How to promote your blogposts
“Content is King” is one of the most important slogans for serious bloggers: No matter how well you promote your blog, if your content – what and how your write – is mediocre, people might discover your blog, but won’t come back. Good, original content is key.
It also works the other way round: you can write the best content but if people don’t discover your blog, you will be writing in a void. There is nothing as frustrating for a blogger than to write a fantastic post, … and see nobody reads it.
Here are the basic promotion techniques I use each time I publish a blog post:
1. Tweet your blog post. And tweet it well.
Even if you already have a faithful audience for your blog, and racked up a good number of people who read your RSS, tweeting new blogposts is a must. Not only will you ‘guide’ people to your new blog post, but if they like it, they will retweet it and pull even more people to your post.
Keep in mind the basic Twitter tips and tricks I described in an earlier post. Make the tweet attractive. Don’t just post something like:
New blogpost: “What is RSS and what can you do with it?” http://bit.ly/23RD70
Put some spank into it. Make it eye-catching:
So few bloggers make proper use of RSS tools. Do you? http://bit.ly/23RD70
Spent the last two weeks collecting my favourite RSS tools: http://bit.ly/23RD70
As you want your followers to retweet your message, make it easy for them: Keep your tweet short enough so when it is retweeted, your followers don’t run out of space. 140 characters maximum, remember? Leave room for them to at least be able to retweet:
RT @BloggerTip Spent the last two weeks collecting my favourite RSS tools: http://bit.ly/23RD70
2. Repeat Tweets: Tweet your post again. And again.
Many people only tweet their blogpost once, and leave it at that. Wrong. Nobody keeps his or her eyes on the Twitter screen all the time, so there is a very good chance many of your Followers miss your post.
So don’t be ashamed to tweet your blogpost again after a few hours. And again, the next day. I would advise, though, to rephrase your tweet slightly every time. Don’t be a bore and re-broadcast the same tweet (apart from the fact that Twitter outlawed duplicate tweets recently)
A must read on the importance of Repeat Tweets is this interesting analysis by Guy Kawasaki .
3. Spin your Tweets
“Spinning” is a technique we often use at work to promote a blogpost. We have our “official” work Twitter account, next to our personal accounts. Each of those Twitter accounts have their own audience with their own interests or focus. Once we tweeted a new blogpost on our “official account”, we retweet it from our personal accounts, leaving a bit of pause between each of the retweets.
At the same time, if we are really convinced the blog post we just wrote is a killer, then we send direct messages or replies to targeted fellow bloggers, and active Twitter followers asking them to retweet the post. Do this sparingly, though. You don’t want to be seen as a Twitter-spammer by your followers.
We once did the test, and followed the statistics through our bitly URL statistics while we were spinning a particular set of tweets all pointing to one single blogpost. In one afternoon, we had 1,000 hits on the post, ONLY coming from Twitter users. Not bad, hey?
4. And then there was social bookmarking.
While we all dream to have a blogpost discovered by Digg, BoingBoing or Fark, you only have one chance in a million to create a hit post. Over the past three years, I have been blogging, I was only lucky twice: A story about my unhappy encounter with US immigration hit BoingBoing and was good for over 15,000 hits. A short blogpost calculating how many children we could feed with one day of war in Iraq was picked up by Digg. Good enough for 12,000 hits on my blog.
But those were the exceptions to the rule. I no longer spend much time on these mainstream social bookmarking sites.
As for the smaller ones like Diigo etc.., I used these extensively for about a year, but had to conclude it was not worth the effort.
Here is the approach I suggest to use for each:
On Reddit I subscribe to the most popular “Reddits” or “Reddit communities”. Amongst the popular Reddits, I regularly post on “funny”, “news”, “worldnews”, “pic”, “pics”, “video”, “WTF”. These are all “generic” user groups, and if you post anything there, it really needs to be a blogpost of generic interest.
The advantage of posting on these generic groups is not only the amount of traffic it generates on your blog, but also the potential of people discovering your blog: Statistics on my blogs show 7% of the people coming from social bookmarks will browse more than the single page they land on.
Almost all worthy posts I write in the nonprofit sector, I post on the Humanitarian Reddit. While the amount of traffic is not very high, the quality is very good: only those interested in the nonprofit sector will subscribe to the “Humanitarian Reddit”, and thus will be interested in my nonprofit blogsite..
Equally, posting a link on IdealistNews does not generate a lot of traffic, but these are interested people. So I religiously post nonprofit blogposts on this social bookmarking site.
Stumbleupon is another bookmarking animal to tackle, but definitively worth to post your blogpost on. While statistics on my sites show Stumbleupon only accounts for 3-4% of my incoming traffic, some posts really get a boost from it, generating sometimes over 1,000 hits in a single day.
Don’t forget to use the proper tags when posting on Stumbleupon. The most popular are once again “news”, “pictures” and “video”, but there are a few which are nonprofit related: “advocacy” “humanitarian” “poverty” “environment”,… Experiment a bit, it is worth it.
Whatever you do on social bookmarking sites, though, your key is to find a catchy and descriptive title for your bookmark, and to tag it well.
If you want to try mass submission to a ton of social bookmarking sites, experiment with SocialMarker.