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How to Promote Your Blog Without Letting The Rest of Your Blogging Slide

Posted By Darren Rowse 4th of December 2014 General 37

Recently I shared the stories of how my two blogs grew. One (ProBlogger) had a ‘tipping point’ early on which grew traffic almost overnight and the other (Digital Photography School) had slow but steady growth over several years with no real tipping point.

There were some great comments on that post including this one from Steve:

I have seen a recent increase in traffic, but it didn’t happen by accident. I spent a good deal of time promoting my blog in various ways. I suspect your increases resulted from similar efforts.

I ran an experiment to see what would happen if I made a concerted effort to promote my blog. My readership increased, which is extremely gratifying. But it came at a cost. My marketing diverted time away from producing high quality content.

I want a lot of readers, and I want them to see my best work. I have yet to figure out how to do the marketing and still have enough time to produce my best content. Do you have any thoughts on this?

I wanted to publish Steve’s comment for a few reasons.

Firstly – I think a lot of us could learn from Steve’s observation that growing traffic to a site almost always is the result of time and effort spent intentionally trying to grow your blog.

I don’t know how Steve went about growing his traffic but there are a couple of ways I’ve seen bloggers work hard at doing it:

1. prolific networking – we’ve all seen bloggers do this. They are on every Twitter chat, commenting on many blogs, attending meetups and events, participating in forums and Facebook groups, emailing other bloggers and generally putting themselves out there many times every single day. The result is that they seem to be everywhere and are on the radar of everyone.

This approach takes MASSIVE effort!

2. guest posting – I can think of numerous bloggers (I’ll share one example later in this post) who have used strategic guest posting to grow their profile and traffic. Those who do it best write amazingly helpful content and usually appear on multiple blogs. They usually also pay a heap of attention to the comments sections on those guest posts (answering every single comment left) and social media.

Another approach that probably fits into this guest posting approach are those who put themselves out there constantly to be interviewed or to interview others. Also in this category are those who put themselves out there in speaking at events.

This approach takes a MASSIVE effort!

But it Doesn’t Stop There

The above two strategies are not the only two that can be used to grow traffic to a blog (and they are not mutually exclusive – many do both) but I think you’ll agree that they illustrate this idea that growing traffic is not a passive thing – it takes significant work.

But it doesn’t stop there… and this is the second reason I love Steve’s comment.

To grow a successful and well read blog takes a lot more than just putting yourself out there to promote your blog prolifically.

As Steve observes – it also takes time to create high quality content for your own blog.

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This is where the juggle begins because as we all know, creating great content for your blog on a regular basis takes a MASSIVE effort!

Of course the work doesn’t stop at the creation of content, there’s also serving those readers who come as a result of your promotion who are reading that content.

Many of the most successful bloggers that I’ve seen rise to prominence over the past few years also have an incredible focus upon building community with and serving the readers that they currently have.

They respond to comments on blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email etc.

This takes a MASSIVE effort!

Throw into the mix the challenge of monetising your blog, the technical challenges keeping a blog up and running can throw at you, paying attention to your blog design and the challenges of having a family, ‘real’ job, social life and staying healthy and you can see why many bloggers feel quite overwhelmed and disillusioned with blogging!

“Do you have any thoughts on this?”

Steve finished his comment with a question… one that many of us ask. What’s the answer to this massive tension that we all face?

To grow our blog’s traffic takes us away from creating content. To focus upon one thing means a ‘cost’ in another area.

I don’t have THE answer to this question but as I responded to Steve’s comment a couple of thoughts came to mind.

Firstly – Pay Attention to the Tension

It is very easy to get out of balance. Over the years I see bloggers often falling into one of two camps.

1. Focus Upon Content at the Expense of Promotion

This sometimes comes as a result of feeling too shy to put yourself out there but can also be the result of a ‘build it and they will come’ mindset and a belief that great content will attract readers.

This is a half truth.

Great content does help to attract and retain readers – but it’s a lot easier to do that if you’re ‘out there’ promoting that content in some way. This is especially true when you’re just starting out.

As your blog gets older and you do have an established readership you’ll find that they do share great content for you – but in the early days it’s you that needs to do that work!

2. Focus Upon Promotion at the Expense of Content

I’ve seen a number of bloggers lately who are ‘everywhere’ and doing an amazing job of networking, growing their profile and just generally being a fantastic contribution to their niche on social media.

The problem for them is that they do this at the expense of building their own blog. There comes a time where if you want to build a business around your blog that you need to get people engaged in what you do on your blog.

If you’re not paying attention to creating great content there and engaging the readers who come – much of your promotional effort will be wasted.

Pay attention to the tension – spot when you’re getting out of balance and adjust your approach as you do. It’s really important!

Secondly – Try a Promotional Burst Approach

It strikes me that some of the bloggers that come to mind who used guest posting to grow their blogs a few years back didn’t use the strategy indefinitely.

One of the bloggers who I marvelled at with regards to how he built his audience was Leo Babauta from Zen Habits.

Leo seemed to burst onto the blogging scene – seemingly from nowhere – back in 2006-2007. I don’t remember the first time that I came across him but I’m pretty sure it would have been in a guest post on someone else’s blog because Leo was prolific as a guest poster.

Leo would have these bursts of guest posting over a few weeks. It was almost as if every day over these weeks he’d be on a different blog (including here on ProBlogger). The result of the accumulation of all these posts must have been great traffic back to his blog.

The thing was that these bursts seemed to have quite inentional starts and ends to them. He’d be published everywhere (including publishing posts on his own blog) for a few weeks and then he’d pull right back and just focus upon his own blog.

I remember emailing him at one stage when I was going on holiday to see if he’d be interested in writing something for ProBlogger and he said no because he was just focusing upon writing for his own blog at that time. A few months later he was open to writing a guest post again.

I’ve never talked to Leo about this strategy but it strikes me that he must have worked really hard for a month or two before his burst of guest posting to either produce all those guest posts or have a backlog of posts to publish on his own blog and then he must have switched into ‘promotion mode’ and let it all loose.

The key though was that it was for a defined period before he got back to serving the readers he’d attracted.

I saw him do these bursts of promotion several times over a couple of years in which he built himself an amazing audience and real momentum. At this point he didn’t need to guest post so much (if at all) but his established audience began to promote him through word of mouth.

My Final Advice for Steve

There are a couple of things that I think we as bloggers always need to pay attention to – these being publishing regular high quality content on our blogs and looking after the readers we already have (community).

These activities are like a baseline. Take the focus off these at any point and your blog is likely to suffer fairly quickly.

Promoting a blog is something you should also have some baseline activities and rhythm around. For example sharing new content to social media (whether through automation or manually doing it) is good practice.

However I do think there are times where it’s probably well worth having a burst of concerted promotional effort to grow your blog.

Whether it be through guest posting, reaching out to mainstream media, attending/speaking at events or even paying for advertising – a burst of intentional promotional activity for a defined period can have some real benefits.

Giving it a ‘burst’ means that you’re able to plan for it and hopefully the baseline activities don’t suffer too much. Also by giving it a burst you can potentially get that ‘she’s everywhere’ effect that gets on people’s radar.

What’s Your Advice to Steve?

I’d LOVE to hear your advice for Steve on how to keep this balance between promotional activity and paying attention to the rest of your blogging right.

Over to you!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. I really like the “promotional burst” technique of Babauta’s you describe. If you can produce enough content to fill your calendar for a while in a short time, you can then spend that time in the following weeks guest posting for others.

    But I think that every blogger should spend an hour or two every day being on social media, answering to posts on other blogs, etc. That’s the very minimum, and you can do it during your downtime, like in the evening while watching TV.

    As with everything related to success, I find, consistency is key!

  2. yuor articel is very help me for up grade my blog, thank yuo…

  3. I have the same problem. I have a limited amount of time to create high-quality blog posts and any time promoting the site takes away from the time I have to create winning posts. I see that I have not updated the site since November 19th, mainly because I have been trying to drum up consulting and it has been keeping me busy. Somehow I do need to get some balance between everything, promote the site, and create new posts… I will figure it out one of these days.

  4. Thanks Darren. Very useful post.

    Building traffic to blog is not very easy. I heard about number of ways to promote blog. But, practically lot of methods fail to achieve the success.

    In this post you provide great guidance with a good motivation. Definitely this is very useful for me. thanks…

  5. As a new blogger I am currently going through this exact thought process. Currently I’m just trying to build a content base before starting any marketing efforts but the question already exists of when do I have enough content as a starting point and what should be my balance between content creation and marketing in the early stages.

  6. I am one of those that is trying to overcome the shyness of putting myself out there. I try to promote as much as I write but it never equals out in the end. It seems that there is some many avenues that you can take that you end up taking none.

    I am going to make a concerted effort to make a plan and stick to it. The idea of promotional bursts sound like it would fit right into what I am doing.

    • Hi Scott ,you are not alone in this world who struggle with this problem “Traffic”.No matter how good you write in your field,if there is not exposer of your content to right people,then you get no response.so keep trying.
      Regard
      shivam gupta

  7. Great advises, one thing thought is all of these possible if you are a one man team?

  8. Hi Darren and Steve,

    As someone who has a full-time job, + part-time freelance (2nd job), dad of three, husband, blogger… you get the drift, I can sympathise with Steve. I do find it hard to create content on my blog and promote it.

    Here is how I’ve taken some of the pain out of the process:

    1) I’ve commit to writing a blog post twice a week and marked out time in my diary when I am at my most productive & creative rhythm-wise.

    2) Use scheduling tools to promote my content like buffer so I don’t have to think about timing. I used the free social-bro account that told me when the best times to post were. You need to put this in your diary too. 15-30 minutes will help you keep putting your content out there.

    3) I guest post only when I have something I really think is useful that my audience should hear that will help elevate my thought leadership. Short-hand: save your best posts and put them on blogs with higher traffic numbers.

    4) I write follow posts to the guest post on my blog and ask the guest-post host to share if possible, or I drop a comment with a link to the follow up. If the blogger is really kind they will drop a link to the follow up post.

    5) I will selectively dip in and out of Twitter chats about twice a month. Enough to make an impact/have a presence but save time where possible. I find ideas for blog posts here all the time as the chatters always talk about pain-points.

    6) Do conferences/talks occasionally where I can find new audiences and through Q&A time generate ideas for blog posts.

    7) Not been too hard on my self when I haven’t achieved what my goal.

    I’m busy writing a ebook at the moment which has added an extra layer of busyness on-top of all of this. But I hope to have this finished in the new year…. my next goal is to build my list which I’ve been very lousy at being intentional about.

    Basically most of what you talk about can be helped by being a bit more systematic and finding a rhythm that works for you and ensuring you block it all out in your diary.

    hope that helps Steve!

    • I was just going to comment on this post when I saw your comment, Steve, so just wanted to swing in and tell you how great your comment is, and your tips are fantastic. My comment is in reference to the entrepreneurs I serve, who also have blogs, but who are creative professionals and can’t begin to devote the kind of time it would take to implement most of the tips above to promoting their blog. I’m always looking for ideas and tips to share with them to help them manage their time and find ways of keeping their content high value, fresh, consistent, and shared knowing their primary focus has to remain on their work (as writers, consultants, designers, coaches, trainers, speakers, etc.). Great tips and thank you! ~N

  9. Hi Darren

    The simple solution to Steve’s problem is to have a schedule and plan. Thats it. Plan how much time you are going to devote to each. Set your schedule accordingly. And follow it.

    One has to keep in mind that both are important. Without readers, great content is useless. And without useful content, you won’t hold any readers. Most importantly, you have to set your posting frequency at an achievable level.

    For example, I do not have more that 2 hours to spend daily on my blog. As a result, I stick to posting one USEFUL post a week, something that my readers find beneficial. That post takes me 6-7 hours, ie. 3 days. Rest of the days, I try to metwork and promote my content. That is the way I find it to work the best.

    Also when you are on a marketing spree, keep your best content stickied on the top.

    About guest posting in burst, I am not so sure. I mean, what difference would it make if one spreads the guest posting over a period of time. Even if you publish on multiple blogs, it is unlikely that a single user will find your blog posts on two or three different blogs.

    Anyways, my advice is make a balanced schedule. And when you make your schedule, allot yourself ample time to create quality posts. Otherwise its pointless.

    Regards
    Neil (Blogician.com)

  10. Darren, it took me a long time to grow Wording Well — over a year. In fact, I’m still growing it! ;)

    However, now I’m back at what seems like Square One with my new site, Laying It Out There, so Steve and I are essentially in the same boat.

    I have been doing a variety of things to grow my new site, including linking from one to the other, where appropriate, promoting it on social media, and leaving my new url in the field for “website” whenever I leave a comment on someone else’s blog post.

    In a way, I could some of Steve’s advice, to try to take some short-cut to increase my readership on this new site. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules, but I think one of the best ways to promote a site is by word-of-mouth, by getting others to rave about what a great site it is.

    Naturally, having stellar content helps, as does building relationships with other bloggers.

    In fact, the building of these relationships is key. Ask anyone who’s been blogging for years.

    Ryan Biddulph, Adrienne Smith, Harleena Singh, Carol Amato and Greg Narayan are a few of my friends who come to mind who’ll say the same thing.

    It is these strong relationships that will create buzz in your blogging world. I’m sure you know this already, though. If you can get your blog in front of the audience of a bunch of different bloggers at the same time — like through a blogging blast — then your name will become known… eventually… by many!

    My advice for Steve, therefore, is to plan, plan, plan, and then execute, execute, execute.

    I think I’m going to have to follow my own advice, too! ;)

    Thank you for raising the awareness of your readers’ issues by getting them to comtemplate Steve’s situation, and, by extension, their own.

    Pretty clever!

  11. Writing in-depth posts takes time. Of course it’s possible to write quick opinion pieces, ‘ask the reader’ posts, or list posts. But substantial posts need time to develop. And it is in-depth posts that make your blog grow or get you big guest post gigs.

    That’s why I find it difficult to keep a balance between focusing on writing for my blogs, writing guest posts and being active on social media or forums.

    I’ve now come up with a new Blogger Outreach Plan: I’ve pinpointed a selection of places where I want to be active in a weekly rhythm.

    I’m setting a certain amount of time aside each week for my Outreach work. This means working on guest posts, commenting on a couple of forums, as well as on 3 particular FB pages, and on a handful of blogs.
    I tick each action on a spreadsheet to keep myself stay on track.

    It’s a ‘have your cake and eat it’ approach :-)

  12. Burst approach seems to be good. I have been a fan of Zen Habits too, lots of nice articles. One think I never thought was he did some guest posting. I always used to think that he got popular only because of his consistency and good article. Heck, I never thought he did any SEO at all.

    What I would love to hear is some success stories behind other bloggers too.

  13. Hello Darren sir, I am a big fan of your blogs and it really motivates me and drive me to the right way.thanks for all things you have done for me.
    Regard
    shivam gupta

  14. This is one of the most important aspects of succeeding as a blogger. There is just not enough emphasis of this out there. Finding the balance between promotion and content creation can be tricky too.
    I agree that networking is key. Guest posting is another great tactic, but it is very time consuming. I do recommend it too.
    I do believe that the ratio should be about 30 percent creation and 70 percent promotion.

  15. I appreciate the advice to Darren and will use it for myself. I am still growing my audience and found it can take away time from creating content. Unfortunately, I am not to a point where I can guest blog yet, so that method for growth is limited.

  16. I think it’s a very difficult balance to maintain. I’m a writer, and I started my blog following advice on how to get readers. I’ve come to love the blog as I’ve met many interesting people and skilled creators (writer, photographers, artist, cookery experts…) through it. But like with writing, it’s difficult to keep the balance between just writing and trying to promote. You have to write, otherwise you’re not a writer, but if nobody is aware of your books…You have to have time to write your blogs but if you don’t interact with other bloggers and take an interest…I think I’ve tried both of the first suggestions, interacting and also doing guest posts and interviews. They both work and required effort. I also tend to do posts where I share the love with other bloggers and promote the blogs I’ve found more interesting, and more interactive. It’s a way to give something back too. I like the idea of the bursts of blogging. I’ve seen it work for writing (I’ve just completed NaNoWriMo) so I’ll give it a thought. There are also teams of bloggers or places like Networked blogs, BlogLoving or Triberr, that makes sharing content slightly easier…

  17. Hi Darren.

    I can SO feel Steve’s frustration, because I’m living it right now, alongside many other bloggers I imagine.

    After a recent re-brand of my business, finding time to service clients, create content, build and nurture those all important relationships, and all the other good stuff involved in maintaining and growing a blog…

    Finding a balance is proving to be one heck of a challenge, and totally overwhelming too. :)

    Creating content isn’t one of my stronger points anyway, so I have to put in double the effort, compared to someone who is a natural writer…

    So right now, the only solution I can think of, that will enable me to get ALL of this done, without any specific task taking a back seat, is to break everything down into micro tasks and start working in time blocks.

    Yes, it’s going to take longer to complete any given task and/or project this way, but surely, small, consistent actions are better than taking no action at all becuase we are suffering from analysis paralysis.

    That’s the advice I’d give Steve right now. :)

    Thanks for publishing this post Darren. Your timing was perfect. Definitely sharing this one on Twitter with my blogging buddies. I know many others will relate to this article also.

    Enjoy the rest of your day.
    Kerry

  18. Thanks Darren to share this awesome post, I was searching for a while how to promote post. This post will definitely help me. Many blogger says write less and pramot more but you are the only who give the deep idea for post promoting.

  19. Growing a successful blog takes time and a lot of work. In the beginning you really have to get yourself out there and network with as many people of you can. You got to be ACTIVE these days because being passive (throwing a few posts on your blog and hoping someone will start sharing them around or Google starts sending you hundreds of people per day like it was 2006) isn’t going to cut it.

    Outreach is very important in the beginning because you can’t do everything yourself (you could but it takes a lot more time to get your “name” out there). Getting the help from a few other bloggers in your niche can speed up the whole process. I’m thinking about guest posting, mentions about you on other blogger’s social media sites, backlinks, etc.

  20. Suzanne Carvell says: 12/06/2014 at 10:01 am

    Great post! Very useful advice.
    Just wanted to point out a small typo (that’s what I do!)

    “The thing was these bursts seemed to have quite inentional starts … “

  21. Steve’s dilemma is one I face also. There’s only so many hours in a day and both quality content and marketing are very important. The only good solutions I can think of are either outsourcing or careful time-management.

  22. In this post you provide great guidance with a good motivation. Definitely this is very useful for me. thanks sharing.

  23. Thx Darren !
    I have a problem with my new blog quriouslearner.blogspot.com. Being new to blog discipline ,it am unable to grow much traffic to my blog.Can you just have a look at my blog and figure out the root problems.Hope you will address it and inform me about improvisation.Once again Thankyou so much for helpful info.

  24. Very informative and well written blog, just great. Thanks for sharing.

  25. As an issue blogger I am presently experiencing this careful perspective. As of now I’m simply attempting to manufacture a substance base before beginning any promoting endeavors yet the inquiry exists of when do I have enough substance as an issue point and what ought to be my harmony between substance creation and showcasing in the early stages.

  26. Thanks for the informative post. I’ve been struggling to get traffic. comments were helpful too, Thanks all. :)

  27. Hii Darren Rowse
    I am regular visited on your blog which i get many kind of information to here
    I really inspire to you and your work
    Good job ….

  28. Building relationships on social media is an A+ for any webpreneur who goes the extra mile in doing so. It is the virtual life + blood to online businesses in doing so.

  29. Thanks for this post. Just advice will be very useful. Thanks again

  30. I just love this blog.Every time I visited this blog got something new to learn.Thank you.

  31. thanks for this information

  32. This post is really very useful for those who wants to increase the quality of their blogs. Very simple and effective way you define the process. Really very impressive.

  33. Great blog, what would be your top tip coming into 2015 for driving traffic to the blog?

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