A general rule of thumb is to spend as long promoting your content as you spend writing it.
Marketer Derek Halpern, however, recommends spending five times as much time promoting as writing.
How long you spend promoting each post depends on your goals, the stage of your blogging, and how much time you spent writing! But you get the point. Promotion is crucial to your blogging success.
Invest your time in promoting your blog, because your blog posts are unlikely to take off all on their own. They need a bit of a push. Your job doesn't finish when you hit 'post'.
When is the best time to promote a post? Right after you publish it, so delay that cup of coffee and resist the urge to put your feet up. Yes, you have done a good job, but it's not over yet.
There are many, many ways that you can promote your content. Having a plan with a checklist makes it easier to do so effectively as part of a routine. Use the following ideas to formulate a personal step by step plan for pushing your content. Make it a guide that you can expand on or truncate as you see fit according to the requirements of your blog posts.
Free Blog Promotion Techniques
Using social media is a powerful way of distributing your messages to a wider audience than might be possible via organic traffic alone. New social networks are emerging every year, meaning that there are increasing numbers of ways for people to share content they like with friends, family, colleagues and fans.
As ever, start thinking about social networks from the point of view of your ideal readers and customers. What social networks are they using? That's where you want your content shared.
Focusing on the main social networks that your customers use will save you diluting your energy. Go where the majority of your readers are. The current top social media referrers include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn. For most businesses, promoting blogs via social media will involve at least one of these networks.
Use Your Personal Social Network
Messaging your colleagues and friends to ask them to share and leave comments is an essential step in blog promotion. Do this early. Getting the ball rolling can be difficult, but once people see that others have left messages they are more likely to do the same. It's like that awkward silence when a party host tells guests to serve themselves. When people see someone loading a slice of cake onto their plate, others are likely to partake too.
Share and Share Alike
Getting a few initial shares from influencers in your field can help get the ball rolling for your blog posts.
If you're not already following the top influencers in your industry, start now. One of the beautiful things about the internet for marketers is accessibility - you can reach out to leaders directly and receive instant responses. You can share your content with influential people (who may have hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers), saying that you think it will interest them and their followers, and asking them to reshare it with their networks. You could do so publicly or privately, via a direct message.
Some of them may share your content as a result and some may not, but they are more likely to do so if you've already engaged with them by comment intelligently on their posts and resharing their content.
Would you be more likely to share a post from someone you'd never heard of before or from someone who has consistently been sharing your posts with their network and engaging in discussions on your blog? Share a lot of content from people you value in the industry, big and small. If you want more traffic, help other people get more traffic.
Engage with people who have shared similar blog posts to yours. Comment on their blogs, providing links to your content, and always reply to their comments on yours.
Keep a List of 'Sharers'
Keep an eye out for people who share your content regularly or more often than most people. Add their names to a list of 'sharers.' These are people to ask to read and reshare your new content when it comes out.
Hopefully, your list of 'influencers' and 'sharers' will overlap over time.
Use Facebook and LinkedIN Groups
Share your post in active Facebook and LinkedIN groups relevant to your niche. Do as many as is manageable, considering how much time you've given yourself for individual post promotion. Five? Ten? Make a list of the key groups and keep them on your blog promotion checklist.
There are also Facebook and LinkedIn Groups that exist specifically for promoting blog posts. Look for Groups that are relevant to your field, but you need not join these exclusively. Participate in a number of these blog promotion groups that appear to be active, after first reading their rules of engagement, and then start sharing.
Re-Title Your Posts for Social Media
Another use of social media for promoting your posts is to repost your content several times with different titles. This way, you get to post a notification of your new blog post, on Twitter say, but you do it several times a day, and it looks different every time, not spammy. Sure, it's the same content, but you've put in some thought about different angles and perspectives and ways to connect that post with your readers.
Use a scheduling tool such as Buffer to queue up a few of these posts in advance and have them go out several times a day for a few days after your post is published.
Revamp Old Content to Keep Your Social Media Presence Fresh
In a similar fashion, you can repost old content. Freshening up old posts is a good way to keep your site current and relevant. Releasing them again and notifying the world via social media can bring in new visitors for work you've mostly already done. This is particularly effective when something has happened in the news that makes an old post particularly relevant again. Don't hope that people will find it. Polish it up and send it out to work again, promoting it just the way you would new content.
It's worth noting that some people complain about those who only use social media to link back to their blog content. Variety keeps things interesting. To keep your social media audiences engaged, it's a good idea to create social media only content. This doesn't need to be as time-consuming as it might sound at first, because, once again, you can repurpose old blog posts. Social networks can be a great medium to break-up your epic blog posts. One item from that list of 10 might make a perfect social media post for Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Also, use quotes and stats to create compelling snippets that attract readers' eyes and allow them to take in information quickly. Re-use your blog images and key quotes from your posts by sharing them on Instagram and Pinterest if these sites are relevant to your target demographic and your business model.
A Quick Word About Using #hashtags.
Hashtags work on many major social networks including Facebook (though use them sparingly), Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. They allow users to find the content that has been labeled or categorized by the content creator, using a hashtag.
A general rule of thumb is to use no more than three hashtags per post. They can be obtrusive and annoy readers if used too frequently, particularly on Facebook where you should use one or two and only when you need to in order to reference something, an event or conference, for example.
If you want to use seven #hashtags in your Twitter feed, because they are all trending, and you think you'll reach more viewers, spread your hashtags over three or more posts.
Timing is Everything
Thanks to worldwide communication, posting your best material while your target demographic is asleep is easy to do, but you're no beginner anymore, and so you won't be making this mistake. Try using Open Graph data to optimize your timing when posting. Buffer also offers excellent tools for optimizing the timing and delivery of your posts across social networks.
Curating content on your blog is a good way of achieving a sense of trustworthiness by linking to trustworthy sources.
Rather than doing this and sitting back, however, get in touch with your sources and let them know that you used their information. Engaging with your sources encourages their interaction, making the most of this opportunity for backlinking and networking.
When you use resources made by people on your influencer list, send them a link to how you used it, asking them to reshare your work if they like your perspective and style.
Wouldn't you like to know if your resource is referenced in someone's content? In that event, promoting that repackaged content could build traffic for both parties.
In addition to promoting your blog via curated content directly on your blog, you can also build a following by curating content during your travels on the web. Do this via a social media bookmarking site, such as Delicious, Reddit, or Pinterest.
Consider which of these (and other) sites suit you best, since they all work differently, and think about where your ideal readers are hanging out. Ideally, these two factors will intersect.
One of the major benefits of curating content is that you find information that you find useful personally as well as building a readership and promoting your brand. It's win-win.
Listing with blog directories not only helps people find you but they provide links back to your site, potentially increasing your perceived authority and enabling you to rank more highly as a trusted website.
You don't want masses of links. You want quality links. Paying to have your site submitted to 1,000 directories can be detrimental to your business as it's the kind of tactic used by someone who cares more about short-term quantity of views than the long-term quality and usefulness of their posts.
Select the best and submit manually. The best blog directories are human-edited, rather than come-one-come-all, making them more reputable. Spelling and grammar matter, because people will be checking out your recent posts to assess the standard of your site and to see if you're genuine.
Free blog directories to check out include:
- Best of the Web Blog Search - takes mature, reputable sites.
- Dmoz - An (or perhaps 'The') open directory of the web
- Alltop.com - List you alongside similar content.
Despite talk about email being outdated in contrast with instant messaging via social networks, email is going strong as a marketing tool. When something better comes along, jump on it, but until then the enduring power of an email list is that:
a) You own your list of contacts - if Facebook changes the way you can interact with your Page subscribers or if Twitter goes out of business overnight, you still have your list of people who are interested in you and you can still contact them; and
b) The vast majority of receivers physically see your message - your tweets and posts on social media are part of an endless stream of posts from many content providers, and you're competing with all them, the elevator music and the white noise included, but how often do you miss an email? You may ignore them, and you may delete them, but the chances are that unless you're using some batching software or a personal assistant you'll see the subject line and sender of every email that comes your way. That in itself makes your email list gold.
People who have opted to be on your email list have already invested in you, either with money or time or their email address. It's not a stretch to put your content in front of these people and ask them to share it if they like it. Using email provides a powerful, intimate and direct line of communication. It allows you to tell people that you've done something new. Don't be shy about asking for what you want. As long as you're also providing valuable content, relevant information and solutions to problems, ask for comments, shares, links and more.
Make It Easy to Share
An essential part of promoting your blog posts, and something that is relatively simple to do, is ensuring that you've made it easy for other people to share your content.
First of all, don't be shy about telling your readers what you want them to do after they've read your blog post, whether that be commenting, downloading something or sharing your post with their networks. Most people will be happy to help you out if you've provided them with something that they value and it's quick to do so. Make sharing your posts very easy and quick to do.
Images attract the eye, and most internet users understand the concept of buttons, so use sharing buttons and icons for the primary social networks you are targeting. Rather than listing the top 20 social networks, avoid overwhelming your viewer by asking them to share with the top few that are relevant to your audience.
Your efforts at content curation and social media sharing are magnified when you include buttons, plugins, and services that allow quick and easy sharing and bookmarking.
Finally, ensure that your blog has share, tweet, and save buttons and that your blog is RSS feed ready since many people receive and read content via RSS.
Optimize Your Social Media Tags
Just as you can optimize your site for search engines, you can optimize your pages for sharing.
When your content is shared via Facebook, Facebook crawls your site and looks for meta tags. Optimizing these tags help you control how you are shared. You can not only control your branding on social media this way but using recommended formatting specific to various social media networks can lead to more shares.
If the wrong image pops up when an article is shared, that's one sign that your blog needs optimizing for social media sharing.
These tools can help:
- Facebook OpenGraph Debugger
- Twitter Cards Validator
- Pinterest Rich Pins Validator
- Google's Structured Data Testing
- Bing Markup Validator
- KnowEm's Social Media Optimizer
- Social Debug
Paid Blog Promotion Techniques
Paid ads on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will increase your visibility to a targeted audience. Facebook's tools, in particular, have been refined to a point at which they are extremely powerful, allowing you to target individuals from a wide range of criteria, including age, location, gender and interests effectively.
You can also use Facebook's post boosting feature to make your Facebook posts more prominent for your subscribers, so they are more likely to see a particular post and potentially click through. Since you're spending money to get them to see your post, you should think about making sure that the goal of your post is to sell something to readers or to convert them into leads to sell to them later.
You want to take your time with paid advertising on social media. Start small, track what happens - including how much your spending and how much you're receiving as a result - and make tweaks refine your efforts.
Your email, your social media following, and your blog are very powerful, free promotional tools, but paid advertising can be used to scale your business when you are ready, for example when you have a full product portfolio or a range of services. Who is likely to benefit most from traffic driven by paid advertising: an author who has a single short story for sale, or a publisher with a catalog of 100 short stories and books in various formats and an easy to join mailing list so visitors can be notified of new releases?
Social Bookmarking Ads
People use social media networks for a variety of reasons aside from reading blog posts, including to see reaction to top news stories, to check in on friends and family, and to posting pictures of their cats.
Paying for ads on content curation sites, as opposed to social media networks, means that you are more likely to connect with people who are currently and actively seeking new, interesting content.
Content Discovery Sites/Native Advertising
StumbleUpon is also an example of a content discovery site. In a similar way to social bookmarking websites, you can create lists of content and tag articles that interest you, making yourself a curator of other people's content that complements your own or is on the same topic as your work.
By submitting your content to content discovery sites, such as StumbleUpon, you may find major publisher networks putting your content right alongside similar content, right where readers are browsing.
Choose sites that are relevant to what you write about and search for similar topics and genres to ensure that your content and your brand are in good company. In addition to StumbleUpon, here are some paid content discovery and marketing options to consider:
As you can see there are many ways to promote your blog posts and that number is growing all the time. Choose the channels that make sense for you and don't be scared to test the ones you are less sure about.