Sitting alone, at home, in the dark, the glow of the laptop screen the only illumination, you sit back in your chair with a satisfied sigh. You’ve done it! You finally completed your epic blog post!
Your cursor hovers over the publish button, but you hesitate.
What if no one reads it? What if no one cares? All that work… All that research and planning and hours of writing… Wasted.
You clench your hand into a fist, feeling your fingernails digging into the flesh of your palm. There must be a better way! you think.
A) Give up. Publish the post but lower your expectations. There’s no way you’ll get noticed in all the noise out there.
B) Decide this time will be different. THIS TIME you’ll have a promotional plan.
If you choose B, welcome to the blog promotion adventure. It’s a jungle out here. There are blog posts that promise you hundreds of ways to promote your blog post — but which ones are right for you?
The first thing I want to say here is DON’T GET OVERWHELMED. There are a LOT of ideas in this post, but you don’t need to implement them all at once. In fact, some may not be relevant to you at all.
The goal of this Adventure is to get you thinking about your options and then make a plan. Read through the suggestions I make here, and then choose your own promotional adventure.
Choose Your Promotional Paths
I’ve identified four main promotional paths you might take to promote your blog, and the specific steps you might take to achieve each one. But each promotional journey will be different. Only you can choose your promotional adventure.
Path 1. Make Sure Your Content is Shareable
You secretly dream of having something you post go viral. But for something to go viral, it must first be shared, and many bloggers don’t make it easy for their content to be shared. For every blog post you publish, be sure you’re taking these steps:
- ASK for the share. It seems silly, but even just asking for people to share your work increases the likelihood that they will.
- Put sharing buttons in your layout to make sharing easy. There are lots of plugins to accomplish this.
- Include “tweetables” in your post. I use the plugin Click to Tweet to create little pull-quote boxes that a person can easily click and tweet out to their followers, but there are lots of similar plugins and free tools out there that accomplish the same thing.
- Include multimedia elements — ESPECIALLY in your epic posts. These days, people share things on many different social media sites, and gorgeous media will entice them to share. Make lovely images pinnable, include videos that can be shared, infographics, slide decks, worksheets, etc. Heck, put some music in there, too, if you think it will help.
- Work on your headline a little bit more. Headlines go a long way to determining what gets clicked, opened, read, and shared online. Make sure yours is a doozy.
Completed this Adventure? Go on to Path two…
Path 2. Promote to your audience.
Once you hit publish, you want to promote to your audience: those people who have liked, followed, and subscribed. These people who have already positively selected themselves as WANTING to hear from you are the ones most likely to interact with your post and share it more widely.
- Email your subscribers. Email is still the best way to reach people, so whether you have 2 subscribers or 20,000, send them an email to let them know you’ve published something new. You can also ask them to share with their friends and followers.
- Share to social media.
- Syndicate your article by posting it to sites like Medium and publishing it as a native article on LinkedIn. There may be other sites that allow syndication in your niche.
- Put a link to your latest epic post in your email signature. You can also put a click-to-tweet here.
- Thank everyone who shares. They’ll be more likely to share again.
You open a door and discover Path three…
Path 3. Outreach
Path 3 is all about outreach — reaching out to trendsetters and tastemakers who can help promote your content to their audiences.
- Email anyone you mentioned in your post. You can use this template to construct a friendly, non-demanding email to ask for a share. In fact, it is a good strategy to mention tastemakers regularly in order to use this strategy to its maximum potential.
- Tag, @ mention, etc. anyone you mentioned in your post. When you’re writing all your social media shares in the previous strategy, be sure to tag anyone you mention in the article. Many people are more likely to respond when you Tweet them than when you email them.
- Set up a Google Alert for your topic. When you do, you’ll get an email as soon as anything new is published on that topic. When you see a new article, jump over and leave a brief, relevant, and useful comment, ideally with a link back to your epic post. If you leave the comment early enough, it will drive traffic from other commenters. But it will also get you on the other expert’s radar as a contemporary.
- Monitor relevant hashtags on the social media sites you use. When you see a conversation happening, you can jump in and offer your thoughts — and your link — as an addition to the conversation.
- Pitch your topic to reporters and writers. Got a favorite writer on a big site like HuffPo, Lifehacker, or Forbes? If not, you should. Go to your favorite BIG sites, and find out who covers your topic, then follow them on Twitter. Any time you see them Tweet about your topic, you can tweet back and say something like, “Loved the article! I’ve written something that would be a nice companion.”
- Email 100 bloggers in your niche asking if they’d be interested in reading your article. IF they respond, go ahead and send them a link and ask for the share.. Whew! Sound like a lot? It is. But if you really want publicity for your epic post, this is a good way to get it.
- Reach out to influencers who are sharing similar content. True story: Here’s an email I got once:Hey Lacy, I was checking you out on Twitter and noticed that you retweeted one of my favourite articles a little while ago: [link to article].
Reading it gave me the idea of putting together a helpful resource filled with all of the tips and tricks I could think of to help people get ideas for blog posts. As such, I’ve written a post that I just published on the topic and would love your feedback: [link to article].
Might be worth a tweet or share if you think your followers would find it useful.
Either way, keep up the great tweets!
AYou too can follow this strategy. Find influencers sharing content similar to yours and then reach out.
- Subscribe to HARO and pitch the press. Help A Reporter Out sends out an email (you pick the frequency) with info requests from reporters. Browse for topics that fit your niche and pitch yourself or your blog post. You never know!
- Find bloggers in your niche who do “link roundup” type posts, and pitch your post. You can google your keywords with “roundup” or “newsletter” and see what you can come up with.
- Email your commenters. When someone leaves a positive comment on your post, send them a quick email to say thanks and ask for a share. You’d be surprised how often they are happy to do so!
Fighting your way through the jungle, you suddenly stumble on Path 4…
Path 4. Paid Promotion
I’m not going to say too much about how to do paid promotion here because it’s too big a topic to cover in this post. There are entire courses and program dedicated to Facebook ads alone! And if that’s something you want to pursue, I leave you in those experts’ capable hands.
What I will say, however, is that this is a viable option for anyone at any level. No matter how small your marketing budget, you can afford to run a few small ads. You can run a Facebook ad for as little as $ 5 and reach thousands of fans, if you set it up correctly. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, and many other social sites have ad programs you can use affordably.
Each platform will have its pros and cons. My best advice to you would be to choose ONE on which you will focus and then put in the time and effort to get it right — or hire someone to do it for you.
Paid promotion is certainly the fastest way to promote your blog and your business, but it’s also the most expensive. It’s up to you to weigh that balance.
Fight Your Battle: Creating Your Promotional Plan
So, now that you’re totally overwhelmed with all the options for promoting your work (and believe me: this is only a hand-picked selection!), I want you to take a step back and look at this from a standpoint of what you can and will do for your NEXT epic post.
Basically, I believe there are two levels of promotion: your everyday (week, whatever) sort of promotional strategy, and your EPIC POST promotion strategy.
Obviously, if you’re spending a lot of extra time and energy to create an epic post, you should spend at least an EQUAL amount of time and energy to promote it. Don’t you think?
Quick check: How much time did you spend (or are you planning to spend) creating your epic post?
So, in other words, if you spend 8 hours creating it, you should spend 8 hours promoting it. Have you ever spent that much time promoting a post? (No, neither have I!)
When I was in a slump one month, my business coach asked me how much time I was spending marketing myself. I made up a number (not having been keeping track of that sort of thing), and she told me that it’s a generally accepted rule that if you’re actively looking for new customers, you should be spending fully half your working hours marketing yourself. (In other words, if you work 8 hours a day, 4 of them should be spent on some kind of marketing work.)
This is a pretty widely held understanding, and it makes me think we should probably ALL be paying more attention to our promotion and marketing.
So, to get down to brass tacks, keep this in mind when you’re planning your promotion strategy. Remember that, while it is true that you’ve got some momentum when a post is brand new, not everything has to happen on the exact day you push publish on your post.
Now, it’s up to you to carry on the adventure. Which of the promotional strategies above will you be applying to your next epic work? Comment below with the beginning of your promotional adventure plan.