Promoting Your New Blog EffectivelyNick Throlson
You’ve decided you want to share something with the world and you’re now the proud owner of a WordPress site with your name on it. It was easy enough to set up the blog, and you enjoy adding articles you’ve written and photos you’ve taken. You think your blog looks great, but as far as you can see no-one else even knows it exists. If you set it up simply for your amusement or family and friends, this won’t worry you too much. However, if you’re hoping for a wider audience, why isn’t your blog getting noticed, and what can you do to spread the word?
The importance of having a plan
Your blog may be more of a hobby than a business as far as you’re concerned, but if you want to reach more people you need to have a plan in place that outlines what you hope to achieve, who you want to be reading the blog and how far you want to go with it. Blogs can be simple online journals that you post to a couple of times a week, taking very little time to maintain. Or they can have millions of visitors and subscribers, all eager for new content and end up taking you several hours a day to maintain. You need to decide what you want from your blog, at least for the foreseeable future. If you have a full-time job and a family, you aren’t going to have a lot of spare time to keep your blog updated, and the worst thing you can do is neglect it. If you don’t keep posting new and interesting content, people will rapidly lose interest. There are too many other blogs that cover the same topics and keep their content updated, so no-one is going to hang around if you take your eye off the ball. Work out how much time you have available and schedule it into your week, making sure it becomes part of your routine. You can then monitor how things are going, how well you’re keeping up and whether you want to do more.
Your blog needs to have a focus, and state clearly who is likely to be interested in it. Have an “about me” section that tells visitors who you are, what you do and why you’ve set up the blog. It is the best way of getting people who identify with the sort of person you are to sign up. Your landing page should show clearly what type of blog it is and the kind of content you post. This isn’t a flashy commercial website, and your personality will be one of the chief selling factors. One word of warning though, while it’s fine to be as open and honest about your feelings and thoughts as you are comfortable with, make sure that no-one can trace where you live or identify your kids. As well as the millions of wonderful people in the world, there are a handful of disturbed and malicious individuals who enjoy trolling and being abusive. Make sure they can’t spoil the enjoyment you get from your blog.
Like creating a plan, the thought of marketing your blog may seem a bit over the top, more relevant to businesses and organizations than an online journal. Again, it’s a question of how far you want to go – how many people you’d like to read the blog, any ambitions to turn it into a commercial enterprise in the future, the importance of your message and how passionately you feel about it. There are some simple, cheap actions you can take to boost your profile and start getting your blog noticed:
- Think about what makes your blog stand out from the others that cover the same subject. Having a very specific niche is one way of standing out because the less potential hits there are for a topic, the further up the rankings your site will appear. Of course, this means fewer people will be looking for something on this topic in the first place, but if you are aiming to appeal to a very specific audience, you’d probably be perfectly happy about this.
- Have social media accounts set up that link on your blog? It needn’t take up too much extra time because you can use a social media manager such as Hootsuite to distribute all your posts for you and manage the accounts. There are some free social media management software options available for light users, so it’s worth having a look and seeing what package will work best for you.
- Let as many people know as possible, throughout all your networks, family and friends, other social contacts and as long as it’s acceptable for you to do so, at work. Tell everyone you can, and ask them to spread the word. It’s surprising how quickly a few shares on Facebook can snowball, so don’t underestimate the effectiveness of this approach.
- Use links on your blog to set up connections with other sites, and request that the sites you make contact with feature a link from their site to yours. Links are one of the factors used by search engines to identify which sites should rise to the top of the search results list, so having good quality links is an important part of your marketing strategy.
- Get some assistance with the trickier aspects of search engine optimization. The complexities of the algorithms used by search engines to boost your blog up the rankings are not something that needs to keep you up at night. There are many options available from specialist companies that are experts in helping you you’re your SEO. They can sort out the techy stuff like contextual SEO link-building. If you’re wondering what on earth that is, you can learn more by reading up on the basics of SEO.
Deciding what you want to achieve with your blog, and what you want to devote to it in terms of time and money are the keys to planning a successful promotional strategy. Don’t be too ambitious at the start, and build your online presence slowly and steadily, so that you can keep up with maintaining the site and enjoy the process.