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How to Promote a Blog

If there’s a question that I get asked more than any other it’s about how to promote a blog.

Here’s some of the most popular posts that I’ve written on the topic of promoting blogs:

How To Drive Traffic to Your Blog – The Advice of a 12 Year Old

DavidpressRemember 12 year old blogger David Wilkinson from Techzi? David and I have kept in touch with one another since I posted about him last and recently I asked him to consider writing a guest post here at ProBlogger. I thought a 12 year old’s perspective on how to get traffic to your blog might be worth hearing. Here’s his post.

When Darren Rowse comes up to you, and asks you to write a post for ProBlogger.net, it’s not something you can really say ‘no’ to. Not that you’d want to of course, but more the fact that it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. Why should I write, of all people though? Well Darren wanted to hear the methods that I as a young person use to drive traffic to my blog, without spending any money.

Learning the basics

First you need to grasp and understand that the Internet is a big place. Several billion web-pages, and often with very little time available to the end-user, they’ll use several techniques to find what they’re looking for.

SEO

Search? Standard engines like Google, Yahoo and Live are the most popular nowadays, and optimizing your site to be found easily, can be easy and hard based on many factors.

My best advice for someone starting out would be to start by building quality content for somebody to see, then progressing to “The Three Cs”. This way, you’ll get noticed by genuinely interested people, who’ll actively want to play a part in your site’s development, by giving you quality feedback on ways to improve, design and usability.

If you have a blog or a website that’s been going for several weeks, perhaps a month or two, and you’ve done “The Three Cs”, or at least some of them, would be to start focusing on building on your existing content, with fresh, interesting, relevant and unique content. Note I say ‘relevant’ and ‘unique’. This is important. There are so many splogs out there now-a-days, that people can quickly distinguish whether an article has been written by somebody or not, at least the majority of the time. Relevance too, like I said, is a key factor. If you have a very personal blog, then one day write something completely off-topic about a new type of golf club that comes out, people will start to wonder if you and your blog actually have an aim or a purpose, which is yet another vital thing to consider.

If you’re somebody with a very mature blog, that is several months or more old, you can now focus on the technical side of things, which is mainly down to the spiders. If you’ve been blogging this long, then if you’re not on your own domain, or hosting, I recommend it, as it allows for greater flexibility, design and SEO. Search engine optimization? Yep! A Google Sitemap can be stuck on your server for the Google-Bot and metatags can be added, which let you pre-define information about your page automatically, such as the author, a description, keywords and feed information. This also makes usability easier for feed-ready browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer 7. Tacky pre-set designs become a thing of the past too, and upgrading to WordPress can be a smart move, as the developer community there will help you along the way with every aspect of your blog, from the writing itself, to the advanced functionality like widgets that are available, and the themes that are freely downloadable to customize your blog’s look. Of course you could always give design a go yourself as I did at Techzi.net – though admittedly I enlisted the help of two professional designers as well.So, what are these ‘C’s that I’ve been talking to you so much about anyway? Read on to find out…

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23 Ideas for Finding New Readers for Your Blog

Over the weekend I ran an ‘open mike’ discussion which asked the question of How do you find Readers for Your Blog?

There were quite a few responses to the question – some of which went a little unnoticed as they were moderated until I got home. So I thought I’d summarize some of the main themes that arose in the discussion with a few quotes from those who left comments.

For the full series of comments see the post – but here are the main themes listed in no particular order except that they are vaguely the order that people submitted them in (keep in mind that these ideas come from readers – not all of them will be for everyone):

1. Comment on Related Blogsraising4boys writes – “Commenting on related blogs is probably the most effective strategy early on in the process. And responding to comments when people leave them on your blog (this encourages them to keep coming back).” And from Brody – “I visit other blogs in my niche, add them to my feed and participate in the discussion on their blogs via the comments. Writing interesting comments often gets people to click through to see your site.”

2. Join Forumselprezidente writes – “I’ve found that one very quick way to infuse readers to a new blog is to be active in discussion forums related to your blog topic. Locate posts that ask for help with something you are familiar with and share your experience.”

3. Write Effective Post TitlesAziz writes – “Simple and to the point. The title should create an instant urge to read the entire post… But of course it should be related to the topic of your blog”

4. InterviewsOllie writes – “One example being to interview fellow bloggers who are in the same niche as me. This has gone down well, and has been great for both myself and the interviewee as traffic flows between us.”

5. PersistDan Norman writes – “Persistence is key. After starting up a new blog last month and letting go of another this month, I notice that traffic (quality traffic) doesn’t happen over night. On my last site, I think it took 6 months before ASK.com found me.”

6. Connect with Local BloggersRob O writes – “The other thing I’ve been doing just recently is connecting up with other bloggers in my city and the neighboring towns. We’ve got something of a link exchange going and a nice side-effect to this is that I/we have discovered that there are quite a few more bloggers and/or website authors in the area than ever expected.”

7. Give Away Free StuffPeterandrej writes – “I’ve had some success with giving away free stuff, like free templates for WordPress. It doesn’t give me lot of new readers, because my blog is written in Norwegian, but the templates give lots and lots of new links to the blog, giving it a much better pagerank in Google, which in turn should mean more readers from search-engines.”

8. Be OpinionatedTrent writes – “Be opinionated, but encourage opposing viewpoints in the comments. Opinionated makes you interesting – encouraging other perspectives makes you essential.”

9. Ask Questions of Other BloggersTrent also writes – “Ask questions of other moderately successful bloggers and try to network. If you shoot too high, you’ll often get blown off because these people have so much stuff to read and deal with.”

10. Use TrackbacksMaki writes – “Sending highly creative and penetrating trackbacks about a blogger’s original post.”

11. AdvertiseMike Panic writes – “Buy advertising space on related websites.”

12. Educate Readers about RSS - Mike Panic writes – “With the most recent blog I launched I created a page in WordPress called Feeds which not only has the RSS icon on it but a description of what a “feed” is and what are some of the most common ways to subscribe and use feeds, mostly pulled from a CC article.”

13. Offline Promotion - Mike Panic writes – “Talk to friends, family and coworkers about them… you’d be surprised how much the traditional way of “networking” really does work…. also Business cards, depending which blog I’ll post on a community board at a grocery store.

14. Search Engine OptimizationMichelle writes – “Properly optimizing my blog has been a big boost to my readership. Once I figured out how to play around with SEO I started getting a regular 25-35% of my hits from Google.”

15. Quality Content (mentioned by many) – ilker writes – “Posting only quality content.. obviously! Better posts are discussed more, increasing both the number of comments and references in other blogs.”

16. Blog CarnivalsSlade writes – “submitting posts to Blog Carnivals”

17. MemesLeanne writes – “I’ve picked up a handful of wonderful friends and readers through initiating the “Thursday Thirteen”. Yeah, a meme. Bloggers want to know about bloggers, not just the business aspect of it but the *person* writing the blog. Reading a quick list of “getting to know me” type tidbits gives me instant inside information on whether or not I will become a regular visitor. Some participants have used it solely to gain business, but frankly I think that turns people away. People are interested in people first, and what they do second. It works.”

18. Frequent Posting - baggage writes – “I also try to post frequently. I find that the more I post, the more readers I have. The less comments, but the more readers.”

19. Guest BloggersRandom Good Stuff writes – “I invite other bloggers to guest blog and allow always one link back to their site. I have 3 active guest authors … and in return they link to my site from time to time.”

20. Get Links from Other BlogsJamdo writes – “Getting mentioned on other sites and blogs in the same niche, I think, has been the best way to get a readership who keeps returning to a blog. Make contact with other bloggers in yoru niche via comments, email, AIM, skype, homing pigeons – whatever.”

21. NewslettersAdrian writes – “The Zookoda newsletter provides nice spikes and people tend to forward the newsletter to their friends.”

22. Social NetworksIlya writes – “Submit your story to Digg and reddit and, regardless of whether it makes the front page or not, you get 50-100 free hits. The easiest way to generate quick exposure. Failing that, comment frequently on blogs that you like. With any luck, the blog author will want to find out more about you, follow the link to your blog, and perhaps write a post referencing one of your posts.”

23. Pitch Your PostsMarty Weil writes – “I view other bloggers as a PR pros view journalists working in traditional media. I reach out to bloggers using tactics successfully employed in the world of professional media relations. For instance, I “pitch” specific posts that they might find adds value to topics they are writing about. I also send email introducing them to my blog, but only if there’s a good fit between my blog and theirs. The key is to be very selective in approaching the “media gatekeeper”–just as successful and smart media relations people do.”

How do you find Readers for Your Blog? – Open Mike

I’m heading away for one night as part of our long weekend here in Australia for Australia Day and so thought it might be time for a reader discussion on the topic that everyone seems to be asking me about these days – ‘how do I find readers for my blog?’

Share you own experiences and tips on how you’ve drawn readers to your blog.

What’s worked for you?
What hasn’t worked for you?
What would you recommend for someone just starting out in blogging who has no readers?

Looking forward to reading your responses when I get home tomorrow.

Have a good weekend!

Digg Traffic vs Referral Traffic – Which is Best?

Digital Inspiration has a post on Getting Noticed by A-list bloggers vs Getting on Digg Front Page which makes a few worthwhile observations.

It fits pretty closely to a comment I made last week in an interview with Jeremy when I was asked which social networking site I’d prefer to get traffic from. My response was (and I’m paraphrasing here) that while I don’t mind the rush of traffic of traffic that a site like Digg can bring in that I’d prefer a link from another blogger because it brings a different type of traffic.

Digg Traffic – While Digg brings a rush of traffic – it does so from a site with a very broad focus in terms of topics. It also sends the traffic largely from a link with little context around it and in most cases a link that comes from a largely anonymous person.

Blog Traffic - Traffic from another blogger is different on a number of levels. While it might not come in the same numbers – it will generally come with commentary and context, from a site that usually has some sort of a single focus, from a person who has established some level of trust and/or profile with their readers.

As a result – in most cases the Digg traffic comes and goes quickly and doesn’t usually hang around for dialogue – whereas referrals from other sites is more likely to ‘convert’ either as a longer term viewer, RSS subscriber, newsletter member or comment leaver.

Of course Digg traffic isn’t completely useless – in fact if you harness it you can grow a blog over time. It comes in such high numbers that even if only a very small group stick around it can be worthwhile.

It also brings a round of secondary links – which can be good for SEO and lastly it doesn’t hurt the old ego and can give a rush of motivation to a blogger. The key with Digg traffic however is to work on converting readers into loyal ones.

More reflections on different types of traffic at:

How to Build Incoming Links to Your Blog

Are you looking to build the number of incoming links to your site?

Brian has post together a useful post with 5 link building strategies that work which you might like to check out. He takes a look at these five strategies (headings are his – comments are mine):

1. Social Media Sites – Some think the best thing about sites like Digg, Reddit and Delicious is the rush of traffic that they can bring your site. However the secret sauce is in the secondary link ups that can come from being featured on such sites. Read more here on how to build a digg culture on your blog.

2. Linking Out – Link unto others as you would have them link unto you. One of the best ways to get on the radar of other bloggers is to talk (and to) them on your own blog. Generous out linking has a way of having pay offs to those doing the linking. Of course don’t do it just with the hope of getting links out of it – find quality content to link to and your readers will love you too!

3. Networking Emails - Brian’s right – begging for links rarely works – but sending other bloggers an email with a link from your blog can work IF you do it smartly. Key words from Brian’s post are ‘what’s in it for them?’ Make it relevant, be generous, don’t take up too much of their time, be gracious. Read more on how to ask bloggers for links.

4. Guest Appearances – There are many great things about doing a guest post (or extended guest blogging spot) at another blog in your niche. For starters it has the potential to lift your profile – but the secondary benefits include any links that you might be able to include back to your own blog.

5. Article Directories – I’ve never used this method myself but know of a few bloggers who do submit articles to free article portals. Like Brian says, it’s probably less effective in terms of SEO these days due to the search engines discounting duplicate content – however it could bring in a few new readers if the articles get posted on the right site. I do know one blogger who does something similar by sending other bloggers unique and original articles for them to use – in a sense this is like a guest post but they send the articles unsolicited.

Personally I find that the best way to get links is to write useful, insightful, unique, stimulating, engaging content that meets the need of others. Do this for long enough and the links will start to follow. Do this in conjunction with the first two or three techniques above and you’ll find the pace accelerated.

Use above techniques without quality content and you’re wasting your time.

How To Market Your Blog in 2007

What-Is-Rss-1-1Want to learn more about marketing a blog? Subscribe to ProBlogger today for free and check out our how to find readers for your blog page.

It breaks my heart to see blogs with great content languish in utter anonymity, devoid of comments, saddled with a seven-figure alexa traffic ranking, and rotting in pagerank purgatory.

Well, no more, I say!

For those bloggers out there who have decided to start their blogs, or launch their blogging careers, in 2007 I salute you — and present to you with 41 ways to kickstart your marketing efforts. Kick back, grab a cold one, and check it out. And if, in a year’s time, you’ve cracked the Technorati 1000, don’t forget where it all began! :)

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AdWords offer $50 free Ads for New Advertisers

Have you ever wanted to test out AdWords to promote your blog?

Google are currently running a promotion where you get a $50 Ad coupon when you sign up here.

thanks to Jaro for the tip via email.

Promoting Your Blog With a Series and Articles

Reader-Quick-TipsThis Reader ‘Quick Tip’ was sent in by Michael Moore from Price of Diamonds.

The bottom line is that we all want more people to visit our blog. One successful way I have found that attracts people to mine is by doing a series of articles labelled parts 1,2 and 3.

Part one I distribute around to other sites, such as article sites, and as press releases. In that article I reference parts 2 and 3 on my blog with a link to the site.

This works well and I notice it does increase the vists to the site as, of course, people are keen to read the balance of the article.

Of course one must ensure that the content is interesting so the reader feels they made a worthwhile visit.