Before I begin the second part of “How to growth hack your blog and increase readership” if you have not read part 1 of this two-part series I strongly encourage you to do so. The setup and structure presented in Part 1 are ½ the equation to successfully growth hacking your blog.
The next question after publishing is “now what”, what do I do from here? I wrote an awesome blog post, researched my keywords and used the best relevant keywords for my blog, captured found or licensed the perfect image, set a relevant category put it all together and published my post. Should I just sit back and wait for the hits to roll in? I know that anyone who has worked on a website or blog just choked or laughed at that one.
A common misconception about websites and blogs is that you place an article, a product, a good or service online and the masses will flock to it. Folks, you literally have better odds of hitting the lottery than going from unknown to an internet “all-star blogger” by just posting and waiting. You have to promote your blog. So where do you begin promoting? Well here’s how you start promoting your blog.
There is a popular belief that you need to manually submit your websites to search engines for your website to be found. The fact is internet search engines have become so proficient in their functions that this is no longer necessary. The fact is if your blog has been online for a week or more, most likely the search engines have found your site and begun to index it, that is as long as the site does not violate their indexing terms, which are very lenient.
There are many “paid” services out there advertising that they will submit your website to search engines for you. First, search engine submission is free and as stated before unnecessary. That said I will suggest that you sign up for webmaster tools for your site at Google, Bing, and Yandex. Having these accounts will not help your site get indexed faster but it does do two things it allows you to tell the main search engines where your sitemap is and it allows the search engines to tell you if they detect a problem on your website. Then you can address the issue. The vast majority of search engines today are “powered by” Google, Bing, or Yandex. Being “powered by” simply means they pull the search results from another search engines. Google, Bing, and Yandex often index sites by finding links to a new site on popular websites (Hint: G+, facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Etc.)
If utilized correctly, social media is a great resource for promoting your blog. Please note I said utilized correctly. Let’s set some ground rules for social media.
Rule number 1: If you are going to promote your blog on social media ex. Facebook, twitter, etc., and you should build an account specifically for the genre of your blog. Do not use your personal social media account. A certain percentage of your readers will either come from your social media accounts or will follow your social media accounts. If you in business or have chosen to advertise on your blog the absolute last thing you want your readers to see is a facebook post that you were tagged in about “Aunt Ethel’s hemorrhoids and how hard it is growing older” right after you just poured your heart and soul into completing and sharing a post on your blog about the “joy’s of growing older”. I put this in as a funny example but it actually happened to a blogger friend of mine. Needless to say, the blog post got fewer than normal leads from facebook.
Rule number 2: join groups on your favorite social media sites or use and follow hashtags about your genre. Social Media is just that, social. You need to interact with people to grow. Just like in real life you will only have people follow and comment on your posts if you do the same. A couple rules of thumb are: only promote in groups that specifically state you can share relevant information in the group and when sharing absolutely do not share more than 1 of your own posts for every 10 or more of other people’s posts you share. If the number of your personal shares, of your own works, narrows below 10:1 ratio you will be perceived as a spammy member and loose followers or your personal post will just be ignored.
Building followers on social media are key to social media endeavors. Without followers, your social media endeavors will not be very successful. Yes, it takes time and effort.
Since twitter is such a unique animal I have a specific post dedicated just to twitter and growing that social media platform it’s called “How to build niche authority on twitter for free” if twitter is you main platform of social media like it is mine, it’s a good read on how I took a twitter account from a couple thousand followers to now over 87,000 followers. If you would like to check this claim my twitter handle is @cfleesphotograp.
As for social media platform, musts are twitter, facebook, Google plus, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn these are the primaries for bloggers and creatives. If you make visual video content of course youtube is the way to go.
These are not the only platforms for social media sharing but they are the largest. You should also explore niche social media sites. For example, a few niche websites for travel photographers are: Steller Stories, of course, pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, Mood Away , Youpic , and Trover. Every niche has a group of social media sites that are designated for a specific niche and lovers of the work from that niche. It may take you a little bit to compile a list of social media platforms that are dedicated to your niche but once you find them check their Alexa rankings. Alexa will give you the sites worldwide ranking along with its average traffic numbers. If Alexa ranks a site 10 million in the world and with only a few thousand visitors a day you may want to pass on that site and find join a platform with more daily visitors.
Rule #3 create interesting posts or creative commentaries with your posts. No one really enjoys “in real life articles or comments in a blog which resemble the dry humor of Ben Stein in the movie Ferris Bueller’s day off. If you are not sure what I am talking about below is a short Youtube clip from the movie.
As you can tell it’s not very lively, if you watch the entire movie it is funny in a kind of corny way. That is not exactly the best growth hack strategy. Your posts need to have some life, some pizazz, and to be informative and catchy. After all, your objective is growth, not to put people to sleep with your writings. If you’re taking the time to write solid blog posts then why would you not take the time to write solid posts to accompany your and advertise your posts on social media.
Guest blogging is a great way to get high exposure and links back to your own blog. Guest blogging simply works like this. You develop an idea or concept for a blog post and instead of writing the post and posting it to your own blog you approach an established blogger or website with a blog. One way to find guest blogging opportunities is to do a search in google similar to this “guest blogging+your niche”. Do not forget the quotation marks in the search. Some websites pay for guest blogging but most provide a backlink to your blog and a brief description of your blog topic(s). Sites that have a lot of traffic (over 50,000 visitors a day) will be your best bet. You can use Alexa to check the traffic of the site.
While it may seem counterproductive to your own blog just consider this, a few well-written blog posts will give you and your website to how many daily readers? Using the figures and numbers above how long would it take you to expose your website to that many readers? If the conversion number is around 3% on a very well written informative article, that one article could bring your blog, 1500 new readers. One suggestion, if you decide to submit guest blogs submit an inquiry and concept abstract to the site owner or blogger before you move forward writing a post.
Participating in a forum will help the exposure to your blog. Most forums have a profile page which you can list your website information however it is your interaction with the post that piques interest in your blog. One of the things to be aware of it is very tempting to enter into a forum and make a comment like “great post” or “I agree” or some such message. Although it is tempting DO NOT DO IT. Making those types of comments are regarded as spam and they will not help you or the traffic of your site. Instead, ask questions or comment with real information. Forums are discussions. A good forum reply is either a pretty pointed question or a comment about your experience with the stated subject. For example, your forum post may be “my experience with XYZ was ….” And write a couple sentences. Be prepared to follow up on your statements and answer questions about what you had previously stated.
Make sure the forum is firmly grounded in your niche. If, for example, your niche is photography you would not want to post information about photography in a farming forum. Yes I know that seems very obvious but after you go through some forums you will see people posting stuff about male enhancement in gender neutral forums and all sorts of crazy things. Stick to the topic and stay within your niche.
Some will say that RSS is a thing of the past or that it is a dead or dying syndication method. As of right now, RSS is still alive and well and runs in the background of the internet. Real Simple Syndication or RSS is an easy and quick way to promote your blog and get it out to potential followers. Many aggregators still use RSS feeds for updated information on your blog. Two websites I like (and are free) to promote my blogs are http://blogarama.com and http://pingomatic.com .
I like the exposure they both provide and the backlinks to my posts. What I like most is many of my return readers come from these two sources. Something you should keep in mind with your blog and with services like ping-o-matic, that is if you are manually pinging your blog aggregators only ping out once. Many platforms have plug-ins that will ping out for you when you publish a post but if you cannot find or your platform does not have a plug-in you can ping out manually from their site.
I have saved the best (and most important) for last
When you write your blog posts write with passion and provide useful information to your readers. The internet is loaded with blogs that are just words. That is they are just trying to fill the pages with redundant information to reach the typical word count. Although I said in the previous post that your word count for a post should be between 2250 and 2500 words, you should always choose quality over quantity. If a 1000 word post thoroughly covers the subject and all its relevant points then do not try to stretch the post, rather end it at that point.
Your readers will be able to tell if your heart is in the post or if you’re posting just to post something. I cannot tell you how many times I have read blog posts and articles that the tone itself indicated that the author was not “into” their subject. The articles were dry and lacked the necessary passion for the subject to keep the reader interested in what they had to say. Posting a post just to post something without passion and interest will kill your blog readership faster than you can ever build it, even if you do everything else right. After all who wants to be bored to tears while reading an article or post.
Finally, have fun writing and be yourself. It is very easy for a reader to pick out whether you are being sincere in your writing or not. Even if your post contains many references to other works make sure there is a significant amount of your own material to make it uniquely your own. In other words, do not plagiarize and just regurgitate the writings of one or more authors. You are uniquely you and your blog should reflect that.
I sincerely hope this two-part series aids you in your endeavors to have a successful blog. Until next time I bid you a final farewell and happy blogging.
To read the first part of this two-part post click: How to growth hack your blog and increase readership – Part 1