You’ve just launched a new blog or other website and you’re wondering what it’s going to take to get some traffic. The answer is simple:
You’ve got to promote your content on other websites!
Don’t wait for traffic to discover you because it may never happen. You’ve got to go where the traffic is and try to divert some of it to your little slice of the Internet. They’re just not going to show up accidentally.
Once you have your first few articles together to create a site worth visiting, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start spending more time promoting your content than creating new content.
What’s a good rule for how much time to spend on promotion versus creation?
Well, until you’ve gotten a sizable audience and enough backlinks so you can rank for keywords with interesting volume, I’d say you should be spending 80% of your time on content promotion and only 20% on content creation.
Once you’re established, you can flip that and start targeting keywords with more content that you know you can rank for. But you never stop promoting your content. And, even though you’re spending less time on a percentage basis promoting, you will also have developed some automated systems or started using more VA’s (Virtual Assistants) to do some of the promotion.
As an example, for my big solopreneur business, CNCCookbook, I try to write 3 or 4 new blog posts a week. At my peak, I was doing 5 a week. The reason I cut back an article is I spend that time doing lots of keyword research and other SEO-related tasks that make a difference.
For this entrepreneurship blog, it’s relatively new and doesn’t have near the following. Let’s be real, CNCCookbook has thousands of articles and gets 4.5 million visitors a year. This will be my 12th post for BobWarfield.com, and the site was launched barely a month ago. Still, during that first month I got nearly 5,000 visitors and have grown my mailing list to 400.
Not too shabby for a brand new website!
So let’s go through the various ways I have been promoting BobWarfield.com, and also a few I use for CNCCookbook so I can talk about some of the tricks for each method and how well they work relative to one another.
By the way–don’t fall into the trap of deciding you’ll just do everything on one of these platforms like Facebook. You’ll start out thinking you’re the rancher and discover you’re the cow before you know it!
#1 – Facebook
Facebook is huge–it gets over 1 billion users every single day!
Why wouldn’t you tap into that tidal wave of visitors?
The trick is in how you go about it. First thing’s first, make sure you’re easy to find on Facebook:
- Make any existing Facebook pages you have refer to your web site. Some put a reference to their Facebook presence, but I prefer to refer to the web site.
- Create a Facebook page for your business. A lot of folks will prefer to use the Facebook newsfeed to bring them content versus an RSS reader, for example.
- Make sure your Facebook Business page refers them to your web site, perhaps via a “Learn More” button.
You want all that in place so that when you start promoting your content on Facebook, people can find out more about you without leaving Facebook. Trust me, it matters a lot.
Now, likewise, on your website or blog, make sure you have social sharing buttons for Facebook and any other Social Platforms you want to promote to. I’ve got sharing buttons in the sidebar and also at the bottom of each blog post.
That’s just the homework, not the promotion, but it doesn’t take too long. I spent an afternoon pulling it all together for this site.
Now you’re ready to promote. The formula to follow is pretty much the same as for the other platforms I’ll talk about. Here it is:
- Find Facebook Groups that your ideal audience frequents. For example, the Smart Passive Income Community is filled with entrepreneurs, so is a good spot for me to promote my content.
- As you’re making your list of Facebook Groups that matter for your business, take note of how large they are (Smart Passive Income has over 30,000 followers) and whether they allow promotion (SPI allows promotions on Friday, and they’re fairly lenient towards blog post links that really are on target and help someone asking a question). Be sure to read through enough to see exactly how promotions work, both by checking the rules and by observing other promoting in action.
Some Facebook Groups may be large and full of your kind of people, but they just don’t allow effective promotion. Others allow so much promotion that they’re too spammy and you’re unlikely to capture enough attention. Neither of these are the droids you’re looking for, move on.
- Now this is important–hang out with the group enough to get a feel for the most common questions people in the group have. You’ll be glad you did momentarily.
- Start writing blog posts that have excellent detailed step-by-step answers to those questions.
- When you have an appropriate post, go research all of your promotion platforms and look for opportunities to provide the answer to those questions in the form of your blog post.
- This is also very important–you want to answer in the Facebook Group with enough detail to be really useful and to whet the appetite of the reader enough to click through to your blog.
Learning to do this can be a bit of an art, but it really helps to give out that little appetizer morsel to facilitate click-through. Remember, nobody knows you or your business yet, so they need maximum incentive to click through!
A great image and a great headline are also a big help to clickthroughs.
Once you get good at doing this, it doesn’t take too long. Draw up a calendar and use it to know which groups to visit on which days. Keep adding to your library of helpful posts to answer questions and keep an eye out as those questions are asked over and over again.
BTW, I created this post for the same purpose, but it was also a topic I wanted to write about and share with my normal entrepreneur audience. That’s what’s fun about promoting your content!
#2 – LinkedIn
Same deal, except if you’re a business or professional that’s been using LinkedIn for years, you may already have an audience in the form of your contacts. Make sure you’re getting every blog post out to that audience. It’s easy to automate the process using something like Buffer, or just do it manually with your share buttons.
In addition, you want to get involved with as many LinkedIn Groups as you can if you think your audience hangs out in those groups. Follow the same recipe as with Facebook with one difference–I find that just posting a little blurb about your blog post without researching who is asking questions is easier and works better.
LinkedIn is more of a sit back on the couch and watch things go by experience than Facebook, which is more engaged. It’s also stronger for B2B (selling to businesses) than B2C (selling to consumers).
Just like Facebook, make sure your profile on this platform guides people to your web site and presents you as a suitable authority for what you’re trying to sell. This is a requirement for all the social platforms, so I’ll quit saying it on each one. Just don’t forget to take care of it!
#3 – Pinterest or Instagram
Pick one, but you need a visually oriented social platform. I was shocked to discover that Pinterest is the #1 social media traffic source for my CNCCookbook business. I was shocked because:
- My business is about Computer-Controlled Machine Tools. It’s audience is overwhelmingly male yet Pinterest is overwhelmingly female.
- My business is probably 60% B2B (sales to professionals who use CNC Machines) and 40% B2C (sales to hobbyists who like to play with CNC Machines). Pinterest is overwhelmingly consumer-oriented, not B2B.
- I hadn’t really even been actively trying to promote on it because I “knew” my audience wasn’t there.
Imagine my surprise when I noticed it delivered a little over 2x as many visitors as Facebook!
Here’s all I was doing.
I find Pinterest “scrapbooking” to be very relaxing. I was just collecting pictures of things I loved there. I have a bunch of boards, and I would allow myself a half hour a day to relax and pin images. I uploaded very few of my own–I was just a curator of other people’s great images.
I’ve got 25 boards there that are about everything from CNC (my business) to cars, food, and travel (my passions). Mostly, it’s just stuff I thought was cool. But, I have 4000 followers and the thing has become a traffic engine for my site.
I think every business needs to experiment with one of the highly visual social platforms, probably either Pinterest or Instagram. Even if you don’t think your audience is there, it may surprise you as it did me!
#4 – Medium
Medium is basically a ready-made blogging platform. You write “Stories” there. There are interest groups and there are also syndications of like-minded bloggers.
If your articles are good enough to get into one of the syndications, your traffic will skyrocket almost overnight. Shaunta Grimes is a great example. She joined medium just two months ago as I write this, but since she’s a great writer and is syndicated, she has already got 9700 followers and she comes up constantly in searches.
I wait a week to be sure Google knows where the original post came from so I get the SEO credit, then I repost every blog post to medium.
You can also get a lot of traction with comments. In fact, I’ve done better with comments than posts. It’s the same game–look for opportunities to comment that involve your providing some choice “appetizer” information in the comment and then referring folks to a link to one of your posts for deeper insights.
The downside of Medium?
It’s audience is very discerning, they’re always after a new shiny object, and so you get little bumps of traffic here and there, but it’s hard to get a sustained push. Unless you get syndicated, of course. But you’re going to have to be a seriously good writer with seriously great things to say.
You’re also going to have to offer your best work to the syndication first and might not even be able to publish it on your own blog. Personally, I concluded I was better off being a lite user of Medium than swinging for the fence. But, I may get back in with a serious try later.
#5 – Quora
As I said in the title, Quora is my favorite promotion tactic for this blog. Pinterest is my favorite for the other blog, but I haven’t gone there yet with this blog.
Why is it my favorite?
Because it’s so easy, it works so well, and it is fairly evergreen. During this blog’s first month, Quora produced just as many referrals as Facebook, although I had to spend a LOT more time to get that many leads out of Facebook.
How did I do it?
Basically, you’re looking for opportunities to do what we’ve been doing above–present an answer that contains a tasty morsel and a link back to your site for the rest of the meal.
Here’s the odd thing about Quora–it’s hard to track it in Google Analytics. They show up as “Direct” traffic rather than referrals. I almost gave up on them too soon before I started researching why I was getting so much Direct traffic to some hard to type in URL’s.
Once I realized what was going on and could estimate how much “excess” Direct traffic I was getting, I realized that at least for this moment in time, Quora was one of the best if not THE best place for me to promote content to entrepreneurs.
What you want to look for are either new questions that are on target or older questions with big followings. Those followers will hear about it if you add another answer to the question, but the bar is higher on established questions. A lot of good answers have already been given and you have to think about how to hit the audience with a different and intriguing spin.
A great image and headline helps as does just starting out saying why your take on the issue is different. Perhaps even disagreeing with the most prominent answer, especially if they are a prominent authority. Don’t disagree in a nasty way, do so in a way that indicates perhaps the original answer didn’t consider all the options, but the ones it did consider are perfectly good.
#6 – Reddit
Reddit can be a great source if your audience involves Geeks of one kind or another as mine does. It is totally non-visual and seems to attract more of a facts and figures crowd. Yes, people do host images there, but they don’t show up inline.
The other thing to be aware of is that the Reddit community is rabidly anti-spam. They can literally vote you off the island if they feel you’re doing too much self-promotion.
The solution is not to do any self-promotion until you have accumulated at least 100 positive points, and then to only make about 1/3 of your posts anything remotely construed as self-promotion.
And never, ever try to directly sell anything even via a link to a sales page.
With very little effort–I post maybe once a month–Reddit is my 4th best social channel for CNCCookbook where it handily beats Twitter.
I work harder on it for this blog so it generates about 1/2 the traffic that Facebook does. Not bad!
#7 – Blog Comments
You know all those great keywords you wish you could rank for, but your site just doesn’t have the backlink juice for it?
Well, someone else does. Maybe you can get a little love by commenting on their posts. This post was created specifically so I could comment on one of Neil Patel’s posts. He’s been one of my marketing idols and I study him religiously.
His sites have near-infinite backlinks so he can rank for anything he chooses. Plus, he’s very comment friendly, although recently he did go to NOFOLLOW.
Some things to know:
- Like all the rest, you need to add value and not just promote. Bring up some things that the original author didn’t mention that add value to the overall post.
- You can disagree politely with the author, but be careful. They don’t have to publish your comments.
- Many blogs mark all links in comments “NOFOLLOW”. This tells Google not to give you any backlink credit. That’s fine. If you find a blog that allows FOLLOW links, so much the better, but you’re hoping some of the folks who visit and comment will like your stuff and visit you too.
Google and your RSS Reader are your friends for finding these opportunities. Each time you do a new blog post, Google for articles covering the same topic that are new in the last month and try to go comment on them. I like new articles because the existing audience is still actively visiting the article plus your comment will be closer to the top and less likely to be buried.
#8 – Guest Posting
This is a huge opportunity if you can tap into it. The trick here is outreach to blog owners. You’ve got to sell them on why to mention your content and on why they should take a guest post from you. If you win, you get to have the links, the traffic, and the recognition working for you.
I guest post my big CNCCookbook blog in a couple of high value ways. First, I do a monthly video series for a prominent national CNC magazine. Second, a couple of prominent CNC machine manufacturers guest post my content.
For my new blog, I was lucky. I syndicate from my CNCCookbook blog. That audience has a lot of entrepreneurs who are interested. I was also invited to syndicate to another group called the Enterprise Irregulars who like the entrepreneurial content as well.
Those opportunities all fell into my lap because people liked the content. That can certainly happen, but proactively reaching out via email is important too.
Here’s an example of an email I sent to try to generate some interest in my free productivity course:
Hey XXXXXX, I know you’re Mike’s assistant, so I thought I’d get in touch with you.
I’m Bob Warfield. After spending my life starting and building new companies (both venture capital and lately solopreneur) to seven and eight figure success stories, I’m kicking back a bit. I love the entrepreneurial lifestyle so much, I wanted to help others achieve it for themselves.
Naturally I came across Mike’s blog and just as naturally, I loved it! We are kindred spirits about helping new entrepreneurs. Putting LIFE back into business is so important, especially for small business and entrepreneurs. I’m afraid it may be too late for giant corps, but the little guys need the help and the also need the inspiration. You folks give both in spades!
I don’t mean to overstep, and if you’ve already covered this base, kudos! I’m just trying to meet more kindred spirits, and my approach to that is to bring something to them. You know, like bringing a cake to the new neighbors that just moved in down the street, LOL.
I know you’ve brought a lot of great resources to your readers, so I wanted to bring something more you could offer your readers. Something of real value that they can get for free.
One of the things that hangs up a lot of new entrepreneurs is figuring out how to get everything done. Boy, don’t I know it—I always bite off more than I can chew. I think it’s in an entrepreneur’s blood. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to do better.
Throughout my career I’ve been a productivity junkie. I’ve tried so many life hacks, I’ve lost track. I’ve even helped to create some. I’m one of the original inventors of a set of techniques for software developers that goes by the name “Agile” or “Scrum”. It’s what practically all of the world’s leading software companies use to be more productive. What may surprise you, is the same techniques work for individuals working on almost any project.
I’ve packaged together a 5 lesson online video training that I’m giving away free to anyone who signs up for my weekly entrepreneur’s newsletter. This blog post describes the course and its background.
I think your readers would like and appreciate the course, and hope you’ll call their attention to it. I know you’ve got a “Productivity” category for your blog and this would slot right into that.
I’d also love to find other ways we might work together, perhaps guest posting, for example. My main business gets 4.5 million visitors a year and I run it as a Solopreneur.
BobWarfield.com is my brand new blog helping entrepreneurs. I cross-post all my content to both places so it goes out to a lot of folks.
I’m eager to hear your thoughts!
Note how it works to establish my credibility and to offer something that may be valuable to this blogger’s readers (a free productivity course). In the spirit of walking before we run, I suggest maybe exploring other options, such as guest posting.
It’s gotten me a phone call scheduled with a prominent blogger so we’ll see where it leads. I get a nibble from about 1 in 10 queries, so don’t be too discouraged if it seems slow. There are a lot of ways to do these queries and this is just one example. Do the legwork and it will pay off.
#9 – Soup Up Older Content
This one works like a champ for older blogs like my CNCCookbook blog. Periodically, and especially when I want to do an in-depth post but don’t have the time, I go back and look for posts I did that have a lot of inbound links, but whose traffic has died down.
I know these posts are great topics because people took time to link to them. They’re proven, in other words.
So, I go to Google, research the heck out of the topic to see what I missed the first time around, beef up the article with the new information, edit it to make it read better, and just generally soup it up big time.
If the clickthrough rate from searches is too low (my threshold is 6%), I will also try to beef up the meta description and the title.
Last 2 steps are to publish it as a new article and set up a 301 redirect so the links to the old article now go to the new one. If you did it right you get even more links and lots of social shares which leads to a big burst of renewed SEO and Social traffic. The article promotes itself really well, in other words.
But, since it’s a new article, you’re going to promote it too using all these other methods we’ve been talking about.
#10 – Google Plus
I like Google Plus, but for one funky reason–I can often get a Google Plus announcement of a new post to appear in search results I have no hope of ranking for otherwise. Therefore I always mention my posts on Google Plus. It’s super easy to do and it works surprisingly well.
#11 – YouTube (or Vimeo)
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world (after Google itself, which also owns YouTube) and anyone can guest post there as often as they like. Plus, video is one of the top ways to drive engagement and reach certain audiences.
This is one of those deals like the image-oriented platforms (Pinterest and Instagram). You need to cover the video base. This one is ideal for repurposing content. The idea is to take some or all of the content from a blog post and turn it into a video.
Since you already did all the homework for the blogpost, if you have any kind of knack at all for videos, it should be easy to create a video based on the written post. All you need is to be able to speak to the subject on the video and bring along enough visuals to make it interesting. Your blog should already have a few of the visuals, so that leaves you finding a few more.
If you do the video as I often do by recording a talk against a Powerpoint slide show (I use Camtasia to do this), it’s pretty easy to crank out a video. Plus, you can share the slideshow on Slideshare for even more promotion.
Just make sure the video and slideshow refer back to your site and to the (presumably) even more in-depth blog post.
Bonus Tip: You can’t do it all, test then focus
If you try to do all 11 things continously and well, you’ll burn out in a hurry and probably wind up doing a poor job on all of them. What you need to do is test them and then focus on the ones that bring you the biggest bang for the buck.
You have to test because every audience is different. Not only that, your ability to execute each strategy will differ too. Choose the ones that work for your audience and skills. That’s best done by trying each of them and keeping careful track of how much you invest and what the results are. Ideally, you’re trying several side-by-side so that as many variables as possible are kept the same.
Go forth, be fruitful by promoting, and grow your business!
PS Got some great tips of your own for promoting blog posts? Tell us in the comments!
(Cross-posted @ Bob Warfield)