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.