Promoting your blog can feel like this big, scary, intimidating thing. Does promoting a blog really even work?
Do I have to use tactics I’m not comfortable with?
Is promoting my blog going to take more time and effort than I want to spend?
Maybe you’ve been blogging for months, or even years, and it just feels like you’re never going to grow the audience you hoped for. Maybe you’ve tried to promote your blog in various ways, but nothing has worked yet, and you’re not even sure if you’re even doing things in the right way.
Here’s the thing: there’s no shortage of advice online about how to promote your blog. There’s lots of advice, and WAY too many tactics out there. Most of those tactics aren’t worth your time because they produce very little results.
You don’t need another list of 101 tactics for promoting your blog. You just need 10 that actually work, or even just 5 of them. Heck, ONE solid strategy could be enough to grow your site beyond your wildest imagination.
I know bloggers with millions of monthly visitors who put 90% of their promotional effort behind just one single strategy. What is that one magic strategy? The amazing thing is, in each case the strategy is different. These superstar bloggers just found what felt right and delivered the most results for them and then worked that single strategy over and over and over again.
So today, in this post, we’re going to focus on the tried-and-true promotional strategies that really work. We not going to waste your time on flash-in-the-pan tactics that only work for a little while. We’re going to help you understand the real keys to making each of these successful, so that even if you’ve tried them you can try them again with a fresh approach.
By the end of this guide:
Follow this guide, implement your own strategy, and watch your blog gain traction and start growing the thriving audience you’ve dreamed of.
Please note: we recorded a companion podcast episode for this guide that you’ll find at the end of this post. This post may contain more specific details than the episode, but the episode is probably more fun 🙂 For maximum effect, read this first then listen to the episode.
When we talk about promoting our blogs, we’re really talking about two different kinds of activities: individual blog post promotion and overall blog promotion. We call out this distinction because the way you use tactics from these two categories will be different.
Tactics for promoting each individual blog post will be typically used in checklist fashion, where you repeat most or all of the tactics on your checklist each time you publish a new blog post.
Overall blog post promotion tactics on the other hand, won’t be tied to individual articles. These are actions you’ll carry out separately, to consistently get the word out about you and your blog overall.
Many bloggers only focus on individual post promotion and miss out on the opportunities to promote your overall blog. We’ll cover the most effective strategies below for both of these types of promotion.
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Have you ever heard the saying “you can’t polish a turd?” Well, it’s true. You can’t polish a turd and you shouldn’t expect to make a piece of crap blog post hugely popular.
Here’s the truth about every tactic we’ll get into below: the content itself is the foundation. All the promotion you do builds on that foundation. So if your content is crap, you’re building all your promotional efforts on crap.
And the inverse is true: if your content is epic then all your promotional efforts will be more effective because more and more of the visitors are having that “holy crap!” moment with what you made.
Do you know what I mean by that? Have you ever landed on a blog post and whispered “holy crap” under your breath as you realize the article is exactly what you’ve been looking for? That’s the experience you want your content to create for visitors.
It might sound difficult to make your content epic enough to induce “holy crap” moments. But it’s not as hard as you’d think. Here’s a few tips and resources for you:
So, we’ve got killer content, really useful “holy crap this is good” kind of stuff. But in the noisy world of the internet it’s not enough for content to just be great… it has to be shareable as well.
Here’s how to make your content shareable:
A. Headlines — Every blogger needs to know that headlines are insanely important. A headline has to grab the reader’s attention enough to click on a link or to start reading your article. That’s the headline’s job. It doesn’t matter if you have the cure to cancer in the post, if your headline doesn’t do it’s job, your content isn’t going to even get the chance to make an impact. Here’s a few resources for you:
B. Publish different kinds of posts — Lists, infographics, posts with tons of images, posts where you rant and rave, posts where you call out an expert, posts where you bare it all for your audience. There are so many different shapes your content can take. Making a bit of a practice of trying some can lead you to stumble upon a content type that you love to make and your audience loves to share. Because we need to face it: some kinds of content are just way more shareable than others.
C. Publish more frequently — The more often you publish the more opportunities you have to promote individual posts. Similarly, the more often you publish the more opportunities you get to experiment with different types of content and the more chances you have at finding what we call a breakthrough blog post. These are the posts that take on a life of their own and go viral. They’re like the home runs of blogging and increasing your publishing frequency simply gives you more chances to swing the bat. Publishing more frequently is absolutely a viable option to get more shares, more traffic and more traction.
D. Use tweetables — In your content you have key concepts, important realizations and maybe some straight up quirky moments. These are the bits that make a reader laugh or nod their head or jot a note down. So, why not call those out? Identify them, make them stand out and make them easy to share. We do this on all of our articles; doesn’t take much work, makes the articles nicer to scroll through and people are sharing our articles because of them. You could use a plugin like this, or if you’re advanced enough to code your own, here’s the code we use at Fizzle.
E. Ask for shares — This one may sound a little too simple or trite, but you need to know about it and take it seriously! Within your individual blog posts, you can directly ask your audience to share your post. Now, this works really well when there’s a real and specific reason for asking, as opposed to a generic or repetitive one. For example, things that are time limited, things that promote a virtuous cause, or maybe something where there was extraordinary effort or circumstances that led to the post. The trick here, of course, is not to be desperate about it, but rather to be human, honest and realistic about it. Asking can go a long way.
F. Use images — Images are proven to make your article more shareable. One study showed Facebook posts with images are shared 2.3 times more often than those without (source). Our 10 mistakes in online business post has been really successful for us, partly because of the images we use throughout (also due to 1. excellent content, 2. great headline). Images can make such a big difference in your posts that we’ve created an entire course on making shareable images. And here’s a list of 50+ free image resources for your blog.
G. Acknowledge, mention and link to influencers — When you link to other sites or mention people by name within a blog post, there is always a chance that person or site owner will learn about the link or mention, through Google alerts or word of mouth or another notification system. This is a good way to “get on someone’s radar” and can lead to your post being referenced or shared by that person.
Showing up in search engines matters a lot. We have posts that continue to bring tens of thousands of people to our site every month and all that traffic comes from, you guessed it, search engines.
But search engine optimization can be a black hole of research, so instead I want you to think about it as a simple checklist of things to do on each post. Other people online want you to think of SEO as complicated voodoo (so you’ll buy their services or products).
In the box below I share exactly what we do for SEO at Fizzle. I think this is all you need to do if you want to build a blog that grows a thriving audience. Here’s a helpful article on search stuff for you to learn more on the items below.
We at Fizzle have never done much in terms of search engine optimization besides these bits here:
A. Share your post with your existing audience — You wrote a killer article, so share it with the people who already like you! Every time we publish a new post here at The Sparkline, we send an email to our subscribers with a snippet of the article (headline, image, first couple of sentences) with a big button to read more over on the site. Those emails are automatically generated by a Mailchimp RSS campaign. You can signup here if you want to see what it’s like. The point is: send your stuff to the people who are subscribing to your site! These are your fans, your audience, the people who will share your content if you made it insanely useful to them.
B. Share your post with social networks — Sharing your own content via social media is one way to promote your posts. The effectiveness of this approach will depend on the quality of your content, the size and engagement of your audience within the social media channel, and the relevance of your content to that audience. Note: this is where adding shareable images for your posts can work double duty because they make your post easier to read and they give you useful images to share.
C. Share your post with online communities — Online sharing communities like Reddit (with subreddits for every imaginable interest), Hacker News, Product Hunt and more can be very effective places to promote your content. However, each of these has it’s own culture and rules. Self-promotion generally doesn’t work well, unless you have established yourself within these platforms. But if you can establish yourself, get involved and be a solid member of the community, your efforts there can be hugely rewarded, bringing thousands of visitors to your site from a single link.
D. Share your post directly with relevant influencers — Simply writing an email to people who you believe might find your blog post useful can be a solid promotional tool. This is also effective when the person you email is mentioned in the blog post itself. Just be judicious in using this tactic and don’t sacrifice relationships. As a popular blogger I get countless emails a month from people trying to get me to promote their post or product. I’d say it’s 1 in 100 of those emails that actually gets through my defenses because it’s tactful in some way — either because it’s clearly tailored just to me, it’s personal or it’s something I find personally interesting. If you’re going to share with influencers, make sure they’re relevant, make sure you know them well, make sure you respect the hell out of them in your correspondence (because chances are you need them more than they need you 🙂
E. Syndicate your post on other sites and platforms — By re-publishing your content on other sites like Medium, LinkedIn, Huffington Post or specialized multi-author blogs, you can earn additional views on your post. Now, of course, the goal of this is to entice those readers back to your site so they can start a relationship with you, subscribe, fall in love with how amazing you are, etc. So, you’ll want to be smart about how you do this. Someone doing this often and finding success is James Clear (here’s an example of one of his syndicated articles).
A. Grow your email list — the most effective channel for promoting your blog posts will eventually be your email list, by far. When you publish a new post, you’ll email it to your list. This will drive tons of existing readers to your site. Some of those people will help spread the word by sharing your post elsewhere. New visitors will find your post and decide to sign up for your email list…
Simply emailing your post to your own list can kick off a chain reaction, if your list is big and engaged enough. But this doesn’t happen right away. You have to intentionally grow your email list for quite a while before it becomes such a powerful promotional tool.
If you want to grow an audience, you need to focus on growing your email list. It’s as simple as that.
We’ve written and talked about how to grow an email list on the blog and podcast extensively over the years. Here is some of our best advice:
There’s also an entire course in Fizzle called Build Your Email List: The First 10k Subscribers and Beyond. It’s 3 hours worth of video lessons on how to grow your email list, and you can take the course as part of your Fizzle free trial.
B. Grow your following on social media & communities — having a following on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other active social network can really help create awareness of you and your new blog. Some of the people who find you on social media will be curious about who you are and will follow the link in your profile back to your site, giving you an opportunity to wow them with your blog content. Plus, the bigger and more engaged your following is, the more effective your individual post promotion efforts will be.
C. Connect with other bloggers — I cannot stress enough the importance of getting to know other bloggers in your niche. Other bloggers can become an incredible source of opportunities for you to grow your audience, from social shares to links to guest posting spots and more. To meet other bloggers, we highly recommend attending in-person events for bloggers and people building websites on your topic, along with reaching out via email to get to know people. Another strategy is to interview the top influencers in your space on your site or for a podcast. Here’s a handy list of 15 Honest Ways to Meet Other Entrepreneurs.
D. Publish on other sites & platforms — this is similar to the “syndication” strategy above, but in this case you’ll write original content for other platforms, like Medium, LinkedIn, Huffington Post, etc. Building a reputation and reader base on another platform can be a great way to drive some of those readers back to your own blog.
E. Write guest articles — this is one of the most effective promotional strategies, but also a time-consuming one. The goal here is to write an article for another site that overlaps well with your target audience. You’ll also want to seek out the biggest and most engaged sites possible to write for. Some sites have clear processes for submitting guest article ideas, and others you’ll have to get creative with. For a full rundown on guest blogging tips and tricks, check out The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging from Kristi Hines and the KISSMetrics folks.
F. Participate in comments, forums and Q&A sites — there are lots of opportunities around the web to share your knowledge and interact with people by leaving comments on blogs, in forums and by answering questions on Q&A sites like Quora. This can be a solid tactic for driving awareness of your site with enough effort and by focusing on the right places to interact.
None of these tactics can help you if you don’t create a plan for putting them to use. For this, we recommend developing a personalized promotion strategy and checklist.
To create your strategy, start by answering these questions:
Once you have answered these questions, use your answers to develop 1) a checklist for promoting each new article and 2) a plan for overall blog promotion.
There you have it. This list is all you need to promote your blog effectively. Which of these tactics feel right to you? Which ones will you try? Which ones will work best?
As you review this list, be careful not to avoid the tactics that seem harder to implement. Often these can be much more effective because so few people are willing to put in the effort. If a tactic seems difficult but potentially really strong, give it a try before discounting it.
Above all, remember that your content itself is the key to making your promotional efforts pay off. All the promotion in the world won’t help if your content isn’t remarkable, shareable, entertaining and useful.
And finally, remember that popularity isn’t everything. To build true fans and a long-lasting, thriving audience, you have to focus on creating useful, engaging content that builds trust with your audience. Don’t get so hung up on playing the popularity game that you forget about the one person who matters most: your reader.
We recorded a companion podcast episode for this guide. The post above may contain more specific details, but the episode is probably more fun 🙂
Here’s the podcast. Enjoy!
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