After my last post, 5 Reasons You’re Not Making Any Money as a Blogger, some of the members of this community asked if I could offer a few tips for promoting blogs without being spammy or annoying.
A key to successful blogging is knowing there’s a fine line between self promotion and spam. The important thing to remember is to build relationships rather than spreading links everywhere you go. If you only drop links, you’ll turn off potential readers. However, if you take the time to participate in discussions and get to know people, they’ll want to learn more about you and what you do.
Here are a few tips for promoting your blog without spamming the people you need most:
1. Post in forums – Forums are a terrific way to build up relationships and have a conversation with like-minded people – as long as that’s what you’re doing. When every comment you make is pimping an article (“I wrote a post about that once, check it out…”), you’ll find yourself banned or shunned in no time flat. When you take time to have an intelligent discussion with people who share the same vision, they’re going to want to check out the links in your signature. Conversational marketing works better than spam.
2. Visit other blogs – Other blogs in your niche are not your enemies or your competition, they’re colleagues. Instead of worrying about another site stealing your traffic, or who is higher in the Google Rankings, use other blogs to your advantage. Participate in the comments and offer a useful point of view. If you left a thoughtful remark, others might be include to check out the link in your signature line. Keep in mind it’s considered spam to drop your links anywhere but the appropriate space. Don’t drop links in your comment post unless invited to do so.
3. Join Facebook groups – Are you blogging about sewing? Facebook has sewing groups. Are you blogging about golf? Facebook has groups for golfers. Are you a celebrity blogger? Facebook has plenty of groups for star gazers. The purpose for joining these groups serves a couple of different purposes. The first is that you’ll be sharing news and tips with other people in the group, which will no doubt lead to ideas for new blog posts. Plus, as you build up relationships and friendships with others in the group, they’re going to be reading your profile more and checking your links.
4. Enjoy the conversation at Twitter – Notice how I said “enjoy the conversation?” I didn’t say, “do nothing but tweet links.” Again, it’s all about relationships. Search Twitter and find people who you think might be interesting to follow. Look for your favorite bloggers and the people who share similar interests, then start talking. Once you build up a following share links – but again – not all the time. Balance it out. The quickest way to be unfollowed is to only Tweet links.
5. Explore Ning – Like Facebook, Ning has many social media groups to explore. Find interesting groups to join and take part in discussions, or create your own. The possibilities are endless.
6. Promote your expertise – If you know enough about your topic that you can blog about it on a regular basis, you probably have some level of expertise. Promote yourself as an expert by giving interviews on other blogs, podcasts, websites, and more. Subscribe to a service such as HARO and look through the interview requests for suitable opportunities.
7. Guest post at other blogs – A couple of years ago, I wrote a guest blog post at ProBlogger and I gained much traffic as a result. Since then, I’ve guested at other blogs, also with positive results. Find the top blogs in your genre and offer to write a blog post or do an exchange with other bloggers so you can each benefit from the others’ traffic. (But don’t mistake guest blogging for stocking someone else’s blog with content for free. )
8. Use your keywords – I despise keywords. I probably could’ve been in Google’s top 10 for many search terms if I was more diligent about using them. I think keywords and phrases make writing sound unnatural. However, if you want to catch the attention of the search engines, there’s no other option. I don’t recommend finding keywords that sound awkward or don’t work in a sentence, but do find the top searches for your subjects and use them to your advantage.
9. Have a contest – Contests are a terrific way to gain new readers. Find something to giveaway and promote it on Twitter. If you use a service like Profnet for prize sponsors you’ll find many businesses are more than willing to offer prizes in exchange for promotional opportunities. If it’s a decent enough contest, other blogs will offer coverage and you’ll pick up some good backlinks.
10. Use your email signature -Your email program is bound to have a signature function. Put a link to your blog in the signature so everyone who receives email from you can check out your blogs.
11. Offer to have a cross blog discussion – Do you and other bloggers in your genre share opposing (but respectful) points of view? Offer to have a cross blog discussion where you each talk about an agreed-upon topic and link to, and make reference to each other’s blog posts.
12. Link to other blogs – Linking to other blogs is always a good thing. Not only do you catch the attention of other bloggers who might reciprocate, but if the other blog allows trackbacks, a link to your blog post will appear in the comments. Linking is good karma too.
13. Linkbait – Ever write a blog post that just went viral? Everyone linked to it, it received much Stumble love and months later, you’re still receiving traffic from it? A good linkbait can be a wonderful traffic booster.
14. Frequent posts – The more you post, the more likely folks will check back on a regular basis. When you leave a blog to languish or only post sporadically, readers respond in kind. They might bookmark you for later reading, but they won’t stop by once or twice a day. If you have a reputation for being a frequent poster, your readers will drop in often.
15. Attend conferences – I absolutely love attending blogging and social media conferences. They’re a great way to learn and a terrific way to meet people. Conferences are the one place where your can hand out business cards and talk about what you do without being labeled as self promoting. Every time I attend a conference my blog gains new readers.
16 – Take out an ad – Contact other blogs and websites in your genre about advertising. If you’re short on funds, offer to do an ad trade. If you’re not short on funds, invest in Google Adwords or another high visibility program. Everytime I’ve placed an ad for FWJ, I’ve more than doubled my investment.
17. Use social media buttons – See the “Tweet This” buttons at the bottom of the post? They work. If your readers enjoy what you write, they’re also likely to promote it. They’ll give it a Tweet or a Stumble and if you wrote something particularly brilliant they may even submit it to Digg or Reddit. While some days are better than others, there’s no denying these puppies work.
Blatantly holding up signs and saying, “Come to my blog, dammit!!!!” doesn’t sit well with many people. Taking the time to build relationships and use more subtle forms of promotion is not only more acceptable, but it works.
What do you do to promote your blogs?
Follow me on Twitter @debng and for FWJ updates @freelancewj
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