As if writing great content isn’t hard enough, learning how to get people to read your blog posts can be just as challenging. It’s really discouraging to keep writing regularly when you feel like nobody cares. Well, I have good news and bad news: There are people who would love to read your content, they just don’t know you exist…yet.
This article covers 7 free tactics to promote your blog posts so you can get more people on your site, and start converting more visitors into sales or newsletter subscribers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, rev your engines.
#1 Post on Social Media Regularly, Use Hashtags (on some), and Focus on Headlines
Often the first places people go to promote a new blog post or their blog as a whole, are social media sites, and there’s some value there if you use it right, but unfortunately most people just post a link and pray—which doesn’t really work.
Here are some good tips to actually get people to read your blog post using social media:
A. Focus on 1 or 2 Social Media Sites at First
It’s tempting to try have a strong presence on every social media site in existence, but I don’t recommend that right away. First, consider who your target audience is, and create a presence on the sites where they most likely hang out.
For example, if you blog about productivity in the modern workplace, you probably don’t want to try posting your content on social platforms that are mostly tailored toward teens, because they won’t care. Instead, go where you can find 25-44 year olds who would like to read about work productivity, and start with creating a presence there first. Whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus—wherever.
Focusing on just a couple of platforms will help you grow meaningful followings so more people will see your posts, rather than spreading out your time and resources across all social media.
B. Find a Good Posting Frequency, and Be Consistent
A crucial part of seeing meaningful traffic from social media, is growing an audience on those platforms so that when you post, a significant amount of people actually see your post. How you grow a following is by consistently posting and participating.
Tools like Buffer make it easy to schedule out your social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Buffer has a free version too which is great. You can even use it to find what the best time for you to post is to get the most eyes on your article.
Whether it’s 3 times per day or once per day, find a groove with it so you can have consistent growth over time in both audience growth and blog traffic. Experiment with how often to post to see what’s working for you on your different platforms.
Buffer has some more great research that suggests these frequencies:
Facebook:5-10X per week
Twitter:5X+ per day
Google+:Up to 5X per day
LinkedIn:1X per day
C. Optimize Hashtag Use, and Don’t Overuse Them
When users post using a hashtag (the pound sign) followed by a category or keyword (ex: #marketing or #america), almost every popular social media site uses that as a way to categorize the post. Users can search for hashtags as a way of finding content of users that interests them, whether or not they follow those other users (unlike feeds which are typically just posts by other users you’ve chosen to follow).
Some people get hashtag crazy, thinking that it will increase their chances of being seen or interacted with, but each social network has its own rules and algorithms for how many hashtags they prefer and what seems to drive the most engagements.
Here’s a quick reference for how many hashtags to use on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+ to get the most bang for your buck based on the research and great post on Buffer’s blog: A Scientific Guide to Hashtags
Facebook: Posts with 0 hashtags actually perform better!
Google+: It will automatically generate hashtags for you that you can edit, and you can add more, but 2-3 seems to be a sweet spot.
When in doubt, on the social media sites not on that list, use 2-3 hashtags to get the most exposure for your posts.
D. Write Shareable, Clickable Headlines
The headline is the most important part of a social media post (often times it’s the only part as well), so you have to make it count if you want people to click it. The headline serves one purpose—to get clicked, so it should be optimized for that. Remember you can try different ones when posting on social media. It doesn’t have to be the same as your blog post title, or even the same each time you share that same post.
Research done by CoSchedule verified old findings that the emotional a headline is, the higher likelihood there is that it will get clicked and shared (Here’s the full post on Okdork.com if you’re curious).
Advanced Marketing Institute has a free headline analyzer tool that I use for my headlines to measure the emotional marketing value (EMV) of a headline. It’s a great resource and has proven to work on my blog as far as clicks and social shares go.
#2. Participate in Relevant Forums
A bit of evergreen marketing advice: Go where your customers are. The same way we applied this rule to choosing which social media platforms to start with, with forums, social media groups, and online, find where your target audience is hanging out and go have a presence there.
To find good forums for your niche, do a Google search like this, “forum:YourNiche” to find good forums to get involved with. For example, if you blog about whiskey, you would search, “forum:whiskey”.
Become a valued member of the forum, and the majority of the time that you post a link back to one of your blog posts, try to do it in the context of answering someone’s question so that it’s organic and helpful. If all you do is post links in the forum back to your own blog without providing value, you’ll likely be blocked and considered spam.
A good rule of thumb on forums and social groups on Facebook, Google+, etc. is to provide value through comments 5 times before posting one of your own links. It will give you some credibility and mercy from the moderators.
#3. Answer Questions in Quora
Quora is a question and answer site with a huge user base. Users can post questions in different categories and can also answer the questions posted by others. Answers are upvoted by users to rank the best answers for every question, making for a massive database of great answers to all kinds of questions. Users can follow certain questions and even ask specific users to attempt answering their questions.
Like in forums and social media groups, you don’t want to be spammy by just posting your blog article links everywhere, but it is completely acceptable to post your blog link when it’s a relevant and helpful part of your answer to someone’s question. It can provide some good blog traffic if it’s a popular question and your answer is upvoted high enough. Go answer questions as often as possible.
#4. Be Active on Reddit
Reddit is a social site made up of a collection of subreddits (forums/subcategories) of various topics from funny videos to a subreddit completely dedicated to showing pictures of plants growing in sponges…I don’t get it either, but the point is there’s a subreddit for everything.
Each subreddit has its own rules, which can vary greatly from other subreddits, because they are all user-created and owned. Some allow you to post links and text posts, and some only allow one or the other. Users “upvote” or “downvote” posts to show what they like and what they don’t like. The more upvotes and comments you have on your post, the higher up on the page it will show in the subreddit, and the longer it will stay on the first page, which will dramatically increase your chances of seeing website traffic from it.
When posting links or topic posts, click the “hot” tab to sort by the posts that are currently getting a lot of comments and upvotes to get an idea of how to structure your headline in a way that the particular subreddit community will respond best to. I beg of you, please don’t post a link with a title, “Check out my latest blog post!!” Nobody cares. People are self-centered and want to read things that help them. Think of compelling headlines like we talked about before, and stay focused on providing value.
Don’t get offended if people on Reddit call you a spammer or say mean things to you. It will probably happen. Just focus on the people who respond well and appreciate you, and converse with them in the comments.
Try your best to adhere to proper “reddiquette” and subreddit rules, and it can be a substantial website traffic resource for you.
#5. Join Social Media Groups
Most bloggers will stop at just posting links to their articles on their own profiles/feeds, which is a big mistake. You can give your content a better chance at attracting readers by joining groups.
Groups on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn can be absolute gold mines for building community and getting people to read your content. Similar to Reddit, but without the substantial amount of trolls, these groups allow for great conversation and great opportunities to post links when they’re relevant to other members’ questions.
Go search for groups and join at least one on each social media you’re active on, and post your blog post links/provide helpful comments in those groups.
#6. Comment and Provide Value on other Blogs
Just like you would comment in forums linking back to a helpful blog post of yours, you can do the same thing on other people’s blogs in the comments section. That being said, don’t be so obvious with it that you rub the blog owner the wrong way. Be respectful, only post one link, provide value in your comment beyond the link (the link should be an afterthought), and always be sure it’s directly relevant to someone’s question or discussion, or the article itself that you are commenting on. Create friends, not enemies.
#7. Repurpose Your Content on Other Platforms
This is typically how it goes—you spend hours crafting a great article, publish it on your blog, promote it to your usual channels, then move on to the next article and never look back. The problem with that is you’re treating each article like it can only be published in one place, but that’s simply not true.
In order to get more traffic opportunities to your website, you can repurpose your articles by posting the same or slightly tweaked content on different platforms, which helps you reach new audiences. Two platforms I’ve repurposed content on and that I’ve seen others be very successful with as well are Medium and LinkedIn, but do your research and see what else is out there.
LinkedIn is a professional social network geared toward business networking, so if your articles are very business-oriented, it could be a good platform for you to repurpose on.
Medium is a place where anyone can create a free account and share text of any kind. It’s like a social network where your posts can be an entire article of yours instead of just a summary or headline. People can follow you or just search by category to read things about their topics of interest. It’s still a fairly young platform, but I see big things for it.
The point of repurposing is to reach a new audience that is already hanging out on other platforms using your existing content, and lure them in to go check out your real blog. It’s a promotion tactic.
Here’s how to get some traffic back to your website by repurposing content on other platforms:
First, copy and paste your already-written blog post, and tweak it a little if you desire. Make sure to reference at least one of your other blog posts, and link it back to that article on your actual website. For example, I repurposed my article, 5 Ways to Create More Time, and in the post I reference another post on how to not be average, and I linked to it:
“According to Nielson, the average American watches more than 4 hours of tv EVERY DAY. That translates to literally 2 months out of every year spent with the magic box. Don’t be average.”
Also be sure to create and include a byline with a strong call to action, and make both be as relevant as possible to the reader of each specific post. For example, for the articles that were more geared toward entrepreneurship topics, here’s a byline I used:
“Dustin Lien writes productivity, self-improvement, and other mindset success
articles for Entrepreneurs at StrategicSauce.com. To get his full-length book, It’s
Time to Start, for free, click here. This article was originally published on StrategicSauce.com.”
This is not an exhaustive list of how to get people to read your blog, but it’s a solid list for you to get started with so you can grow your traffic and email newsletter list.
Action Step: Implement at least 1 of these you’re not currently doing into your regular blogging strategy.