Two days back I explored the myth that all you need to do is write great content on a blog for it to get readers and introduced the idea of ‘seeding’ content rather than ‘forcing’ it upon readers.
Today I want to take the ‘seeding’ idea a step further and give a few examples of ways that you can do it – and in the process hopefully grow your readership beyond your immediate family (not that there’s anything wrong with Mom reading your blog).
I should say that while this post contains 9 ways to promote a blog post – that I rarely use all of them at once. Keep in mind that the idea of ‘seeding’ is not about forcing things but rather it is about getting things going and then letting something organic happen. You might need to put a little more effort into things somewhere along the way to keep momentum going (like ‘watering the garden’ helps a seed to grow) but the idea isn’t for force things.
So without further ado – let me share a few of the techniques that I use to ‘seed’ content:
1. Tweet it
I find that one of the most effective ways to get a link to a new blog post ‘out there’ is simply to tweet it. Tweeting a link is quick and easy to do – and if you do it well it can be quite effective at both driving direct traffic to a blog post but also in starting other little viral events on other sites.
The effectiveness of this does depend a little on the size of your follower group – but other factors you can have a little more control over include:
- timing your tweets to be during peak times when lots of people are on Twitter.
- doing a followup tweet to your original one (I only do this on important posts and usually try to change the wording so as not to annoy people too much)
- the wording of your tweet (give people a reason to click it)
- making your tweet ‘ReTweetable’ by not making it too long (I keep these seeding tweets to under 120 characters to leave room for people to retweet them).
I find that when something does well on Twitter (and not every post will) that it can often trigger a secondary event on a site like Delicious. This in turn can trigger blogs to link to my posts or other social bookmarking sites to pick up links.
2. Facebook Status Updates (and other social media)
This is of course similar to Tweeting a link. I’ve not had as much success with Facebook as a promotional tool for my blogs but know of a few bloggers in different niches who find it to be more effective. Whether it sends loads of traffic or not it can be helpful in an overall strategy.
Similarly I sometimes also use other social media sites like LinkedIn’s status update if I feel that the content I’m promoting is better suited to other audiences. Again – it depends partly upon the size of your network on these sites but even a small but relevant network on these sites can trigger other bloggers to link up or secondary organic submissions on other social sites by those in your network. You never know what impact sharing a link in these sites can have until you do it.
3. Pitch it to another Blogger
Is the post you’re promoting relevant to the audience of another blog?
This is a question I’m always asking myself as I’m writing blog posts. As I write I jot down the names of other bloggers that have an audience that might find what I’m writing helpful. This means that when it comes time to promote the blog post I have a ready made list of people to shoot out an email to to let them know about my post.
I don’t send these emails out often, nor do I send them out to the same group of bloggers repeatedly – but if I genuinely think my post is of high quality and that the blogger will find it relevant I will.
4. Pitch it to another Twitter User
This is similar to pitching another blogger but can have a great impact as well. In fact I recently had a link from a blogger who both posted on his blog and tweeted the link and the Tweet converted much better for me in terms of traffic.
The key once again is to make sure that the link is relevant to the Tweeter and the type of thing that you’ve seen them sharing on twitter with others.
5. Share a Link in a ‘Signature’
Many bloggers have links to the front page of their blogs in both email signatures and forum signatures – but what about directing people to an individual post? There are a variety of tools out there that highlight latest posts (feedburner has one) and they make a lot of sense to me because you’re sending people to standalone articles that you’ve written rather than a sometimes confusing front page of a blog.
6. Bookmark it
This is one that I don’t tend to do myself these days but I know many bloggers who do so I’ll include it. It entails submitting your post to a site like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious etc.
I don’t tend to do this any more as I find many of these sites have algorithms that penalize a site if it’s submitted by the same person over and over. What I do instead is occasionally shoot a link to another user of these sites in the hope that they’ll submit it for me. Having said this – I also find that as your traffic grows the submissions become more and more organic from regular readers so there’s less need for me personally to be involved in these types of ‘seedings’ in social bookmarkting sites.
7. Guest Posts
Another method that I’ve seen a number of bloggers using with real effect lately is to link to your important blog post in a guest post on someone else’s blog.
Most people who guest post on another blog tend to link back to the front page of their blog in the byline. This is a good general link to get but if you have an important post that you’ve written that relates to the guest post you’re writing you should find a way to incorporate a link to that post – either as the byline link or if the blogger allows it – within the blog post itself.
8. Give readers an easy way to share it
Hopefully with some of the above techniques you’ve got a few readers over to your blog – now you want them to share it with others.
There are many ways to make your blog post ‘sharable’. I tend to use a combination of templated techniques as well as a few custom ones that I add to posts once on posts that I think will do well on social media sites.
- Templated techniques – there are many ways to build social media buttons into your blog. There are heaps of tools and plugins that will do this for you. The key in my experience is not to have too many buttons/options but to choose just a few that relate well to your audience.
- Custom techniques – if I notice that one of my posts is starting to do well on Twitter or Digg or some other social media site I generally will either add an extra button to a post or add a text link pointing people to where they can tweet or digg the post. I find that these more obvious little additions to a post can often tip it over the edge to a viral traffic event.
This is a way that I often ‘tip’ posts that are doing OK over the edge into a viral traffic event. It usually works like this:
A – I write a post that I think MIGHT do well as a viral post
B – I time the publishing of that post for a Thursday morning – an update goes out via RSS to my subscribers
C – I use some of the above techniques to get the post seeded (Twitter, Facebook etc)
D – I wait until the post is submitted to Digg and then add a Digg button to the post (or some other social bookmarking site)
E – I then send out a newsletter to my list including a prominent link to the post
What I find is that without the last step (sending a newsletter) the post can do quite well – but when I send the newsletter I quite often see a ‘tipping point’ with the post and it’ll go viral on multiple social media sites at once on the back of the extra traffic that I’ve been able to send to the traffic via the newsletter.
2 Final Words of Advice
Let me finish with two words that I think are key to much of the above – persistence and relationships.
1. Persistence – There’s a real need for persistence in seeding content. Much of what I’ve described above are things that I’ve been doing for years and they’ve only become more effective the longer that I’ve done them.
My experience of finding readers is that it is all about momentum. In the early days to find just a handful of readers can be a real challenge – the above methods may not bring thousands of people through the door – however the 10 than they do bring in on your first day could lead to 100 next month which could lead to the thousands in the coming year.
You may get lucky and your seed may grow into something big in the early days of your blog – but even small results can grow slowly into big things over time. Each reader that you bring into your loyal readership is important because they have a network of their own that they could help spread word of your blog to.
2. Relationships – The other key to much of the above is to be as relational as possible. Much of the above relies upon people sharing your posts with others once you alert them to the existence of your posts. So put aside regular time to grow your network, to build a presence on sites like Twitter, to build trust and influence on other sites outside of your blog – this networking can pay off in a big way over the long term. Just do keep these other social networking sites in perspective – they’re not the main game themselves but should be used to build up your home base.