In the great big world of online blogging, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. When I began my blogging adventure 7 years ago, I kept my site private for a few reasons. My main reason? It was only going to be a hobby and I had no expectations. I wasn’t looking for monetary compensation and I wasn’t looking for publicity. I just loved to write and wanted a new outlet.
I quickly learned that there’s a difference between writing online and managing a blog. When anyone drafts their first blog post, there’s an instantaneous feeling of gratification when that “PUBLISH” button is tapped. There’s also a huge thrill when you discover the Stats section on your management page. It was surprising to me that total strangers were reading my material, yet it was a secret delight to see some web traffic.
Stats, however, are a double-edged sword: they bring immediate reward, but they also leave you craving more. I had 10 views today, maybe I can get more tomorrow? What can I write about that will really generate some big traffic? What’s the optimal time to post? A slew of questions start rolling through your head, and pretty soon you begin looking at publicity tips and tricks. Early on, I received these sage pieces of advice from blogging colleagues:
- Go to the main page of WordPress and read the feature articles. Comment on them. If you comment, the original author may decide to take a peak at your blog.
- Reblog. Doing publicity for others may generate publicity for you. Plus, you develop blogging relationships.
- Reshare. Use your Facebook account to your advantage.
A lot has changed in 5 years. Now, the most effective tool to expand your blog’s presence is social media. And, as it turns out, you should be spending most of your time promoting your site.
“Create content 20% of the time. Spend the other 80% of the time promoting what you created.”—Derek Halpern, Social Triggers
With the limited experience I have, I’d like to share some of the expansion tools I’ve utilized to expand my digital presence, with the hope that it will help some beginning bloggers. Be warned: once you go down the rabbit hole, it’s hard to get out. It’s tempting to join every site recommended to you. And, quite honestly, you can end up with 20 different media sites in your Favorites folder in just under 20 minutes. The key is to select tools that you are comfortable with and create powerful posts with brevity and punch. Here are a few ways to do that!
An easy way to generate more site traffic is to merge your blog with a Facebook Page. If you want to keep your personal profile separate from your blog, this is a great option. I interact with the most people on a daily basis through Facebook. It’s my main outlet to share new blog posts because I know the people I’m interacting with.
I established a site-specific Facebook page for my blog here. I try to keep all status updates concurrent with new blog posts, but sometimes I like to share a funny video or article. Time and time again, I’ve invited friends to “like” my page. Once they click on the Like button, they’re automatically subscribed to all updates. Sometimes, they’ll even share your content with their friends, and so on, and so on.
Good to know: When sharing new blog posts with this service, be sure to write an appealing description of your actual post that will make people want to leave Facebook to read it. I’ve generated a good amount of traffic on my Facebook page, but I find that people are often only “Liking” my posts and not continuing to the actual article. See below for an example:
I must confess: I still feel like a Twitter newbie. My main media platform is Facebook, so my Twitter account has mostly remained dormant since its inception. However, when my blog went live again, I had to resurrect it like a phoenix from the ashes.
Like Facebook Pages, I use Twitter to share new blog posts. In fact, whenever I publish a new blog post, WordPress automatically shares these articles with Facebook and Twitter. It’s an effective and concise way to produce immediate content.
I never realized how many of my friends regularly check Twitter. It’s so easy to retweet or favorite something. While you’re sharing your own content, you should also be sharing applicable content as well. If you provide videos/links/photos that are eye-catching, you may wind up with a bit of traffic to your profile page. As you can see above, I’ve customized my profile to showcase my blog and other sites I write for.
You want your Twitter followers to trust that you’ll consistently turn out interesting content, whether original or shared. If you retweet every link you see, chances are that you’ll exhaust your audience and they will stop caring about important posts. It’s very easy to friend 100+ bloggers and try to share all of their posts, but consider this: if a friend constantly shares your Facebook statuses, without much explanation or fanfare, are you really benefiting from the quantity of shares? Not exactly.
There is the option of creating a Twitter List. This is helpful when you are using your personal Twitter handle instead of a blog-branded account. You can keep your interests in separate lists. (Side note: I wish these lists would remove them from your main News Feed so you could really personalize your viewing experience).
Good to know: Don’t underestimate the power of celebrity. Some of the most highly retweeted items are found in official celebrity accounts. Don’t be afraid to retweet (and comment!) on these items.
3.) Google+ Communities
Google+ is the tool you never knew you needed. No, seriously…I never gave it a second glance after it forced me to make an account several years ago. I thought of it as a glorified Facebook, but with more chutes and ladders. Boy, was I wrong.
While reading an article yesterday, I was advised to utilized Google+ in ways I had never heard of. I browsed over to the Communities tab and instantly found several groups devoted to blogging. These communities boast memberships of 1,200-430,000 people. So, even if 5 or 6 people click on a post you share, that’s still 5 or 6 hits your blog is pulling in from a new source.
Yesterday alone, I counted 30 new visitors to my site from Google+. 30 complete strangers. This may not seem like a lot of people in the grand scheme of things, but to a small start-up blog, it means a lot. I can’t say enough about this new avenue. I’m excited to learn more about it.
Good to know: Some Communities have set rules (i.e. don’t post more than twice per hour, only post specific content), so please read up on each group’s policies before you get yourself removed!
I’ve just spent the past 20 minutes on Medium, a new blog publishing platform. It allows you to share previously published content and interact with other bloggers who have similar interests as you.
Like Twitter, you can follow Medium users and search for topic-specific posts. You can recommend articles with a brief Twitter-length reply. You can create new posts or choose to showcase previous work. I’ve seen more and more websites linking to Medium profiles, so I’m curious to see if this service picks up steam. Its just another way to share your content over a different platform.
5.) Freshly Pressed
WordPress is famous for its Freshly Pressed articles. These are blog posts that wind up on high-traffic front page that garners a lot of attention. I’ve heard tell of sites gathering 2,000+ views in one day from being featured on the Freshly Pressed page. I’ve never had the honor, but there’s still something to gain by reading these articles.
The more you engage in thoughtful interaction, the more likely you are to attract thoughtful interaction. If you read and comment on these articles, you may gain a follower or ten.
Good to know: Please, please, please…do NOT post on these articles only to end your brief comment with “PLEASE READ MY BLOG!” There is no quicker way to ensure that the author will skip over your contribution (and possibly send it to the trash bin in the process). Attract through articulate statements, not cap locks.
6.) Guest Blogging/Freelancing
Around the time I reopened my blog, I also applied to be a freelance writer for a humor blog, The Daily Heckle. This was the result of a Google search (“paid writing jobs”) that redirected me to several humor websites. There was an initial submission process, but within 2 days, I was writing articles for TDH on a case-by-case basis.
Why is this a good idea? For starters, you’re writing…all the time. You’re writing on topics you aren’t necessarily familiar with. When you’re stumped for an idea on your own blog, maybe you’ll snag a gig elsewhere.
You’ll also expand your fanbase if you can get a few readers to click on your profile (and hopefully, your own blog). You can share articles published on your own website, as long as it doesn’t showcase the entire article (articles become property of the blog it’s published on).
Good to know: It often pays. TDH reimburses writers $10-$30 per article, which may not seem like a lot, but when it’s only a hobby, it’s very fulfilling.
7.)Canva & Buffer
I began to notice something about successful blogs: they often use dynamic images to promote their posts. I’m not just talking about a stock photo here and there. They create personalized pictures specific to every new blog post.
When you share a post nowadays, you often just insert a URL and the site does the rest for you. It finds an image attached to the post, and voila…it’s ready to share. I was less-than-impressed when I saw my shared posts and the weak images I had attached to them. The pictures said nothing about the gist of my posts.
I discovered two great image creation resources: Canva and Buffer. Both of these websites allow you to select/upload images and create a title card for your post (see image above). You can add the name of your post, a by-line, and anything else you may find useful. It makes your posts a little more eye-catching and easy to find.
Good to know: Both sites offer free images, but they also offer paid images. Be careful when plotting out your next blog post that you don’t rack up a bill and have to start all over again.
8.) Vine, Youtube & Instagram
There was a time I preferred Instagram over Facebook, but that time was short lived. It seemed redundant: why share photos over more than one platform, especially if they were being reshared automatically?
To be honest, I have not invested a lot of time in video/photo services since restarting my blog, but I can see the appeal. Media content is a sure-fire way to generate traffic, but it does take a considerable amount of time to do it well. Instagram is the easiest option. You share a picture, you’re done. Pictures do say 1,000 words, so make them talkative pictures!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching my fair share of Vines over the past year. I’m always impressed with the people who can really make me laugh in just under 6 seconds. I also love how narrative some Vines can be. If you really want to create a loopable Vine, you’re going to need some forethought. You have to almost write a mini-script. But with the amount of people who utilize this software, I’m definitely going to give it a second chance.
And, of course, there’s YouTube. I have a channel, but have really only used it to share work-related videos. I have never felt comfortable putting myself out there on YouTube, but now may be the time to consider it. The job title “YouTuber” is now mainstream, with accounts boasting 1,000,000+ viewers. With those kind of numbers, there’s gotta be something to it.
Good to know: Most sharable blog buttons will include Instagram and YouTube accounts.
Are you planning to use any of these resources? Do you know of any other tools I may have missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!