Creating a blog, filled with engaging, informative content isn’t enough. That is only half of the job. Now, we need to take your knowledge to the next level by understanding how to get blog traffic and connecting that content with the readers it was designed for by marketing your blog.
Marketing a blog is the process of finding where readers that would love your content live on the internet, then joining their “tribes”, building rapport and trust, and sharing content in a no pressure way. In this approach to digital marketing, readers will be drawn to your content as you deliver more value than you receive every step of the way.
As readers visit our blogs and enjoy our content, we continue to build relationships with them, capturing email addresses, staying in contact, and sharing more content they’ll love as a mutually beneficial favor.
This is what successfully marketing a blog looks like.
In this section we will review the tactics that will help you build a marketing process like this that grows your blog and serves your readers and help you decide the best marketing “channels” on the internet for you.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- Rule #1 Of Marketing Your Blog: Deliver More Value Than You Receive
- The Blog Marketing Process: Steps for Getting Readers to Your Blog
- The Marketing Channels I Recommend for Blogging & Why
- Digital Marketing Overview: How to Get Readers to Your Content
- The marketing channels I recommend
- Pinterest Marketing Overview
- Reddit Marketing Overview
- Quora Marketing Overview
- Overview of Marketing in Facebook Groups (Borrowed)
- The Channels I recommend Disregarding: Instagram, Facebook, and other Social Networks
- Why most social media doesn’t make sense for most bloggers
THE TAKEAWAYS & FACTS UP FRONT
- Your blog will need 2-3 “tribes” in which your content is welcome to survive. Begin cultivating rapport in those tribes now.
- Aim to build marketing channels that are less dependent on algorithms or changes towards “pay for engagement”
In the world we live in today, it is common (and justified) not to trust marketing communications. The average American is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements each day. Each ad is a bid for your readers’ hard-earned money and attention and a large portion of those advertisements offer something we don’t even need. With such an aggressive business and advertising environment we live in, with corporations large and small trying to sway our decision making processes against our own best judgment, nearly any marketing communication a person is posed with that is not exactly what they want at exactly the right time will likely be met with defensiveness. This includes bloggers peddling blog posts…and rightfully so.
As we think through the process of how to market our blog to attract readers, I want you to keep these aggressive, intrusive tactics in mind, and do everything in your power to avoid them when thinking about how to get blog traffic.
As a blogger and content creator, your number one goal should be to make content so valuable that it is naturally shared with enthusiasm because it entertains, engages, or solves a problem for anyone who reads it.
Now, think one step further. As we approach our “readers to be” in our preferred “marketing channels,” we want to approach them with the same care, delivering value in every interaction that far exceeds the gain we receive from a single click. We want to share so much value in every interaction that our soon to be readers are enticed to click that link to our post because they’re impressed with the value we’ve shared so far, and they don’t want to miss out on the value that waits behind that link.
We deliver this value after we’ve joined their “tribes” that align with our niche, after we’ve built rapport, and after we know they’ll be receptive to what we have to share.
That is how we will market your blog and your blog posts in social media and most “digital marketing channels”, one post at a time, sharing value that draws people in naturally.
Now, we’ll review the process of how to get blog traffic step by step quickly, than dig into each step in depth.
- Revisit the idea of who your “target reader” is
- Who will benefit from your content?
- Whose problems would be solved by your content?
- Who would fall in love with your content?
- Find where (on the internet) your target readers live and spend their time
- Spend time wandering through the places your potential readers live, getting to know their tribes, and understanding what kind of content (e.g., posts) they respond to best
- Contribute to their tribe in the way most popular with them, building rapport along the way
- In each post within the tribes, share a robust contribution in the language they speak, that doesn’t require them going to your blog – somewhere within that post, at the beginning or end, share a link to the source content alluding to the fact that the original post (on your site) is even more valuable
- Setup the appropriate email capture mechanisms on your site, with lead magnets
- Create an automated email series to further cultivate the relationship and familiarize the reader with your content
- Regularly email your email list to share content that delivers immense value to your readers and to maintain/grow the relationship with your loyal readership.
- Revisit the idea of who your “target reader”
In order to connect with our target readers genuinely, we need to fully understand our target reader. By doing this, we’ll have the knowledge to find them where they send their time on the internet, speak their language, and build rapport with ultimate goal of solving their problems and delivering the value they need (in the form of blog posts) to create a long-term relationship.
To understand generally who your target reader is, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who will benefit from your content?
- Whose problems will be solved by your content?
- Who would fall in love with your content?
- Find where (on the internet) your target readers live and spend their time
Now that we understand who you are writing for, we need to understand where they “live” on the internet. Not literally, but where do they spend the most time, interact, and find their content. Is it Facebook? On news sites? On forums?
Answering this question will help us understand where to find and connect with your target readers.
To understand where we’ll find your target reader, ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do my target readers spend their free time on the web to entertain themselves?
- Where do my target readers go to answer questions?
- Where do my target readers go to research purchases?
- Where do my target readers go to find their news?
When answering each question, think broadly – which websites, forums, groups, social media platforms, questions, etc., do they use?
In doing this step, understand that our blog marketing will not succeed on all platforms or in all the groups that we list. Our individual styles, the nature of our content, and the nature of our different reader demographics means that our marketing will fail in some “channels” and excel in others, and this is exactly what we want – to understand what works and repeat it. For now, we’re in the brainstorming phase, to test our marketing channels in the experimentation phase of establishing our blog post marketing processes.
We will review my favorite marketing channels shortly, but in brainstorming, consider each of the following platforms as options as starting points.
- Specific Forums
- Facebook Groups
- Spend time wandering through the places your potential readers live, getting to know their tribes, and understanding what kind of content (e.g., posts) they respond to
Once we’ve identified “places” on the internet where our “tribes” of potential readers live, we need to live with them for a period and experience them, the culture, and the environment for each tribe, in each channel.
Our goal is twofold:
- Understand if we fit in enough to that channel to genuinely connect with the tribe and share our ideas
- To understand what we will need to do to succeed in the chosen environment/channel/tribe
Taking some time to observe what happens in the place that we wish to share our content is prudent due diligence and necessary to gain the kind of insight that makes for great “marketing”. Keep in mind that “great marketing” is actually just sharing in a mutual beneficial way that benefits readers more than it benefits us.
During this phase, pay particular attention to how often external links are shared in the groups and forums, how acceptable it is to share external links based on the culture, and what types of links/content are best accepted. This information should inform the cadence at which you share your own content and can also inform your content creation process, so that you are creating content that members of your target group actually gravitate to.
An example of this may occur on a Reddit sub for DIY projects at home when we run a blog about woodworking plans. Spending some time reading through the posts and interacting with comments, paying attention to what gets upvoted (liked) and how cordial the interaction is lets us know if we even have a chance at delivering the kind of posts that excel and whether we’ll succeed or not. It also allows us to screen the Reddit users as the type of people we want to write for.
If the “tribe” communicates in a way that is natural to us, and accepts the kinds of sharing (posts) we provide, then we have a potential “marketing channel on our hand.
- Contribute to their tribe in the way most popular with them and build rapport
We’ve spent some time observing the group, its etiquette, and the content that succeeds, so we should be ready to contribute now, in a way that doesn’t benefit us, to test and warm up to the channel and tribe.
In this stage, spend some time simply contributing to the community in a way that adds value with no links back to your blog. If done properly, you should gain rapport and recognition as someone that shares things worth hearing.
This period of “contributing without gain” allows you to adjust to the community and tailor your delivery to the audience in a no pressure way. This prepares you to later contribute in the same way, but with a link to your own content in days to come.
- Share a robust contribution (post) in the language they speak, that doesn’t require them going to your blog, and add a link to your own content as the source, alluding to the idea that the post on your blog delivers even more value.
After you have learned the tribe, spent time in the tribe establishing credibility and building rapport, and contributing, then start contributing just as much in each post simply making the subject of the post the topic of your own content.
Share enough in every post to ensure each reader receives sufficient value without needing to click your link. This approach may seem to deter readers from clicking onto your blog (because they don’t need to) but actually garners more likes/upvotes because the post serves the community well ultimately gaining more visibility, establishing more credibility, and serving you better in the long run. If you’re worried about giving too much in the post, err on the side of giving too much away for free. For the sake of credibility and rapport, you always want to give more than you receive.
Within the post, embed a link to your content with a call to action along the lines of, “if you’re interested in more on [X] feel free to follow the link to this post.” Adding a teaser of the additional value the full post has, vs. partial post in the tribe.
- Setup the appropriate email capture mechanisms on your site, with lead magnets
Now that users are clicking into your site, you want to solidify, maintain, and develop the relationship with them by capturing emails and connecting with them directly.
Not only does this allow you to share new content with them directly, and even guide them through your posts in an automated email series, it builds a list of contacts that will be interested in your products to sell, once you start selling them.
Ensure that you have well designed email opt-ins and appropriate lead magnets to make the proposition of signing up worth the benefit the reader gains.
- Create an automated email series to further cultivate the relationship and familiarize them with your content
Once you know that the reader is interested in your content and clearly wants more (indicated by the email subscription), start the relationship by guiding them through your best content via email. Funnel these new readers into an automated email series that introduces your blog by sharing the most important posts, and follow up by maintaining contact in a way that builds the relationship by serving the reader.
(Note: We’ll review all of these requirements for good email marketing in subsequent chapters)
Regularly email you’re the reader on your email list to share content that delivers immense value and benefits to maintain/grow the relationship with your loyal readership.
Regularly, but infrequently, reach out to your email list to share new posts and to generally connect and keep the relationship warm and interesting.
This relationship (maintained via email marketing) will be great for sharing posts directly with your most loyal readers, but will have its highest value in marketing products you will create and sell later on
Now that we’ve gone over the blog post marketing process in a very general way, let’s briefly overview and compare the marketing channels I recommend examining for your own marketing plan.
In the following sections, we’ll dive deeply into the marketing tactics and how we will execute good marketing on each platform.
These are the marketing channels I suggest all new bloggers start with and test in their initial focus.
- Facebook Groups (Borrowed)
- Email Marketing
Each of these marketing channels serves a very specific purpose (either short term promotion or long-term promotion), are very predictable, and can be beneficial with a process-oriented marketing approach. Better yet, the best marketing and promotion on these platforms happens for free, as long as we come in with the right research and aim to give more than we take.
Keep in mind that very few people/blogs will perform well on all of these channels, and that’s fine. The most important thing is to test your blog’s performance on all of the platforms, aiming to identify 2 to 3 platforms or 3 to 5 tribes across channels to consistently share your content in.
What is Pinterest
Pinterest is a visual search engine in which well designed “pins” are shared by creators and reshared by users on “Pinterest boards” that we, as Pinterest users, build, manage, and fill with pins. These pins are indexed by Pinterest (just like Google indexes our blog posts) using titles and descriptions which we as bloggers and content creators optimize for our topics.
Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest is much more search engine than it is social media. Though there is comment functionality (like on social media), there is little conversation and interaction and post life (the length of time a posted pin drives traffic) can continue for months or years as it gets shared.
The Pinterest community is huge, with 320,000,000 active users each month, and 80% of women 25 to 55 use Pinterest. Over 50% of millennials and 40% of dads use Pinterest every month, and both numbers are growing.
Why market your blog on Pinterest
Within all of those demographics, users are frequently researching purchases as well as trying to solve problems and find DIY projects. This makes Pinterest an excellent platform for blogs and small businesses to share their ideas in a manner and place readers/customers will be receptive to. This fact, combined with the average lifespan of Pinterest posts with traction driving traffic for a year or more makes it an excellent opportunity for any problem-solving post, recipe, tutorial, or review to be shared on.
If you are weighing which social platform to invest your time and energy (after Google) Pinterest should be considered as your first option.
Which blog niches are best for Pinterest?
- Health and Fitness
- Finance and Budgeting
- Family and Home
- DIY/Tutorials/How To
A brief overview of marketing on Pinterest
To successfully market on Pinterest, start by researching what keywords you’ll use with “Pinterest SEO” and the basic search function.
After narrowing down your Pinterest “brand keywords”, create and buildout your profile and 10 boards, then populating your boards with a handful of pins to get started.
Finally, create 3 to 5 Pinterest pin templates and fill the 3 to 5 templates for each post on your site, then embed the pins in your site using Pinterest SEO keywords in the title and description.
Finally, share your pins in rotation in such a way that you will pin multiple times per day (ideally using an automated tool such as Tailwind).
When you’ve cycled through all of your pins, return to the pins and update the title and description, and repeat the process to re-pin.
You should regularly access your Pinterest analytics dashboard to analyze which pins are the highest performing, analyze the design cues, niches, and content that are most successful, and then update pins, pin info, and posts accordingly.
What is Reddit
Reddit is a single website touted as “the front page of the internet” that is essentially a massive collection of forums on every topic imaginable. On Reddit, users (Redditors) post ideas and questions and discuss questions through comments. Reddit is heavily information based its users are accustomed to reading medium to long form content, making it a great opportunity for bloggers to share their content.
Despite this seemingly juicy opportunity, don’t jump in without understanding Reddit culture first. Reddit culture and etiquette are very strong throughout the site and places user experience and the desire for intellectual contribution far above the tolerance for “self-promotion.” Redditors will eat self-promoting bloggers alive. Though this has been a problem for many bloggers that only wish to use Reddit as a platform for marketing, content creators with the goal of genuinely joining and interacting in Reddit communities (“Subs”), contributing far more than they gain have a great opportunity to interact with a tribe that is interested and devout to their niche.
Generally, it is better to approach Reddit as a user, just another Redditor engaging that just so happens to have a blog, instead of engaging as a brand or a blog that just so happens to have a Reddit account. Approach Reddit with this mentality and you won’t necessarily be welcomed everywhere, but you’ll find plenty of tribes to join, contribute to, and (eventually) share your content in.
Why market your blog on Reddit
- High traffic in the short term: Reddit posts can send thousands of users to a post in a single day, with post life being roughly a week, but still less fickle than most social media.
- SEO value in the long term: Reddit sometimes tags links as do-follow links for heavily upvoted content which is a positive traffic signals for Google (via Google analytics tracking codes on your site) and a great way to jumpstart SEO on new content
- Interaction with an engaged, interested tribe within your niche with value placed on in depth, long form content: Reddit has some of the most in depth conversations on the web, allowing you to go more in depth than you would on other channels and share your perspectives and expertise, as long as they add value
Who should market on Reddit? Which niches will succeed on Reddit?
The determining factor of whether or not Reddit is suitable for a blog is less about the niche and more about the author.
If you can join Reddit and actively participate (and be welcomed into) the sub-Reddits that relate to your blog without sharing your own content and while still being informative and gaining respect, then Reddit will likely be a great channel for you. If you cannot simply contribute in the subs without promoting your own content then avoid Reddit as the experience is likely to be somewhat sour for you.
However, if you can make the switch to delivering value first, marketing on Reddit can be an experience ripe with potential success and great experiences.
A Brief Overview of Reddit Marketing
To successfully market on Reddit, identify the Reddit “subs” that are relevant to your niche and join them.
After joining your target subs, read the about section of the sub for base level knowledge, rules, and etiquette for the sub. You’d be served well to read all of the recommended reading and introduction articles for the sub, all listed in the about section. Then, simply spend some time observing and interacting in the sub-Reddit to learn the culture and what type of content succeeds (gets “upvoted”) within the sub.
Start interacting by first just commenting on shared posts in a way that adds value to the sub, not just giving praise for ideas. Ask questions, encourage discourse, and share information in a way that makes everyone’s experiences better. Once you have a solid understanding of how to add value in the sub, begin sharing posts of your own that add value, but do not link to your own content until you’ve figured out how to create posts on Reddit that garner positive interactions and upvotes.
Finally, after you’ve built a healthy understanding of the sub-Reddit and rapport within the sub-Reddit, begin posting and sharing the valuable concepts and excerpts from your own content and linking out. You should still make it a point to deliver more value to the users in the sub than you get by posting. Be sure to respect the etiquette of 10 non-promotional posts to every 1 promotional post to avoid seeming spammy and bringing on the Reddit wrath, burning your channel, and getting kicked out of a sub.
What is Quora
Quora is a question and answer site on which users equally pose questions on nearly any topic and are open to answer questions on any topic as well. Users then upvote answers to questions which push them to them top of the answer stack increasing visibility within Quora.
Quora’s user base consists of over 300 million active users that tend to skew towards male, educated, adult, and professional than the user bases of other platforms and social media.
Reddit, which has a primarily male user base and heavily text-based interaction on the platform, is the perfect complement to Pinterest, which skews female in its demographics and is heavily visual and “lighter” in its content. Both deliver long term results for your blog and pairing them makes it possible to reach nearly any demographic.
Why Quora for marketing your blog
Using Quora is a simple, low risk, and straight means of marketing as great answers (that we can embed with links to our content) are upvoted, increasing visibility and clicks to our site, while content that is “not so good” simply sits with no adverse issues.
Though the payoff for answering each question can be somewhat slim, compared to the potential traffic on Pinterest, Reddit, and via SEO, Quora is an excellent place for new bloggers with no other assets for marketing to share their content. This sharing (even with lower traffic levels) can jumpstart SEO, traffic to our sites, and social sharing.
Additional features on Quora, such as blogs, give even more opportunities to leverage Quora’s reach for our blog marketing purposes.
Which blogs is Quora marketing best for?
New blogs, product content, tutorial content and informative content.
For new sites and blogs, Quora is an easy way to garner traffic, as long as you are willing to provide a well-crafted answer to the question posed, and you are selective about the questions you choose to answer.
Any informative content will likely be a good fit for promotion on Quora.
How to market your blog on Quora
Hop on Quora and search for your niche’s topic to search for questions to answer. Be selective about which questions you answer, aiming for low competition questions with few (less than 4) answers and high potential for views. As long as your content revolves around sharing information on a topic or solving a problem, you will easily find a Quora question to answer and parlay into a visit to your site in exchange for a more in-depth answer.
When answering, give just enough of the answer to be informative and fully respond to the question, and be more in-depth than any of the other answers, then allude to the extra value you deliver on your post before linking out. Providing 20% to 30% of your blog post value in your Quora answer is a good metric. Throughout your answers, balance text with visuals to make the content more engaging and increase the number of views
All other forms of marketing for your blog should lead into capturing emails and email marketing.
Whereas every other marketing channel and approach is based on a platform we do not own, email marketing, supported by our email list, is the only channel we do own. Creating a list of email addresses for dedicated, interested readers makes our blog resistant to the fickle whims of social media algorithms, Google algorithm changes, and blogging industry changes. More importantly, email marketing allows us to build relationships with a tribe of readers and potential customers for products we create down the road.
We absolutely need to market our blog via other channels to gain traffic, but email marketing helps us keep traffic through the storms.
Invest in email marketing from the start of your blog for long term, high ceiling potential for success.
What is Email Marketing (for Bloggers)?
Email marketing can basically be broken down into a two-part process.
The first stage in email marketing consists of capturing the email addresses of users, generally via strategically placed and designed “opt-ins” throughout the site, through which users can sign up for email updates in exchange for “lead magnets”.
The second stage in email marketing (that extends indefinitely) consists of cultivating the relationship with your reader (and new subscriber), sharing content, updates, and potentially sharing products too through email communications.
The goal throughout this email marketing experience is to continually stay connected and build rapport with your readers so that, at a later date you can share new posts, share new products, or canvas your tribe for ideas, interests, and unmet needs.
Key Terms in Email Marketing
- Opt-in: A box on your site that users submit their email address, and optionally other info, to subscribe to your emails
- Lead Magnet: A free product delivered in exchange for the reader’s subscription, generally a small, low effort information product
Why is email marketing important for bloggers?
- Email marketing is the only marketing channel you will ever truly own
- Email marketing and a well-developed email list is the defining trait of bloggers that make $10,000+ per month and sell their own products
We’ve already discussed how social media channels and their algorithms can change access to your audience at any instant, but an email list is something you will always own and can use to connect directly with your users. This is the main reason email marketing complements your blog (which you own) so well.
Additionally, bloggers that make more than $10,000 per month are differentiated by how they sell their own products and courses. This ability to sell their own information products is heavily underpinned by great email marketing (and a long email list) that allows them to gradually share and sell those products to a tribe that has already expressed interest in and subscribed to regularly receiving their content. The resulting sales, from broaching a tribe that is familiar with you and expects you to create content and products for them far exceeds the potential sales that would come from cold dropping a product we’ve created in a forum or group on social media.
If you want your blog to make more than five figures a month, then mastering email marketing and creating a large email list is a prerequisite.
When should you start email marketing for your blog?
You should start capturing emails from the traffic to your site immediately.
Granted, you will not create a perfect opt-in, lead magnet, or email series at the start, and likely won’t for some time, but you should start the process immediately. You can always optimize and improve at a later date.
Overview of the email marketing process
- Embed email subscription opt-ins on your site (read the email marketing section below for more details)
- Offer a “lead magnet” in exchange for subscribing to your email list
- Trigger an automated welcome email and email series that guides the new subscriber through your best and most significant content
- Continue emailing your list of subscribers to update them on new content while genuinely staying in touch and building the relationship (and rapport)
- (Down the road) leverage your list as part of a marketing campaign for the products you will eventually sell
THE CHANNELS I RECOMMEND DISREGARDING (AT THE START): INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, AND OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKS
Though the initial urge (and recommendation from observers) for new bloggers is to jump on every social media platform and blast their posts – I highly recommend against this.
Yes, you should go onto all social media platforms and claim the handles for your brand…for later use.
No, you shouldn’t waste time building a presence or followership on social media if you don’t already have one. Here’s why…
You own your blog. You don’t own social media platforms.
Your blog is an asset you own and that you control. No one can alter it without permission. No one can take this away from you. No one can alter how users behaves while they’re on it…except you.
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and every other platform are all owned by their parent companies (and their shareholders), which can dictate changes on the platform (algorithms, visibility, monetization schemes, etc.) that detrimentally impact you at any time, and you have no say in it.
For this reason, it is a better investment of your time and energy to build content on a platform that you own, and build it in a way that traffic natural gravitates to it without heavy social media promotion on fickle platforms. Focus on making great content on your platform, not on social media. Then share lightly on those platforms to guide potential new readers to your content, but invest heavily in your own content. Don’t invest heavily in content on a platform you don’t own.
Social media platforms (and the “influencers” on them) are subject to the whims of algorithms and corporate changes
Talk to any Instagram influencer that has been around more than a few years and you’ll hear the horror stories of algorithm changes that cut their user engagement in half overnight, subsequently cutting their income overnight.
As Facebook sought out ways to monetize and settled heavily into ads, Facebook began limiting the access of brands to followers of their pages or groups – this meant that despite the fact that users had already subscribed, brands still had to pay to access their followers.
And the horror stories of social media marketing go on and on.
It is the job of social media platforms to make money from the users and adapt their business model (and algorithms) accordingly, usually targeting businesses and brands (like us) to pay for the platform (via ads and promoted posts). As such, we can depend on social media traffic to not be dependable in the long term.
Though it may feel like a quick win to invest in social media, each minute spent on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat is generally better spent creating excellent content, optimizing for SEO, sending out brief “signals” to Google via our chosen marketing platforms, and allowing our audience to share what resonates with them.
Don’t invest in someone else’s business. Invest in your own.
ACTION ITEMS FOR THIS SECTION
- Claim the handles and usernames for your brand on all of the platforms listed above (Reddit, Quora, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and any other potential forums)
- Screen out three marketing channels listed above to start with. Identify two to three “tribes” on each and join. Start by observing. Progress to engaging.
- Begin posting (as a genuine user) on the two to three platforms that best fit your content, personality, and preferred approach.
If you have a site already, create opt-ins and a simple lead magnet to start capturing emails today. Use the free version of “MailChimp” to power your email marketing until you proceed to the email marketing section of this book