Last week I talked about the four stages of warming up your readers and turning them into raving fans. Well, today I’ll show you how to smash through that first stage: getting the word out about your blog.
As a teenager, you may have once pined over a boy or girl and thought, They don’t even know I exist. Well, it can feel just as bad when you create a new blog and no-one seems to be reading it. In fact, it may be even worse because Google Analytics will confirm your suspicions without a hint of sympathy.
The problem is that with more than a billion registered websites out there on the World Wide Web, the chances of someone stumbling onto your new blog is pretty remote. Even when they know about your blog, the number is visitors you get could be relatively small. In a good month, Digital Photography School, gets four or five million visitors. But when you think about how many digital camera owners there are in the world, it’s actually a relatively small percentage.
So how do we get all those people surfing the web to take a look at your blog? Well, here are four things you should try.
1. Write guest posts for other blogs
Why do companies spent a fortune getting their commercials aired during half time at the Super Bowl? Because it gives them access to tens of millions of viewers. They didn’t create that audience. They just used it to get their message across.
And you can do you something similar with guest blogging.
I wrote my first guest post back in 2002, before guest posting was even a thing. Another blogger read one of my posts, and sent me an email asking if he could interview me on his blog. The email included half a dozen questions, and he asked if I could answer each one in 400–500 words.
My initial reaction wasn’t very positive. I was thinking, What? You want me to write two and half a thousand words of content for your blog?
But then I started thinking about it differently. That’s a lot of work. But this guy’s been blogging for a year now, and he has a decent audience. Okay, let’s do it and see how it goes.
I put a lot of time and energy into that post, and ended up writing 3,500 words to answer his questions.
The day after the interview went live on his site my readership grew by more than tenfold, and I immediately saw the value in creating content for other sites and other people.
These days there are far more opportunities to do this. Think about the top five ways your ideal reader would like to spend their time (or the top five people they would like to spend their time with). That could be their top five:
- Facebook groups/pages
- LinkedIn groups
- television shows
- influencers (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.)
Now that you know where they hang out and what they like talking about, try creating some guest content for them.
Of course, you can’t just publish a post on someone else’s blog. You’ll need to build a relationship with those bloggers, and then find out whether they accept guest content. But most blogs will let you add a comment, and that’s where you can add some guest content.
I once wrote 400 words responding to a question I saw on another blog. It was practically a guest post in itself. But I know that 400 words will be read not only by the person who asked the question, but also hundreds of others (at least potentially).
Leaving a comment in a forum or a Facebook group is another way to create guest content.
So as you work through the 50 or so places your ideal readers hang out, look for opportunities to create guest content, whether it’s writing a guest post for a blog, being interviewed on a podcast, or just being helpful in the comments section.
2. Create sharable content
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll know what sharable content is about. Just take a look in Google Analytics and look at the content that gets shared more often and drives fresh eyeballs to your site.
Content that gets shared a lot on Digital Photography School includes:
- myth-busting pots
- debates (people seem to like sharing them to justify their opinions)
- research polls (and the results)
- cheat sheets
- posts with infographics
- long-form posts
- beginner guides
- posts written with a bit of humor.
BuzzSumo is a great resource for finding sharable content. Enter a domain name (for your site or someone else’s), click the button, and it will tell you what content has been shared the most. It also shows you the social networks each piece of content was shared on and how many times it was shared.
When you analyze your own blog, look for themes and topics that get shared a lot. Also take note of the format (list, Q&A, roundup), and the medium (video, podcast, infographic).
But as nice as it is to have content shared, don’t go overboard trying to turn every piece of content you create into something people will share. Yes, getting that sudden spike in traffic feels great. But keep in mind that getting people to look at your content is just stage one. You still need to get those people interested, connected, and engaged (which I’ll be talking about over the next few weeks).
3. Repurpose your best content
One lesson I’ve learned over the years is that if content has been shared a lot in one form, there’s a good chance it will be shared again in another form.
Back in 2002 I wrote a post for ProBlogger called Can You Really Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money From Blogging]. That post did really well, and appeared in my BuzzSumo report as one of my most shared pieces of content.
So I asked myself, Where else could I share this content?
First, I repurpose it into a talk that I’ve now given a few times at various conferences. I then took the slides from that talk, tweaked them a bit so they didn’t rely on my voice, and put them up on SlideShare. The slides (which linked back to the website) ended up getting around 5,000 views
Later I turned the same slides into a video, added some music, and posted it on YouTube. (I may have also posted it on Vimeo). The videos (which again linked back to the website) got about 6,000 views.
After tweaking the post to avoid having duplicate content I put it up on Medium, where it got another 2,000 views. And finally I used it in episode 32 of the ProBlogger Podcast, which has had more than 20,000 downloads.
If you’ve got a piece of content that’s doing well in one form, think about how you could repurpose it. As well as the forms I used, you could also:
- create an infographic or a cheat sheet
- pitch it to a newspaper or magazine
- ask a podcaster to use it as the basis of an interview.
4. Search Engine Optimization
The final thing I want to talk about in this post is search engine optimization. And don’t just think of Google.
I once wrote a post on Digital Photography School about a Leica camera I owned. The post was a dismal failure, and hardly got any views. So I decided to repurpose it. Using the same content, I then stood in front of a video camera, recorded myself talking about (and showing) my little Leica camera, and posted it on YouTube.
That video has now been viewed more than 60,000 times.
YouTube is also a search engine. And when people search YouTube for that camera name, my video comes up.
Another search engine you might not think about is the App Store. Jarrod Robinson from the PE Geek (a blog for physical education teachers) created an app that aggregates content from his blog and his podcast, and also promotes his workshops and membership sites.
The app gets thousands of downloads every month. And every time he publishes a new blog post, everyone who downloaded the app gets a push notification. The App Store has given him a whole new readership.
When you think of search engine optimization, think about where people might be searching for information. It could be Google, YouTube, iTunes, the App Store, Google Play, or a myriad of other places.
Now remember here, what we’re talking about is the process of taking your readers from being unaware, from being cold towards your blog, your brand, and you to being supper engaged. This is what we’ve been talking about today, getting the eyeball is just the first step.
So there you have it: four ways to get the word about about your blog. And next week I’ll tell you how to conquer the next stage in warming up your readers and turning them into raving fans: getting interested in what you’re saying.
In the meantime, let us know what you do to spread the word about your blog. Do you write guest posts? Do make your content sharable, or repurpose it? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: davide ragusa