This article is about promoting blogs, not just publishing blogs, the latter of which is the easy part. For those of you that are eager to share your earth-changing ideas with the worId, but only have some foggy ideas on blog promotion, here are some tips that may not be so obvious or understood.
Self-Publishing Your Blog – This Is Not The Same As Promotion
In decades past, there were 100s of blogging platforms with their own distinctive flavors. The idea of self-publishing on endless blogsites centered around getting your blog posted in as many places as possible so your article could be found. This only worked on platforms that generated credible traffic, but that was 15 years ago.
Today, most bloggers use the popular blogging platforms from Google or WordPress. WordPress has the advantage of being integrated with your website, meaning that your blogs will always follow your site, regardless of who hosts it. On the other hand, if you use Blogger and post on BlogSpot, those blogs will never be part of your website—but if all you are doing is blogging—this may not matter to you.
So, the act of publishing your blog is indeed the easy part, but please don’t confuse this with blog promotion. You can post a blog on multiple websites, but if no one is reading and sharing your blog, it hardly matters.
The art of promoting your blog is what will attract readers to yours from the 100s of millions of blogs (no one knows the exact number) that have been posted since 1997.
Blog Promotion Begins Here
Blog promotion should take into consideration what you are trying to accomplish (e.g., advertising revenue, market feedback, thought leadership) mixed with expectations from the target readership. Ultimately, if you meet peoples’ expectations and needs, then you’re on your way to making history because those readers who like your blog, will tend to quote it, maybe even promote it, or simply share it.
Take the outspoken economist Paul Krugman for example, who has one of the highest circulated blogs in the United States, thanks in large part to a massive number of followers who read his books, take his classes or see him in leading advisory roles. Besides being a well-known contributor to The New York Times, he is well respected by academic circles as a professor of economics and international affairs at top universities, and it doesn’t hurt that he has won many awards including a Nobel Prize. No wonder why The Washington Monthly called him “the most important political columnist in America.”
OK, so you’re not Paul Krugman, which begs the question: who in the world will ever see your blog let alone read it? In a recent blogging survey on what things worry bloggers the most, 69.4 % said they worry about a lack of traffic and readers the most!
Can your blog writing become a driving force in your field of expertise? Yes, it can, but you need good content! In addition to relatable and digestible content, this is where you develop a particular skill at finding needles in haystacks. Your “needle” is your niche in the world of blogging and based on your public status and specialized area of expertise, you may find your place in a world filled with at least a billion blogs—aside from Krugman—of course.
So, good content is the foundation of blog promotion, regardless of who you are and where you publish it.
Nobody Cares About Your Blog—Yet
OK, so now you know there is more to blog promotion than meets the eye. Since I’m writing this for up-and-coming stars, I’m assuming you are not a famous person—at least not yet. So to clarify, you don’t need worldwide fame to be a favorite blogger, just esteem in your little corner of the world.
Here are the first questions you need to ask yourself: Why would anyone read my blog? What am I giving my reader that is unique and they cannot merely get elsewhere?
Once you start thinking about your audience, you have taken your first step to successful promotion, but your path will be unique to your situation—there is no secret formula or tonic that just magically works.
For example, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, it is easy to be surprised by the way something worked when you thought it to be something else entirely. Your first step on the yellow brick road to blog promotion occurs when you consider your audience.
The second step on the yellow brick road to promotion occurs when you garner the courage, make an effort, and consistently share your finest ideas on blogsites, community forums, and media platforms that best match your area of knowledge.
Most importantly, give people a reason to care about what you have to say in your blog. After all, if you care, they just might care, too.
Give Your Blog a Jump Start – Online Forums
This most prominent issue in promoting a blog is getting it noticed, especially if you don’t already have a ready following clamoring for your e-books, social media posts, newsletters, or media channel like YouTube.
However, if you have specialized knowledge in a field where you can offer insight because of your intellect, experience, expertise, and insight, you could jump-start your blog by participating in online forums to help build your visibility, credibility, and yes, eventually, a following.
If you are not familiar with Quora, you should get familiar with it. It’s a question and answer site where people participate and engage in serious dialog. Trolls are flagged, and the entire community monitors the site to keep it legitimate. Besides being self-managed by members, the community also votes answers up and down accordingly.
In my experience with Quora, I have found that most often the best answers get voted to the top, while self-serving and less insightful answers tend to get shoved down to the bottom where no one reads.
Possibly the most appealing aspect of this Q&A approach through forum involvement is that you only answer those questions where you shine. This approach also provides insight into what topics you should consider for your blog. After all, you already know people are interested in particular ideas by the simple fact they have asked the question, and you can gauge its popularity by how many people have attempted to provide an answer or voted answers up or down accordingly.
Online forums help circumvent such limitations of knowing what to write about because community members post questions on topics of interest, and from that, you know what people are reading by their level of involvement and feedback. If you’re an expert that is yet to be discovered, Quora might be your ticket to self-promotion that can be turned into blog promotion as you gain followers using a well-written bio.
Your Public Status Matters
I played a role as a “thought leader” about 18 years ago in a nascent market called digital signage. I spoke at conferences, was a founding board member to the industry’s first association, worked at a leading development firm with a team of engineers and established five branded and trademarked products. Finally, I became a product evangelist touring the country educating potential stakeholders about the virtues of digital signage, which up to that time, sounded more like an oxymoron to listeners than a product category.
However, this is the kind of activity that significantly builds your credibility. Keep in mind that I did this activity before I began blogging, not after.
After I did this sort of public activity for a few years, I began writing blogs to share what I was envisioning and learning as an industry insider. It was only a matter of time before various stakeholders, including editors and publicists, began asking me for both interviews and blogs on the topic, primarily because I had an inside track in a nascent industry that people were eager to learn about! So, your public status does matter, but that’s not the end of the story.
Why Influencers Matter
It’s possible for influencers to fall into your lap if you are well connected socially, or your particular brand has some rabid fans, but most likely, you’ll have to look for them yourself. Don’t look very far, because those that are closest to your topic are probably only a step or two away from becoming your best influencers.
Of course, it’s not often easy to find such a relationship, and many such relationships are arranged based on some kind of contract, but the most valuable influencers are those who genuinely believe in you and your message and are doing it with or without a for-profit incentive. Influential fans will always be your best influencers, whether they are paid or rewarded some other way.
This is why most companies with a social media strategy look for and incubate influencers anywhere they can find them. The long-term ripple effect of influencers is often more significant than any paid promotion because the best influencers can reach further and out last advertising.
Paid Media Is Sometimes The Best Way To Promote Your Blog When Starting Out
This tip is not a sell out to “the man”—but yes, it will require a budget! Regardless, it will likely be the quickest way to find and build an audience for your lonely blog.
Once again, it’s possible to find editors willing to publish your great content as a guest writer for no charge! This assumes your content and expertise resonates with the editor’s requirements. However, if you cannot find a media channel willing to publish your blog as a guest contributor, then paid media or ad promotion may be another way you can promote your blog.
Consider your blog’s keywords and metadata tags. These should be used in word strings known as long tail keywords to produce traffic patterns for people who are looking for what you have to offer. Without getting into the marketing strategy of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, this might be an effective way to promote your blog and help your search engine optimization (SEO).
I was not the very first person to blog about digital signage at the turn of this century, but I can tell you for sure that there were very few people who had even heard of the nascent technology in 2002. Fortunately for me, at the time, Wikipedia picked up my blog’s RSS feed and linked it their somewhat newish website under the search term, you guessed it—digital signage, as a resource. This was my first lesson in what media can do for a topic—my readership went into the atmosphere like a kite!
However, even freebies come to an end, and I had to pay the piper—literally! Wikipedia rebuilt their pages after a few years, and I lost my link. Ironically, even though I spent many dollars on paid media in the following years, I was never able to reproduce the traffic numbers that came from that one fortunate link on Wikipedia!
Proper Links Will Help Your Blog Be Found And Promoted
Now let’s consider a point that has withstood the test of time—obtaining site links from credible sources to your blog will be one of the most important ways to promote your blog. Hyperlinking your blog from other topic-related websites, blogsites, and directories as a reference or source will dramatically help people to find you in the blogosphere.
In the old days, bloggers tried to get their blog published on every blogsite in the world, but once again, this is not promotion—just an outdated SEO tactic. This might have had a little merit 20 years ago, but it is a terrible idea today because it’s a waste of time! Think about it this way: What would you rather do, fish in a lake with ten fishing poles but no fish, or fish in a lake with lots of hungry fish and only one fishing pole? In other words, the number of places you publish your blog doesn’t matter if interested readers are not finding it and engaging with you. Most importantly, Google is not SEO friendly to those that duplicate their content all over the Internet.
What matters is where your blog gets posted relative to its content and who links back to you as a credible resource. Today, it’s about linking your blog to relevant websites along with encouraging influencers and followers to share your blog—sometimes for a fee but not always.
Also, don’t be afraid to email a short blurb to editors that you think may have an interest in your topic. For example, if you are or have the potential to be an influencer in a sought after market or specialty—then you most likely will find opportunities to become a “guest contributor,” which will open the platform up to your ideas.
Depending on the media company, they may ask you to keep the article exclusive for such-and-such time, but in the long run, this is not asking too much given their level of reach and influence.
Learn From Those Who Have Successful Blogs
Of all of the resources at my disposal as a blogger, I think this website is an excellent resource for anyone just starting a blog–regardless of motive. The site’s author speaks to over 100 things you can do to promote yourself for free, getting into the nitty-gritty of promotion including technical how-tos and many step-by-step guides.
Of course, you don’t have to do all of these things to be successful, and some are much more important than others depending on your situation, but all of it is good advice that is easy to understand. Try picking 10 or so actionable items that you can do and give it go.
Here’s a final thought about the subject of blog promotion. It’s important to remember that bloggers are a community of aspiring writers. Since many blogs are written by non-experts to help SEO, it’s easy to lose sight that the essence of blog writing is sharing one’s experience, knowledge, and insight with those that are interested in your topic.
I’ve already recommended some good non-commercial sources for bloggers of all persuasions, but possibly I saved the best for last. If you would like to join a significant community of writers who write on nearly any topic, I’d suggest submitting your articles to the blogsite known as EzineArticles. Here, you will find a serious community of bloggers, support and coaching staff, educational materials, writing rewards, and one of the most reputable self-publishing platforms in the US. It’s not the be-all and end-all of blogging, but it’s a great start.
May these tips push your blog promotion from mundane to extraordinary!