your core content is live and ready for promotion.
Test your menu bar and sidebar links to make sure pages, posts and archives open properly.
Test your blog on the top browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer) and see if everything looks right.
Check your contact info and test your contact form to see that it works well. Test your blog comment form to make sure people can easily leave comments.
Test your social sharing buttons so people can share your posts on the top social networks.
Test your social sharing buttons to make sure people can share your posts on the top social networks.
Give your visitors one or more ways to connect with you and subscribe to your blog including an option to subscribe by email.
Setup Google Analytics to track your visitors, where they come from and top content pages on your website.
At the start, you will have three main goals for promoting your blog.
You need to get the word out about your new blog so that those interested in your niche can find your blog, consume your content and spread the word.
Focus on becoming an authority and gaining trust from your readers and from other influencers within your niche. Build relationships with top bloggers in complementary topic areas and strive to enhance your name and credibility.
Engagement with your niche market happens every time anyone mentions your blog. When people start discussing your content, be sure to join into the discussion wherever it may be, including on your blog, social networks, forums, etc.
Think of these goals in everything you do while promoting your blog. Your goals are to get exposure for the blog, establish yourself as an authority and engage with your niche audience.
Ways to promote your blog
Now, let's look at the ways you can promote your blog as a whole. These are especially important steps when you are just starting out.
Let your connections know about your new blog
Everyone who comes in contact with you should know that you have a blog. Some good ways to ensure this include the following.
Add your blog URL to your email signature so your email contacts can check it out. WiseStamp is a great app to try for anyone using Gmail or other browser-based email systems. It will even pull in your latest blog post into your signature.
Add your blog URL to the social profiles you use the most including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and so on. This way, whenever people find you on social media, they can discover your blog as well.
Add your blog URL to forum profiles and signatures where you participate in discussions, preferably related to your new blog's niche.
Add your blog URL to author bios of any sites you are already contributing to, including other blogs that you own. Maybe you already have a blog about photography and you are starting a blog about marketing. Your author bio and about page should link up to your new marketing blog.
Network with others at every opportunity
Attend networking events? Be sure to have a quick elevator pitch about your blog when they ask you what you do. If you're at a blogging conference in particular, it's highly acceptable to let people know that you founded yourdomain.com, a blog that helps people learn more about your subject matter. Even if you have a day job that you need to promote, your elevator pitch would be that you are a [your job title], and you also run yourdomain.com, a blog that helps people learn more about your subject matter.
Submit your blog to search engines
In Chapter 3, we suggested a plugin called Yoast SEO. One of the features of this plugin allows you to create a custom sitemap for your blog. You can use this sitemap to submit your blog to search engines through Google Webmaster Tools (for Google) and Bing Webmaster Tools (for Bing and Yahoo).
Submit your blog to directories
While there are hundreds of directories that will list your blog for a specific yearly or permanent fee listing, only a handful should be considered in terms of quality. These include DMOZ (free, but hard to get into), Best of the Web Blogs ($150 for submission), EatonWeb Blog Directory ($35 for submission), and Yahoo Directory ($299 for 7-day listing guarantee). Some of these directories offer free listings as well, but you will be waiting a very, very long time to see yours get added, assuming they add it at all.
Comment on other blogs
Commenting on other relevant blogs is a great way to build relationships with top bloggers within your niche. Research the web to find top blogs in your niche and start commenting on their newest posts. This will help you make them and their readers aware of your existence as well as developing your own authority within the niche.
Contribute to other blogs in your niche
Matt Cutts, Google's head of webspam, has denounced guest blogging as a tactic for SEO. With that said, it's still a great way to get exposure within your niche so long as you are submitting quality content to quality blogs. Find blogs that have lots of social shares and community engagement as judged by the number of comments per post and social followers. Get to know the blog owners and/or editors, establish a relationship with them, and then approach them to see if they are accepting new contributors on their website.
The key is to say new contributors as opposed to guest bloggers - "contributors" tells the blog owner/editor that you are committed to creating high quality content for them as opposed to just slapping something together to promote yourself.
Optimize your blog for search
Regularly creating valuable content on your blog is one way to get search engines to index your content. If you want blog and your posts to rank for particular keywords, you will want to always strive to optimize both for search. This can be as simple as using the fields provided by Yoast SEO to add a keyword optimized SEO title and meta description to your blog's homepage, main static pages, and each one of your posts.
To stay on Google's good side, avoid overstuffing your blog with keywords. Choose one keyword phrase to optimize for on each page and post. Include it in your SEO title, meta description, and one image on the page.
Start building your mailing list
Don't wait until you start getting a substantial amount of traffic to build a mailing list - start from the very beginning. If on your first day of launching your blog you get two people who love it, you want those two people to be able to give you their email address so you can keep them up to date with what is happening on your blog. Later, this list will be what you use to promote your monetization strategy.
Operating a mailing list is generally not expensive in the beginning. Services like MailChimp allow you to have up to 2,000 subscribers with up to 12,000 emails for free, while services like Aweber allow you to have up to 500 subscribers with unlimited emails for $19 per month.
Look at what your competitors are doing
You don't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to promoting your blog. Just look at what your competitors are doing in terms of marketing strategy. You can use SEO backlink tools to show you the links your competitors are getting which will shed light into their strategies in regards to social networks, directories, guest posting opportunities, and other online marketing tactics. CognitiveSEO has a free Backlink Explorer you can use for this purpose.
Look at paid advertising options
If you have a budget, you can boost your initial traffic through paid advertising. Google AdWords allows you to pay to promote your blog on Google Search and their display networks. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon have their own advertising platforms to help you drive traffic to your blog and blog posts. You can also look at advertising options on other blogs in your niche that receive a lot of traffic. This will generally be in the form of banner advertisements or sponsored reviews.
Ways to promote your blog content
In addition to promoting your blog as a whole, you will also want to promote your blog content, i.e., each, individual blog post. As you promote your content, your blog as a whole will gain more traffic, social shares, and engagement. Here are some ways to promote your content.
Submit your blog posts to bookmarking and voting sites
Similar to directories, there are hundreds of social bookmarking and voting sites. And similar to directories, not all of them are worthwhile. Your goal is to look for social bookmarking and voting sites that have engaged users. These include Delicious, StumbleUpon, Reddit, BizSugar, Inbound, and similar. Note that many of these sites are not fond of people promoting their own content all of the time, so you may want to consider making a friend on those networks and occasionally sharing content with them in hopes that they will submit it to these networks.
Try blog promotion networks
Several networks exist solely for the purpose of gathering people who love to help each other promote their blog posts. These networks include Triberr, Social Buzz Club, Viral Content Buzz, and similar. You can also build your own blog post promotional network as you network with others in your niche. Just have everyone connect in a Facebook group or in an email list where they can share their latest posts.
Establish yourself on social media
By this point, you should have already claimed your preferred name on each social channel. Depending on your niche, certain social media channels can be invaluable. Never forget, though, that social media (aside from paid advertising) is a place to connect with others, be helpful to them and display your expertise. Don't hop in with a megaphone and act like a barker at a circus. Rather, treat social media like a huge cocktail party—a place where you can meet others, trade ideas and network to form alliances. Treat everyone you meet with respect. Your aim is to be of value and engage with your current or future blog readers.
The main social networks you should work towards building connections upon are listed below. Each social media platform should be utilized and approached differently. Chose the one (or ones) that best fit your needs and become an expert at leveraging them to help reach your goals.
There are more than 200 million users on Twitter. Some say it is a one-way conversation, with 140-character (maximum) messages getting fired out constantly with a lot of people talking, but not a lot of people listening. Others have managed to build a strong, engaged following to promote their content towards.
To learn more about Twitter, start with the Twitter 101 guide to Business as a quick-start resource. Also check out this article by Social Media Examiner about Twitter to help you get the foundations in place. There are also plenty of Twitter experts, such as Deborah Anderson. Her Social Web Cafe website has helped many bloggers learn to use Twitter chats to expand their reach.
LinkedIn is the leading social network for professionals. With more than 100 million users, it's a great place to connect with other bloggers and business owners in your niche. The network has a lot to offer when it comes to business-related information for. The down side to this network is that unlike Twitter, you have to know a person already (or know their email address) to connect with them. Social Media Examiner's excellent 10 tips series can help get you going with this platform. Read their post on 10 LinkedIn Tiips for Buidling Your Business for more.
More than a social media platform, Google is using Google+ as a hubspot for identifying online movers and shakers. The internet giant has moved business listings from Google Places to Google+. This may be the one social media platform you should definitely not ignore. Mark Traphagen stays tuned in to all things concerning Google+, so be sure to Follow Mark to stay updated.
While it is still predominantly used by women, the number of men on Pinterest is increasing. With more than two million active users daily, the statistics on Pinterest are impressive. See the Pinterest Tips for Business page for additional information.
With over a billion active monthly users, Facebook is the number one social media network. Chances are, many of your potential readers and future customers already have an account there.
One thing to remember is that Facebook tends to be reserved for true "social" interaction. You can launch your blog's Facebook page and start interacting with the community that is already established, but be careful about mixing business with pleasure on this platform. Facebook rewards the engagement with your followers, thus the goal is not the quantity but quality of relevant posts and updates that engage your fans, which can be measured by the number of likes, comments, and shares you receive.
For an overview of how to use Facebook for business, check out the Facebook for Business guide. Social Media Examiner also excellent advice on social media. Find out how to use your personal Facebook page for business by reading this article.
Also remember that Facebook is a great place to promote your posts. You can start by doing so using their paid advertising platform as you grow your own organic audience and reach.
Now owned by Google, the videos you launch on YouTube can get indexed on the world's largest search engine quickly. Don't forget to apply search engine optimization (SEO) strategies on your YouTube channel and launches - most especially by optimizing your titles and video descriptions with a target keyword phrase. ProBlogger nails the basics in this excellent article.
It is not wise to host your videos on your own blog due to the size of video files will lag you down way too much. YouTube is an excellent help in this regard. You can host videos there for free, gain the SEO advantage, and then embed them on your own blog. Check out this Udemy Blog article about using YouTube for business for more information.
This site allows you to share photographs via your mobile device. It is similar to Pinterest, in that you can create boards that focus on specific topics.
Here again, remember how important it is to stay centered. Make sure your photographs are what your audience wants to see. This is not to say you shouldn't post items of general interest, but your profile as a whole should draw your desired audience and provide value to them.
Instagram's Getting Started page is an excellent place to learn about the platform. The Social Media Examiner's article on using Instagram for business is an excellent primer for finding out more about this very visual social media channel.
Other social networks
There are other social media possibilities, and new ones appear regularly. For most of us, though, one of the already-popular channels will serve our needs well and deliver maximum promotional benefit. Of course, your business is unique, and you should make use of the social media avenues that best fit your own niche and style. If there is a lesser-known channel where your audience tends to gather, you should be there with them. Whatever you do, don't overextend yourself. Everything you do online is a reflection of your capabilities.
Context is important
"Content is the king but context is the God" - Gary Vaynerchuck
The context is the circumstances that form and surround an event or idea so it can be fully understood. When it comes to blog content, context is the way you're publishing, distributing, and promoting your content. If you're trying to connect with your audience in the wrong context, it doesn't matter how good your content is. Your content will not be read, shared, or discussed.
Beyond the tips listed, you can come up with other creative ways to promote your blog. Your best bet is to start small and make adjustments to your promotion strategies along the way. Always remember to focus on key fundamentals:
Maintaining a clean and
properly functioning blog.
and helpful content.
Engaging in conversation
and build your authority.