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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! :)
Get Your Own House In Order
Write well, write consistently, don’t give up: All the marketing in the world won’t help you if you have a lame-duck blog. In your search for more traffic, more promotion, and more publicity, never forget it starts with great content — and needs to continue with great content on a regular schedule. There’s no question that maintaining quality and regularity is difficult while you’re starting out, particularly if you’re time strapped … but hang in there, because if you sacrifice this, all of your marketing efforts will be for naught.
Become an expert on something: Develop a keen interest, continue to read and write intelligently, and after a while, your experience will grant you this informal title; bloggers will seek you out, your reknown will grow, and it will be easier to be noticed, linked to, and get cross promoted (see below)
Design is more important than you think: Your mother’s right — first impressions count, and they can count for cash money. If you’re serious about blogging, don’t stick with a n unaltered top10 WordPress theme no matter how cool you think it is. You want to separate and elevate yourself from the blogging masses, and its impossible to do if you look exactly the same as them. Easy to say, hard to do, but absolutely necessary if you don’t have the money to pay for a private ground-up theme: learn CSS and a photoeditor of choice, and learn to tweak your theme yourself, so that your blog looks professional, stands out, and screams “yes, I am worthy of your attention!”.
Get Your SEO On: An entire post in and of itself — get your own domain name, host your own blogging software, enable permalinks, create keyword rich headlines, create unique title tags, enable trackback and ping functionality, ensure your blog pings pinging-services.
Publish full feeds: A controversial topic. Publishing full feeds puts you at the mercy for content scrapers who will scrape your RSS feeds and repost your content, create traffic, and reap adsense bucks. On the other hand, some data suggests that it can also increase your traffic, and a few pundits swear by it. Feed subscriptions are critical; get your feeds burned through Feedburner so you can track how many are subscribing. People who subscribe to feeds rarely unsubscribe, and every single feed subscriber is a potential source of traffic to your blog.
Do interviews with other bloggers: Score interviews with newsworthy individuals (who may be linked to newsworthy content), to create link worthy content, but more importantly, create news on THEIR blog to get back to YOUR blog.
Break important stories: See the post on how to find news. Long story short: if you have an interest in an area, it is still possible to do this as long as you’re willing to put in the time and energy to find stuff. Benefit: being picked up by A-list blogs, mainstream news outlets and more.
Have a contest: Or, have regular contests, which encourage participation and buzz in your corner of the blogosphere.
Publish original research: If you’ve got the time, start with a question, try and figure it out with the data available, and “publish it”. For fun, I asked myself “How many of the Top 30 Diggers actually blog?” And I just went through their profiles and created a table of how many blogged. I then talked about what it meant, and tried to answer the question “why?” [answer: not many do blog, its because being a top 30 digger requires a huge time investment]
Put out Press Releases: Particularly if you have something new, unique, or particularly important to say (such as an important story, or research)
Work your long tail: A tip based on your SEO efforts; there is a free service called Hit Tail that will analyze the search terms leading to your blog traffic, and yank out high quality key words you should be focusing on that you might not immediately think of. This can help you focus your future posts as you are already getting traffic for those key words.
Answer your comments, in your comments, and off blog: Of course you have enabled comments on every post, right? So, when you do get comments, answer as many as humanly possible, and if its an interesting enough issue or question, contact the poster directly for a friendly follow up. Treat every potential poster as a potential subscriber to your feed, and a future friend and contact.
Spend time to create links and trackbacks: In every post spend as much time as you can to create outbound links to relevant and high linking blogs; many blogs automatically have trackbacks enabled, so in their comments section they will have a link back to your blog. If its a highly trafficked and ranked blog, this can mean traffic BACK to your blog, and it can draw notice from the author themselves — because, let’s face it, we’re all vain in a fashion, even A-listers, and we’re all interested in who is linking to us.
Get Your MyBlogLog widget and work it, work it, work it (in a nice way): MyBlogLog — know it, love it, and embrace it. Since its been acquired by Yahoo, it has the potential to explode all over the blogosphere. The two sentence run down is that it offers a free widget that enables you to build a free community around your blog, and to easily see which other bloggers have been to your blog. You can “add” friends, and generate traffic, but more importantly, your own network of like-minded blogging colleagues in a way that is relatively easy and efficient. Just go easy on the unsolicited messages. I wrote a complete review over here.
Getting the Word Out
Join a blog carnival: Where every blogger who joins one blogs about a topic, then each blog gets promoted. Here’s an index of blog carnivals to get you started.
Join blog network: Between 9rules, b5media, and others, there is networking potential, income potential, and a link-a-palooza waiting for you (through the linkroll as every member may have to link to every other member) if you’re able to get into one. Goes back to tip #1 — don’t forget to keep up your blog.
Participate in forums: Forums with tons of pages, huge lists of members, and a responsive community are an easy way to not only connect with other individuals, but an opportunity to tastefully demonstrate your expertise and a link back to your blog
Participate on larger blogs in comments: Like number three, except that by participating directly in another blogger’s comments you a) get their recognition and b) get the recognition of the blogging community. Also, here’s a tip: try and be one of the first few commenters on heavily trafficked sites to get recognized — most people won’t read past the first 10-20 comments. Here’s another tip for traffic: IF (and ONLY IF) you have posted something relevant that is pursuant to the ongoing conversation and IF the blog has a commenting policy that will allow you to do so, post a link back to a post on your own site (“hey guys, I wrote about how we can solve this problem! — check out the link over here, but let me summarize it for you … “). Sometimes you’ll be surprised at how much traffic comes back.
Join Blogburst: Blogburst is a type of “blog network”, which syndicates content across American newspaper’s websites, such as USA Today and Reuters. That’s right, you could get a post syndicated on Reuters. Trust me — it can happen . Highly ranked inbound links + traffic + bragging rights to your mom that your post got featured in a newspaper. Not too shabby. Also on the upside, they have a new revenue sharing scheme. The bad: read their terms of service carefully — you give up certain rights when they republish your content, and the revenue sharing works on the top100 publishers only.
Participate in Darren’s contests: He has enough of them, and often publishes links to all of the participants.
Submit to blog directories: So people can find your blog.
Submit to Google sitemaps: Really part of “get your house in order”, but when you do, Google will be able to find you so much easier; translation — more Google juice, more traffic, higher rankings faster. Tip: for WordPress fans, this plugin is particularly useful.
Submit to article directories: You might want to submit your favourite posts to article directories, where they will enable you to have a biobox / blurb with a link back to your own blog. Again, demonstrating your expertise, and moreover, the article might get picked up in a ezine or another blog, leading to more traffic and more inbound links.
Get interviewed: If you’ve demonstrated your expertise, or have done something newsworthy, or reported on something newsworthy, try and get interviewed. As long as its done in a fair way (doesn’t need to be a completely puffpiece) by a site or blogger with some reknown, its more traffic for you.
Get listed on a news aggregator, or blog aggregator: Like Techmeme for technews, or Tailrank for blogging news. Hint: some news aggregators will actually accept submissions if you ask them nicely; double hint: try and get listed by linking to a top story within your first 100 words.
Create free stuff for yourself and give it away: Like ebooks, digests of your favourite posts, pdfs, and so on. Make sure to include a link back in the document, back to your site.
Create free stuff for other people: the same, let them distribute it, get a link back.
Pay for pub: Efficient means of using your cash is to buy targeted Adwords, or keywords in Yahoo’s advertising network; you could get other bloggers to write about you using PayPerPost or ReviewMe; or you purchase text link ads through Text-Link-Ads.com
Connect, Connect, Connect
Make friends with other bloggers: Ridiculously simple, but its true. Benefits of “networking” (making friends) include more mentions on other blogs, more requests for interviews, more partnerships in future deals, more “adds” into their MyBlogLog network, more “ads” into someone else’s blogroll (and therefore links back to your blog) — it goes on and on.
Guest blog: Offer to do it for free, and you’ll be able to demonstrate what you know to an entirely new audience. Gives you great credibility, and of course, most will allow a courtesy link back to your own blog. A free foot-in-the-door to some communities as well.
Volunteer, intern, scut-monkey your way into a blogger’s graces: Maintaining a highly trafficked site is a lot of work. Offer to volunteer your time with menial behind the scenes stuff (moderating posts, acting as a bird dog for news) for free and with a smile, and you’ll get a foot-in-the-door with the blogger, their network, and future opportunities.
Get hired: You never know which blog organizations are looking to hire new bloggers; again, an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, meet new bloggers, and open tons of professional “doors” … because now that you’re getting paid? You’re a “pro-blogger”, mate!
Network in person: Find other local bloggers using services like Meetup, and see if they’re literally getting together to commiserate about blogging or their topic of blogging. If you’ve got the time, there’s nothing that makes an impression as actually meeting someone in person. Tip: bring a business card; Another tip: if you don’t have any, make some; yet another tip: if important people are going to be there, really — try and go. Remember, you didn’t know me before Problogger, but I met Darren in person at a function in Toronto that played a part in me writing this. Think about that.
Join virtual groups: Through Yahoo Groups, Usenet, and more; then bring the conversation off the group with emails and instant messages. Be friendly, be helpful, and it will pay dividends.
Cross promote: Once you’ve gotten to know people, you can kindly remind them to promote posts that you’re particularly proud of; or, vote for your submissions on Digg or your social bookmarking site of choice. Reciprocate.
Make Social Media Work For You
Facebook: Its a social network that has opened its doors behind its college beginnings. Anyone can sign up. Start connecting with old friends and colleagues, like any other social network. But, unlike other social networks (as far as I know), you can import your own blog’s RSS feed, so that your connections can see what you’re blogging. Who knows where that might lead? Update: Myspace also allows this function, i believe.
Join Helium: Helium is a new site that is actively looking people to head new categories of content. Think a paid “about.com” — for its authors. If you have a particular interest that isn’t yet served on Helium you might want to check it out; besides giving you cash for content, it’ll also demonstrate your authority in a topic, and you’ll be able to leverage Helium’s own traffic for your own blog through a linkback on your profile.
Yahoo Answers! A similar idea; but this time, you’re answering questions that people are posting. Yahoo! is quite careful about spam, however, and including a “signature” is a dicey proposition at times. There is a fairly sophisticated registry and voting system that tries to prevent “gaming”, but given how much traffic yahoo! answers gets, AND its inclusion as a separate result area in Yahoo SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) it might be something worth looking into.
Create a Squidoo Page Lens: On a given related topic to your blog; participate in the Squidoo community; Squidoo has a ton of traffic, and you could funnel traffic and tastefully include links to other relevant sites and perhaps your own blog.
Use MySpace Marketing: Far beyond the confines of this post, but in a similar fashion to Squidoo, the idea is to capitalize on the HUGE amount of traffic MySpace gets (some interesting thoughts over here). Create a profile, create relevant content and links back. Start adding friends. Comment on your friends space. Join groups. Start enjoying the trickle back traffic.
Get Dugg / Netscaped / Reddited / Stumbled upon: Whole articles (and sites) are written about the intricacies of socially bookmarking. Here’s a tip: focus on creating great content, make friends on these sites if they allow you to, and submit your stories judiciously. ‘Nuff said (for now).
[Yes, I excluded "create viral videos", because I thought that extended beyond blogging and into video casting -- which, I'll admit isn't tremendously different, but hey ... gotta draw the line somewhere. ]
And at this point, we open the floor to comments, questions, cheers and jeers. If you have any further tips, share’em so we can all learn together! :)
*Tony Hung is the guest blogger for the week, and he blogs at DeepJiveInterests.com