This guest post is by Jennifer Michelle of Jennifer Michelle Communications.
Online marketing is a great way to grow your blog—but it’s not the only way. Traditional marketing methods can also be used to promote your blog and develop your readership. Here are seven ideas to get you started.
1. Get in the press
In the world of professional blogging, so much emphasis is placed on guest posting that it can be easy to overlook its predecessor—traditional media.
Yes, you can reach a large audience with a well-placed guest post, but you can do the same with an article in your local newspaper. Call the editor and offer to write an article for them, in exchange for a mention of your website in your byline.
“But wait,” I can hear you saying, “if they read me in the paper they won’t be able to click and visit my site.” That’s right, but they can type it into their smartphone or look you up when they get to the office.
Instant clickability isn’t always the goal—strive for memorability, instead.
When you write a solid piece for the press, you are instantly perceived as an expert. If your article is any good (and your blogging experience gives you the writing ability to ensure that it will be), people will remember it—and they’ll keep you in mind.
Media isn’t just print, though. Not by a long shot. Try radio. There are thousands of talk shows out there in the offline world. Research them. Search on talk radio shows in your topic area and pitch yourself as a guest. Do the same with magazines and television—offer your services as a source, an author, or a guest to be interviewed.
This is, in fact, the tactic I employed when starting my latest blog, Jennifer Michelle Communications. I contacted my state newspaper to pitch the topic, “Websites on a Shoestring,” and spoke with the business editor. He suggested I send him an article to review. That piece will be appearing in print next month.
I had similar success with talk radio. Using my years of blogging to craft a great headline, I made a quick ad on my topic and emailed it to several talk radio show producers. The ad consisted of a headline, a bulleted list of tantalizingly-written talking points, my credentials, and contact information.
The result? Biz Talk with Josh, a CBS station in the Washington, DC region, contacted me to have me as back up for a guest that seemed poised to do a no-show. When, as it turned out, they didn’t need me, they rescheduled me for July.
That kind of thing happens a lot when you’re working with the media, so always tell producers and reporters that they can call you at the last minute.
2. Teach a class
I know you’re used to thinking in terms of webinars, but I mean an actual class.
Take a minute to review your most popular posts. The odds are they could convert easily into intriguing class topics. Or consider your subject as a whole and teach a class relating to that. Sensual University does this with yoga and dance classes. Her message is all about the beauty and sensuality of life (a huge and varied subject in itself), but it’s through her yoga and dance classes that she pulls in new readers. When her students discover her unique, sensual approach to movement, they are eager to find out more.
The trick is to find the right venue for your topic—and your schedule. Ask yourself, are you able to teach a ten-week course or are you looking to do a one-off? Do you want to give a half-day seminar or are you thinking you’ll only need an hour? Community colleges are frequently looking for new classes, so if you’re up for a longer time commitment, give them a call.
Just want to teach for an hour or two? Then see who offers workshops in your area. Libraries are a great place to start, as they often have lecture series. Or try the Rotary club and get on their calendar.
Depending on your niche, there may be quite a lot of possibilities. For instance, if you blog on cooking, you may be able to teach a class at the local health food store.
Whatever you do, give your students print-outs of one or two of your most relevant posts—and be sure it gives your website and contact information.
3. Give an award
There’s nothing like staging an event to attract attention. Better still, when the event is an award that you are presenting, you are instantly considered an authority in your field.
There are lots of ways to go about this. You can take nominations or simply name a winner. You can announce it with a press release, or throw a big bash.
You want the award to represent your brand—ideally, it will become an annual event—so choose wisely. Make it something with broad appeal in your niche, yet something that’s intriguing enough to attract some attention.
Cupcakes Take the Cake has launched a new award this year honoring the best professional and amateur cupcake bakers. They even have a category for best cupcake video! What could be more fun than that?
The press possibilities are endless—just think of how many local newspapers will be thrilled to print that one of their local bakers won Best Cupcake Baker in their city! Every time they mention the award, they’ll mention who presented it—and that spreads the word about your blog.
4. Hand out your business card
It’s amazing how often bloggers will overlook the need for business cards, especially if their topic has limited relevance in their locale.
The thing to remember, though, is that you never know who you are going to meet—and you never know who they will know.
There’s also just something about having your business card in hand that makes you suddenly see thousands of opportunities for telling people about your blog.
When you design your card, be sure to include your logo, tagline, and all your contact information. For more, see this article about what to put on a blogger business card.
And if you want some great examples, check out MomComm’s blogger business card showcase.
Attend a conference for pro bloggers
Sometimes your online and offline worlds converge beautifully—and never moreso than at a conference dedicated to the needs of professional bloggers.
Email isn’t the only way to get a gig guest posting on your favorite blog. How about raising the possibility over drinks at a cocktail party? Or what about going out to lunch with your favorite bloggers and brainstorming ways you could work together?
Just because the end goal is an online event doesn’t mean offline marketing strategies aren’t the best way to get you there.
That’s what blogger conventions are all about—forging networks and creating partnerships (not to mention making some great friends).
Your goal offline should be the same as your goal online: to be as helpful and useful as possible in whatever partnership idea you propose. Help your fellow bloggers get where they want to go and they’ll be sure to remember you—and want to work with you again.
While you’re networking, be careful not to focus too heavily on the most famous bloggers in your niche. Partnering with mid-level bloggers is not to be ignored—they have devoted subscriber lists, too.
General blogging events aren’t the only way to go, either, so spend some time searching for events targeting bloggers in your niche, like this Wine Bloggers Conference.
6. Attend a conference that’s not targeted to bloggers
If you want to find your readers, niche conferences are the place to look.
They are also an amazing source for new ideas. A couple of days talking with your target demographic and you’ll walk away with a list of new blog posts you can’t wait t to write and a bunch of new product ideas you want to get cracking on. You’ll also be exposed to the latest trends in your field—and get to see firsthand people’s responses to them.
These conferences are filled with workshops and speakers, all of whom are potential partners. There is also, needless to say, the possibility of you being one of the presenters. That’s what Jesse Friedman of Beer & Nosh did at the Craft Brewers Conference.
Since organizers need months to pull these events together, make a point of meeting with them and get on their radar for next year.
7. Donate prizes
People who put on events are always on the hunt for door prizes, enclosures for gift bags, and donations for silent auctions.
When targeted to the right event, these contributions have great marketing reach. Every person at the event will see the door prize and receive the gift bag. If it’s a silent auction, everyone there will walk by each item on display.
Moreover, as a prize contributor, you will be listed in the program and the website, and may even be mentioned in event press releases.
This is a technique I’ve used numerous times to promote PoleSkivvies, the niche sports apparel brand I launched with only a blog and a newsletter. I’ve donated prizes to pole fitness championships from New York to New Zealand and I’ve even donated beyond my immediate niche, giving prizes to silent auctions that were fundraising for other dance styles.
One word of caution: I wouldn’t count on the prize winner becoming a devoted reader or customer. They will surely enjoy their prize, but the impact from this marketing tactic has more to do with brand recognition. You want people to know you’re out there.
That means it’s important to put some thought into what you donate. A copy of your ebook, a consulting package, or a video course are all possibilities. Look over your product list and see what would be the most intriguing.
However, don’t donate something you give away free on your website. Event organizers like to list the value of prizes to increase people’s excitement about winning, so get in the spirit and donate something meaningful.
If you can, attend the event. There’s nothing like mentioning you donated the door prize to strike up a conversation and get people talking about you and your blog.
An easy way to get people you meet in the offline world to visit your blog is to put a QR code on everything you pass out. From copies of your blog posts to business cards, include a QR code to some of your most popular posts or product pages, as well as your URL.
Smartphones are everywhere these days, and most of them have apps for reading QR codes—make use of them.
Have you tried offline promotions?
Running a professional blog doesn’t mean you should forget about time-honored methods of traditional marketing. Incorporate them into your overall strategy and your blog will be the stronger for it.
Have you promoted your blog offline? Tell us how it went in the comments!
Jennifer Michelle built a niche sportswear company from the ground up using just a blog and a newsletter. She now helps small business owners bridge the gap between their own online and offline marketing. Check out her tips on 21 Ways to Market Your Blog Offline.