So, you started a blog and now you want to figure out how to get people to actually read it.
We’ll go over tips you can follow to start marketing your blog as well as a routine to follow on an ongoing basis to continue to grow your audience over time.
1) Start By Understanding Who You’re Talking To
To start marketing your blog you first need to know who you’re talking to. You need to understand the person you are targeting, your ideal reader. This is important so you can talk directly to that ideal person.
Your content should try to reach one very specific person. If you can do that, you will inadvertently talk in a way that resonates with many people. If instead, you try to write to everybody your content will be generic to a point that it bores everybody.
Not only should your blog articles speak directly to one person, but any social posts or advertising should be written that way as well. Everything you write should be directed towards your target reader.
Now, to determine who that is you can create a persona. A persona uses your data to create a profile of your ideal reader. It helps you to create a story so clear that you can picture exactly who this person is.
2) Make Your Site Easy To Use
Before you get too deep into promoting your blog, make sure there are no technical hurdles. You don’t want to spend precious time and/or money to get people to your website just to have an issue stop them from being able to enjoy the content.
a) Make Sure Your Site Is Fast
People don’t want to wait. Especially if they are on a mobile device. If they click and link to visit your article and after a few seconds they are staring at a blank white screen, they’ll be clicking the back button to view the next link.
There are free tools such as GTMetrix and Google Page Insights that you can use to identify how you can improve your page speed. Run the scans and review the recommendations. Sometimes the suggestions get to be very technical but sometimes it’s as easy as adding height and width to an image.
On GTMetrix you get a lot of detail about every suggestion to help even the non-technical blog owner. When they suggest you replace an image with a file that looks identical but is a much smaller file size (so it loads faster) they provide you the new file. You can just save it and then replace it on your website. They also provide directions for how you can implement some of the more technical suggestions (such as browser caching). They even include WordPress specific directions with plugin recommendations and guides.
Do what you can to improve your website load times. The longer your site takes to load the more people you will lose before they even have a chance to judge your content.
b) Make Sure Your Site Loads On Every Device
You want your website to be responsive. What that means is the width of your website responds to the width of the device. Whether your reader is on a phone, tablet, or desktop you want the experience to be perfect.
This doesn’t just mean that it is possible to view on these devices, but that the experience is optimized for the size. On mobile, buttons need to be larger so fingers don’t accidentally select the wrong item.
On desktop, the content needs to wrap in a way that utilizes the additional screen space. Also, hovers and interactions that greatly improve the desktop experience can ruin a mobile experience. Be prepared and have an appropriate replacement.
c) Make Sure Your Site Looks Good On Popular Browsers
And just like how you want your website to look great on every device, you want your website to look great on every browser. Now, let’s rephrase this. Every browser would be awesome, but it isn’t realistic. Instead, you should aim for it to look good on the browsers popular with your audience.
To find out which browsers those are, look in your Google Analytics data.
You can find this data under Audience > Technology > Browser & OS.
Take a look at each of those browsers and make sure the user experience meets the desired expectations on each.
3) Set Goals
It’s best to set clear goals before you start marketing your blog. You will likely have multiple goals for your website. One method when creating website goals is to understand your macro goal and any micro-goals.
The macro goal is the primary goal for your website. Most often this is going to be related to money. It could be the purchase of a product or affiliate commission. Normally, revenue is the end result you’re hoping for, but there are several smaller goals that can play a role in getting the person down the funnel.
These small goals are micro-goals. They can be when people click a play button or a download link, subscribe to a newsletter, or spend a significant length of time on the site.
Often, when you start marketing your blog you will have better results if you focus on one of your micro conversion points instead of jumping directly to a sale.
If you don’t already have a clear micro goal to focus on for your marketing, this is a great time to create a freebie in exchange for an email. Create an e-book, whitepaper, or graphical one sheet that people can download on your website once they enter an email address.
You can use MailChimp to automate the process. Create a new list and embed the signup form on your website with information about the downloadable asset they’re signing up for.
Then, in MailChimp, set up new automation with an email that sends immediately to new list subscribers. After you send what was promised, you can automate follow-ups to ask permission for continued communication.
If you have the content you can use this same system to automate a weekly course. You’ll just have to add multiple emails to your automation and set them to send one week after the previous.
Goals vary greatly depending on the business model. Choose a goal that makes sense for your company. Doing this will make it easier to understand if your marketing efforts are producing the results you’re looking for.
4) Create a Routine
If you want to market your blog, the key is going to be persistent. You need to create a routine that you can get behind and follow consistently.
a) Post Content Regularly
The first part of your routine will be posting regular content on your blog. If you don’t keep up on your blog there isn’t much of a point in marketing it.
Regular content helps people gauge expectations. When you have a schedule people understand when they can expect to hear from you next and how often.
So, how often should you update your blog? You should update your blog as often as you can, consistently. So, if you can commit to weekly blog updates, then do it. If you can only commit to monthly updates, that is better than nothing. If you have enough time for daily updates, great!
Weekly blog updates are a great goal to strive for, but the quality is more important than quantity. Pick a schedule that works with your time constraints and make it happen.
b) Spend Time on the Headlines
Headlines are important. When you’re writing your articles make sure you spend time crafting the perfect headline. Don’t just choose the first one you think of. Spend time writing multiple headlines for each article and then choose the best one.
When you start marketing your blog headlines will become even more important. Many people share articles based on nothing more than the headline.
c) Make Your Articles Easy to Scan
Another tip while you’re creating your blog posts, make them easy to scan. Use subheadings, bulleted lists, and bold text where it makes sense. Most people will scroll through the article and scan the page to get an idea about the content before they decide to read it in depth. Make it easy for people. Scanning it should give them a sense of what the article is about.
5) Optimize for SEO
Your blog article should focus on providing value to your target audience. When you’re writing your article you don’t want to get carried away thinking about SEO and keywords. But, when you’re done there are a few on-page optimizations you should check to help improve SEO.
For each article, you should have a keyword or key phrase you’re targeting. We aren’t going to get into keyword research in this article, but even if you didn’t come up with the topic by initially performing keyword research, you should still have a topic you’re focusing on.
Determine the keyword you want this article rank for in search engines and make sure that term is represented in the following places.
- Title — Add the keyword to the title of the article. The closer to the beginning of the title, the better. But, don’t compromise quality to make the keyword fit first.
- URL — If it’s easy for you to edit the URL, make sure to add the keyword. If the article is already published and the keyword isn’t in it, don’t worry about it. Either leave it alone or make sure you redirect the old URL to the new one so you don’t miss out on any traffic.
- First Paragraph — Make sure to include the keyword somewhere in the first paragraph.
- Heading — Include the keyword in one of the headings. It doesn’t need to be in every heading, but it can be in a few. Do what makes sense for the article.
- Meta Description — Make sure you add a meta description. If you have a WordPress website, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to add this. The meta description is displayed on search results pages. It doesn’t directly improve search rankings but it can increase click-through rates if it is compelling. Make sure to include the keyword here too because search engines will make it bold if it matches the searched query.
6) Add Internal Links
After your article is published, go through and add internal links. You want to add links to your existing articles on your new article, and vice versa, meaning you also want to add links to your new article in any related existing articles.
This helps for multiple reasons. Linking your articles makes it easier for search engine spiders to crawl and find new content. It also helps spread authority throughout your web pages. When you link pages to each other you are showing these pages are relevant, the new page is important to this category, and the existing pages still matter.
7) Share on Social
Okay, the article is published, you’ve made some SEO improvements, and added internal links. Now, it’s time to start getting the word out. The easy first step is to share on social media.
a) Share on Your Networks
Share your article on your social networks. This might be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Whichever networks you focus on for your business, make sure you share your new article on those networks.
Use a social scheduling tool such as HootSuite or Buffer to schedule up additional future posts. You want to share the post when it’s first published but you should also share it the following week, and then a couple of weeks after that, and then the next month and the month after.
You can keep sharing the same post but be creative with it. Change up the content of your post when you share it. Instead of only using the post title, state a fact from the article or a quote. Rephrase the title as a list article or a question. Share the same article but keep it interesting for your audience.
b) Encourage Sharing
As well as sharing on your own networks, you should encourage other people to share. Add social share icons to your articles on your website. You can use the AddToAny Share Buttons plugin in WordPress to easily add share buttons.
8) Send to Your Email List
Share your article with your audience. Whether your email list has 10 people or 10,000 people keep in contact with them. Send out the article as a basic text email. You want to keep your email list warm, you want people to expect to hear from you.
9) Analyze the Results
Look at your Google Analytics data and identify what’s working and what isn’t. Look at the acquisition sources. You can look at the social networks and referral sites you get the most traffic from. Can you leverage that information? Can you post more on the networks that are working better for your business and waste less time on the low performers?
Take a look at the content. Which articles perform best? What can you learn from that? Do the top performers all include step-by-step tutorials or do they have infographics and beautiful imagery?
Look at your data so you can help understand what in your routine is working and where you can improve.
10) Repeat the Process
Now, you need to keep repeating this process. The more you do it the quicker it will be. It might feel like a slow process at first but stick with it. We all make mistakes at times. But, if you are consistent you will start to see your traffic increase, your search rankings improve, and your website audience grows.