Marketing your blog isn’t just important, it’s essential. Let me say that I totally have a soft spot for small, newbie bloggers. I follow quite a few that I feel have loads of potential, such as a smart and interesting voice, strong photos, and a great blog design. Yet it feels like a ghost town around their blog!
I have a suspicion it’s because they’re putting all their effort into making their content shine and minimal effort into marketing it. Hey, I get it. Content is king and it’s the fun part. And if all you’re interested in doing is making content for yourself, your friends and family, and whoever stumbles across your URL, that’s totally cool. But if you’re interested in growing your readership, you can’t just sit back and hope they come to you – you need to be proactive.
Coming from blogging with my social media marketing background, I get that I have a bit of a leg up. Heck, I even enjoy the marketing aspect of blogging! It can be really rewarding to see your efforts pay off and notice a big bump in your readers.
Here’s how I recommend getting more visitors to your site and growing your readership:
Get Active On Social Media
Social media is the #1 driver of traffic to most blogs. Obviously it helps people stay up-to-date with your latest content (I recommend scheduling 2-4 promotional tweets a day, cushioned by non-promo posts), but it also helps you connect and make blogger friends. Twitter hashtag chats are particularly awesome for meeting new people and exchanging links (check out this post from From the Desk of J for US chats and times).
Other than Twitter, I recommend setting up a Facebook account and, if you’re making pretty content, a Pinterest and Instagram as well. Get in the habit of sharing most of your posts on Facebook, pinning your pretty content to Pinterest, and occasionally sharing some of your rockstar beautiful content on Instagram. Set these accounts up sooner than later so you don’t miss out on potential followers, and make sure you’re linking to your social presences from your website.
Comment on Other Blogs
This, this, this. Yes, it is time consuming, but blogging is about giving and taking, it’s not a one way street. Take the time to find smaller blogs via social sites like Bloglovin and Twitter, and comment on one of their most recent posts. Make sure it’s not just “awesome post!” but a real, thoughtful comment. I try and make mine at least three sentences. Include your name and your URL at the bottom of your comment, so it’s easier for the blogger and other visitors to easily trace you back to your site. As long as your responses are thoughtful, I believe it’s completely kosher and tasteful to leave your URL in the comment.
If you really love a blog, add it to your RSS reader or however you keep up with blog posts and make a point to comment regularly. If they never respond to your comment and never visit your site, consider the idea that they’re not interested in a mutual relationship and stop visiting their blog (harsh, I know, but I’m just real talkin’).
Advertise on Blogs Similar To Your Own
Okay, I totally get that dropping $30-$50 to advertise on someone’s blog isn’t an option for everyone. That being said, it can be a really effective way to get new readers to your site. A couple of essential tips: One, only advertise on sites that have a similar style to your own. They should talk about similar topics and have readerships that are a similar age to your readership. Two, I definitely recommend advertising with someone who offers more than just a sidebar ad. A guest post, an interview, a blurb, participation in a group giveaway – anything at along those lines will majorly boost your traffic.
It’s all about testing and learning. Try a month with this blogger and a month with that blogger. Watch Google Analytics to find out how many people are coming to your blog from their site. Also, think about how responsive the blogger is via email and how much social media amplifying they do of your content (which is often part of sponsorship packages). Try asking your friends who they have sponsored and who they have loved working with.
Write Guest Posts For Your Blogger Friends
Okay, full disclosure, I am terrible about doing this. I’ve talked to some pretty awesome medium-sized bloggers who have said they would love to have me do a guest post. My problem is I’m so loath to put a bunch of time into creating a post and then put it on someone else’s blog! It’s like, if I’m going to put 3+ hours into creating a recipe, buying the ingredients, making it, photographing it, editing the photos, and writing the post, I want it to go on my own blog, you know? The other barrier I run into is what type of post sums up my blog? I feel like if I share a beauty tips post or a recipe, I’m just putting myself into a box, and I worry their readers will think that will be all that I talk about.
Okay, now that I’ve given you a very long explanation as to why I don’t do guest posts, here’s why you should do it. Namely, it’s free advertising and likely to actually catch the eye of readers. As opposed to an interview, which most readers seem to just skip over, a really great post like a DIY makes people open up the post in their RSS feed or Bloglovin’ and go, hey, that’s pretty cool! If you don’t want to pay for advertising, I think this is a great alternative.
Participate in Group Giveaways
Okay, this one is a little bit controversial, but let me give you my thoughts. I’ve started dipping my toe into giveaways (as you might have noticed) and I’ve found that they’re pretty incredible for growing my follower numbers. The better question though is: is it increasing my readers? I’m finding that the answer is yes, and here is why. I’m specifically participating in giveaways that are with other, likeminded bloggers. Just like it’s important to advertise on blogs that have readers like the ones I’m looking for, it’s also important to team up with similar bloggers to do giveaways. Although their readers might be blindly adding you on social media, the hope is my content will come up in their feed and catch their eye there.
Do you market your blog? What ways do you feel are the most (or least) effective?