How to promote your blog and get new readers
No one wants to write articles that nobody reads. Particularly you're writing those articles to attract new customers to your business. More readers = more prospects.
Even if you're writing more to help out existing customers, you can't help them much if they aren't reading your articles. So here's a whole heap of ways to get your work in front of more readers.
We'll start with the basics. We'll also look at more advanced ways to share and re-use your blog posts to reach even bigger audiences. This is a fairly long post, as there's so much I wanted to cover. You can skip to the sections that interest you with these links:
- Your own website - can people find your blog?
- Social media - sharing your posts to reach a bigger audience
- Email - creating emails and building your list
- Syndication - republishing on other platforms
- Repurposing - making old content into new podcasts, videos, webinars, courses and books
Your own website
I said we'd start with the basics, and to me, making your blog easy to find on your website is pretty basic. But not everyone does it. I once worked on an online store that had a fantastic blog, but the only link to it was a tiny bit of text in the website footer.
If someone visits your website, can they find your blog? Make sure there's an obvious link in the menus and on the home page. Many readers will arrive at your site on a specific blog post (from all those links you share on social media). Make sure they can navigate to your blog page to read more articles, as well as your homepage to learn about your business.
Link posts together
Take every opportunity to show visitors your best content. Add links to related articles in other blog posts, or on relevant product pages. For instance, this product page on the Hemsley & Hemsley store links to recipes you can make with the product. And of course, you can link the other way by putting products in relevant blog posts.
When you create a new post, think about what articles you already have that you can link to. And from time to time go back and add in new links to older posts. (Want to know why this is a good thing to do? The Social Media Hat explains…
Add category pages
As your blog gets fuller, consider creating category pages to help people find posts they're interested in. These collections can have other benefits too, as Copyblogger explain in this article.
Not everyone gets their news off Twitter, or via email. Some of us get them via a feed. We use something like Feedly, and add all the blogs we like to follow. Then whenever we feel like something to read, we open Feedly and start browsing. (This is way better than getting all your favourite blog updates delivered via email. You know how it is. They lurk in your inbox waiting to pounce on your attention when you check your email.)
So RSS feeds are a good thing to offer if you want to build a loyal readership. A feed is a special text file that describes the posts available to readers. If you're using an off the shelf blogging platform then it can probably create the feed for you. Here's how you do it on Squarespace and on Wordpress.com.
You might also want to highlight that you have a feed, by putting a link to it somewhere on your site.
Share every post on all the networks you want. Share multiple times for best results, as explained in this post by Buffer. I tend to follow their suggestion for scheduling posts, and I use the Power Scheduler in the Buffer extension to set everything up in one go.
Repeat old posts
To save even more time, take a look at Edgar. This tool lets you set up a library of posts that Edgar will keep re-posting, whenever there's a gap in the schedule. If you're finding that maintaining your social media updates is a big drain on your time then this might be a sound investment.
Add images to increase shares
According to Social Media Examiner, posts with images get more shares and other interactions. Make sure you've added at least one image to every post. If you want to add blog headlines and your logo, try Canva. It has templates for images the right size.
This whole image size issue has got a lot easier recently, with Instagram allowing images that aren't square, and Twitter showing the whole image in your timeline instead of a cropped version. The thing about tall images working best on Pinterest still holds true. You can find all the image sizes you need in this article.
Advertising on social media
If you have a bit of marketing budget, you might like to go a step further and experiment with promoted tweets, posts or pins. This can be a really effective way to get your best posts in front of new readers.
Add your blog posts to all your links
I've been experimenting recently with StartAFire. This tool adds an overlay to every link you share, advertising your website and one or two links from a selection that you choose. You can use this to show your best posts to new readers.
Quora - answer questions, promote your blog
If you're in any kind of advice business, take a look at Quora, a social question and answer service. It's a bit more work than simply popping a link on Twitter, but when you share articles here you're putting them in front of people you know will be interested.
You're not just sharing with the person who asked the question. People go to Quora to research topics by looking at answers that have already been posted. Popular questions can attract a lot of views.
Start by looking for questions you can answer, especially ones where you already have a relevant blog post you can share. Answer the question briefly, and add a link to your post. Sometimes I don't have a post, so I answer anyway, and save the text so I can reuse it as a post in the future. This post explains in more detail how you can use Quora to increase traffic to your blog.
When it comes to email, I find people tend to fall into one of two groups. Either they have a pretty good list of customers and subscribers, but don't use it much. Or, they have plenty to share but no one to send it to.
Let's start with building a list of people to share your posts with.
Building your list
First things first: collecting emails is collecting personal information. You need to be respectful, add people only with their permission, store and protect the data carefully, and allow people to take their name off your list if they want.
The easiest way to do this is by using a specialist service like MailChimp*. It's free to get started, and you can connect Mailchimp to sign up forms all over the web. Whichever service you use, check their 'getting started' guide to learn about creating and managing a list so that you stay on the right side of the law.
Once you have an email list manager set up, you need to give people chances to sign up. Common places to out a sign up form include:
- Your website footer
- Your sidebar
- At the bottom of each blog post
- At checkout (make this a conscious 'opt-in' for newsletters, don't sneakily opt them in by default.)
Advanced signup forms
You can also use forms that slide up/in/over your web pages. These can be effective for grabbing reader attention. SumoMe offer a great selection of free plugins.
In fact, it's so easy to add fancy signup forms that you can get carried away. Here are some tips on responsible use of email popups. Try different options and see what works best for your visitors.
Landing pages are a popular way to get people to sign up. These pages usually offer a simple choice: sign up for (or buy) something, or skip. People have to choose one or the other before moving on to your site. Unbounce have a big selection of examples.
Landing pages work well if you know you'll be getting visitors from a particular source. You can offer something in exchange for an email, targeted carefully at just that group of visitors. Popular bribes include free tools and resources, simple ebooks, webinars, coupons and discounts.
One-time discounts are a common way for online stores to collect email addresses. I found a more inventive option at the Finery: they limit access to their online outlet store and you have to sign up to get access.
You can offer these bribes inside specific blog posts, too. This is known as a 'content upgrade'. The secret here is to offer a freebie that is highly relevant to the topic of the post. For instance, a printable checklist to help you do the thing described in the post. I use these a lot - for instance, there's one in this post. I use Squarespace forms to deliver the content, but this post explains how to deliver content upgrades with Mailchimp.
Now you have a list, you need to send it something from time to time. Remember, these are people who WANT to hear from you. So talk to them. If they stop wanting your emails in the future, they can and will unsubscribe.
If you have blog posts, new products, occasional sales and promotions, you have a newsletter. Go one better, and collect up articles that you think your customers might find interesting. Now all you need to do is put it together.
Mailchimp makes this pretty straightforward. Once you have set up your first email, it's easy to copy or save it as a template so that future emails are quick to make.
If you want to create emails with lots of links to articles you find on the web, you might want to look at Goodbits. This tool lets you save links as you read them, and then simply drag and drop them into a newsletter.
Syndication is sharing your blog posts on a new platform. It's a bit more time consuming than sharing a link. But if people like to read articles in that platform, copying over your whole post can make it easier for them to read and recommend your articles.
We looked at some good options for this in this article on places to publish your blog.
I've found both Medium and LinkedIn to be successful for my business. Medium has an 'import from URL' feature which makes it easy to transfer posts, though I find it tends to drop headings so check the draft carefully. On LinkedIn, you simply paste in your post. In both cases, you have to reimport any images. You also should tag your article to help it find the right readers.
You can go a step further and offer posts you've written to publications in need of content. This happens even in mainstream media: Quartz frequently publishes articles that were originally published on Medium or other blogs.
Not all sites will let you submit the exact same content for publishing on their site. But you might be able to tweak an older post and make it new enough to meet their needs.
You often have to make small changes to a post when you syndicate it on a different platform. Why not go a step further and turn it into a completely new piece of content?
Change the medium
We touched on this already in the Email section, when we talked about 'content upgrades'. Often, the checklists and workbooks you get in exchange for your email address are very similar to what's in the original post. All the author has done is convert it into a format that's more convenient to the reader.
What if some of your readers like to listen instead of read. Could you record your article as a podcast? If you've done an instruction video post, could you turn that into a text post or PDF that people can print for reference? If you have a list post, could your turn it into a slideshow?
Once you've made a presentation you can publish it on Slideshareand add that presentation to your LinkedIn page. And if you've made slides, how about presenting them on a webinar? Look at this post for more ideas on using audio and video on your blog.
Make a course
If your email service provider offers automation, you can make a 'drip course'. These are designed to send an email a day for 10-20 days, each with a short lesson. Here's an example from Buffer.
Or you could use material from several posts to create a complete online course. Add worksheets and quizzes, and maybe record videos to bring it to life. Teachable lets you get started for free.
Make a book
Ebooks are another way to turn several related posts into a new piece of content. Don't think it has to be War and Peace: I've seen 10 page PDFs offered as ebooks. Sometimes that's all people want - a neat, printable version they can easily refer to. These make great content upgrades.
That's what's going to happen to this series on blogging. I'm using Scrivener to create the ebook, and I'll transfer the same text to Pages to make a PDF version.
The advantage of creating a real ebook is that it can help you get found. Lots of people search their favourite ebook store when they want to learn something new. By putting your book into stores, you have a chance of coming up in searches and being found by new readers.
You can even publish your own printed books through Amazon CreateSpace service. And of course you don't have to give your book away for free - your expertise is valuable, and you might want to charge for it.
I know that was an epic post! I hope you found at least a couple of new things you can try to get your articles in front of new readers.
This 60-page book takes you step by step through starting a blog for your business.
It includes exercises, worksheets and resources to help you create a blogging strategy to support your business goals, choose the right platform and medium, plan your content so you never run out of ideas, and design a blogging routine that works for you.
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