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  • The Blog Promotion Curve

    8 April 2008

    Launching and growing a successful blog takes commitment to several different areas, including promotion. Even blogs with large, established audiences need to be doing some type of promotion in order to keep growing. What’s been interesting to me in my experience with blog promotion is the curve that takes place as your blog develops and your base of readers grows.

    Defining the promotional curve

    When a new blog is launched, off-blog promotion (anything you do to market your blog that takes place away from your blog itself) is critical. Naturally, a new blog will start with zero readers, and in order for people to subscribe they will first have to find the blog somehow. As a result, new bloggers need to dedicate the majority of their promotion efforts to things like commenting on other blogs, writing guest posts, building social media profiles, building inbound links, etc. These efforts will lead people to the blog, which provides the initial exposure that’s necessary to start the growth process.

    As the blog’s audience and subscriber count begins to grow, more time will need to be spent on the blog itself, or those who are arriving as a result of the promotional efforts will not stick around because there is nothing worth seeing. Eventually the blog will reach a stage where the blogger’s time is too valuable to be spending on excessive off-blog promotion, and the priority will curve towards promoting the blog by different means. At this time, activities like content creation, community building on the blog, sometimes contests and other activities will be more productive than the tactics that were used to gain the initial exposure.

    How the curve impacts you as a blogger

    As a blogger, it’s important to understand the stage of development that you are in. My blog started to really grow last summer when I became very active in writing guest posts for other blogs and gaining exposure in that way. That wasn’t my only method, I also did a good bit of social media marketing, but creating content and managing my blog only took a portion of my time, not all of it. One day I hit the Digg front page and gained over 200 new subscribers. Then it hit me. All of a sudden I felt much more pressure to create the best content that I was capable of, because now I had something to lose if I didn’t.

    When you are first launching a blog the biggest challenge is simply being noticed. I think most of us believe that our content is good enough to be appreciated by our target audience, the problem is that they can’t appreciate the blog without ever seeing it. Simply put, your first challenge is to get people’s eyes on your work.

    I’m not in any way suggesting that what you write and the methods that you use on your blog are not important until you have an audience, but I do believe that new bloggers should be active in other places aside from just focusing on their blog itself.

    One example that quickly comes to mind is Caroline Middlebrook. I first came across Caroline’s blog through a comment that she left (I think it was on my blog, but I could be wrong), and I’m not alone. In fact, Caroline had a commenting strategy that worked extremely well. As a new blogger she spent a lot of time reading and leaving valuable comments at other blogs. As people clicked-through and visited they saw that she had plenty to offer at her own blog, and many like me subscribed.

    When the curve begins

    At some point you’ll find yourself spending more and more time on your blog itself, as opposed to doing whatever you can to get people to notice you. At this point it’s just not worth your time to do so much off-blog promotion. Sure, commenting and being active in other communities is still a vital part of blogging, but your efforts will be more valuable if you use them to grow the asset that you have been building.

    Now you will need to protect your investment and nurture it by creating something that will retain the interest of your existing readers and also appeal to first-time visitors as they arrive. Once you have built a reasonably-sized readership, some of your promotion will be done for you. For example, you can create a great post and watch your existing readers vote for it on social media sites, which will result in new readers finding you through social media. This is a luxury you don’t have as a new blogger with no audience. Additionally, links will come much easier once the blog is more established.

    Putting the curve into practice

    Knowing about the curve is one thing, acting on it is another. For example, I have two blogs. One has a pretty good audience that has grown over the past 6 months to a year. The other is still pretty new and hasn’t been exposed to nearly as many people. Part of the reason it hasn’t grown as quickly as I would like is that I have been treating it as it if were more established. My promotional methods off the blog have been almost non-existent. In order to jumpstart the blog I need to go back to the basics and make more of an effort to get exposure from other places. On the other hand, most of my efforts on my primary blog are spent on content development. When I create the best content that I’m capable of, it gets promoted by current readers and new readers come as a result.

    Where are you on the promotional curve? Do you spend most of your time working on your own blog or promoting it in other places? How does this fit with the stage of development of your blog?

    This post was written by Steven Snell.

    13 Responses to The Blog Promotion Curve

    1. Eric Go April 8, 2008 at 1:54 pm #

      Just like in any career in the corporate world, the goal is to have an upward curve. It is always better to start from the very bottom and gradually climbed up.

      Rather than start high than gradually lowers.

    2. Sean Kelly April 8, 2008 at 2:55 pm #

      Thanks for sharing this. This is exactly what I do to promote my blog.

      So far though, because I notice the majority of my readers find me through google, I haven’t been as active in the blogosphere.

      Perhaps this is a sign to change that, as I have been considering that option more lately. I would like returning visitors over google searches any day.

    3. joshua April 8, 2008 at 7:05 pm #

      Hey, I agree with you.

    4. Stefanie April 8, 2008 at 10:30 pm #

      Great post – definitely an interesting spin of the typical “how to market your blog” post.

    5. Steven April 8, 2008 at 11:03 pm #

      Sean,
      I think being more involved with other blogs will certainly help you. Google traffic is part of the puzzle too, but it’s hard to rely on that traffic.

    6. adelle April 9, 2008 at 1:08 am #

      I’m definitely at the beginning of the promotion curve as I just started blogging about two weeks ago. I have used social sites mainly and I was also blown away by the amount of direct traffic by simply putting my new address at the bottom of all my emails. Great post, gives me a little confidence that I am starting off in the right direction.

    7. Caroline Middlebrook April 9, 2008 at 2:55 pm #

      Thanks for the link Steven. This is so true, I have found now that I am on the upward portion of that curve so my strategies have had to change slightly. I rarely comment now like I used to as it just doesn’t bring the same benefits anymore.

    8. Kevin Lee April 9, 2008 at 10:46 pm #

      Thanks, Steven,

      Awesome and helpful article. I am also enjoying receiving your feeds, which are to the point and are helping me with my site as well.

      My site started as vehicle for my personal writings which I intended to help me learn the blogging gig in order to launch another more serious site about keeping children safe. But it seems that my blog has taken off more than I thought it would in six month’s time. Now, I’m giving it most of my attention to see where it takes me!

      My best, and again, thanks!

    9. Eva White April 10, 2008 at 5:17 am #

      Wonderfully explained article.

    10. cooliojones April 12, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

      I definitely agree with this, and I have done the same thing and noticed the same thing. I think commenting and participating on other sites should be continuously done, as well as exposing yourself to sites outside of your interest, because there may be readers there who like your content also, even if you don’t like theirs. The method you mentioned also works if your blog gets slack and you have to build it up again. Good work on this piece.

    11. Online Business Networking April 17, 2008 at 9:53 pm #

      Commenting on other blogs/sites is something that you should do on your spare time… not only does it build a relationship with the other sites, but it also can build traffic too :)

    12. Joel Drapper October 15, 2008 at 11:55 pm #

      I agree. I would love to get to the point with my blog where I don’t need to promote it anymore because my readers do that for me with social bookmarking, twitter, their own blogs, etc.

    13. Al Phom May 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

      We’re a bunch of volunteers and beginning a new initiative in a community. Your blog provided us useful data to work on. You will have performed a marvellous job!

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