You can have great writing and marketing chops, but if nobody’s visiting your site it may as well be lost in the deep web. Not that deep web, but you know what I mean.
The key to having a great site is being able to drive traffic to it. That’s 50% of what content marketing is, really. So if you’ve got a blog/site that’s stuck in neutral, I want to help get you into the fast lane. I’m a growth addict—it’s what I do. I built 50k monthly visitors for my personal blog in 2 years then to 200k/monthly visitors for the When I Work Blog in 1 year and most recently 30k monthly visitors for 100 Days of Growth Blog in 45 days. I’ve been hungry to find ways to do things faster and more efficiently.
If you can study the landscape, understand your tools at hand, and find some leverage, you’ll be on your way to 50k in just 90 days. So read on, and feel empowered to shift your site into drive!
Fan-Page Marketing Is Dead. Get involved in a Community
The first rule of content marketing is that you cannot be passive anymore. Gone are the days—short as they were—where people are going to seek out your Facebook page for new posts and updates. You need to engage and promote in active communities. No more one-and-done posting.
Here are some great communities that you can plug into right now:
Growthhackers.com: This is about as straightforward as you can get. It’s a community of people dedicated to, and pretty obsessed with, growth. You’ll find great articles and insights, and a new place where you can post your content and be a part of the discussion.
Inbound.org: A community of inbound marketers who are excited to help each other become better marketers. You can make valuable relationships and find a new platform for attracting visitors.
Slack Chats: Not a community per se, but a fantastic way to promote communication and growth. Slack integrates all of the communication tools you’re already using, making it even easier to reach out. You can find me on several smaller groups on Slack Chats, as well as BootstrappedChat, MakerHunt, and #startup
Reddit: To be honest, Reddit is not always so friendly to the idea of content marketers. They’re quick to call BS and wary of people who only promote their own stuff. Learn how to appreciate the community for what it is, and you could gain a whole slew of new fans.
Google+: A still relatively untapped social media platform for the world at large, Google+ is an ideal way of connecting with people whom you’re already having conversations with. Don’t miss out on its incredible inherent value.
LinkedIn: If you’re not publishing and engaging on LinkedIn, you need to start today. It’s an incredibly open and useful resource that’s desperate for quality content.
The fact of the matter is, you cannot remain insular and expect to gain followers. With the oversaturation of available resources, you need to be an active voice in the conversation, and learn how to engage with those communities well. You’ll find that it makes you a better communicator and content marketer.
Start With Guest Posts at a Small Site and Work Your Way Up
If you know your niche, then I guarantee you you’ll find a niche site that will take your content. You don’t have to get your start writing for the Wall Street Journal. Work your way up.
I started at searchenginejournal.com and worked my way up to Forbes & Inc., that didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen because I was willing to publish with the people who would take me. It’s about the simple fact of exposure. Unless your name is already out there, bigger sites won’t trust you as a voice of authority in the mix.
Admittedly, it can be hard to get started with guest blogging if you don’t know where to go. Check out this guide for the basics of how you can begin to get involved. Essentially, guest blogging is a relationship that’s understood to be mutually beneficial—if I scratch your back, you’ll be scratching mine. For authors, it’s a way to gain exposure, for sites, it’s a way to attract new followers.
Find small bloggers that are publishing content similar to yours. Invite them to guest blog on your site and form relationships. That way, you’re ensuring that quality and relevance remain high for all the content you post.
*Please note: Guest blogging should never be for SEO purposes. The benefit to smart guest blogging is that it exposes you to new audiences and boosts your site traffic.
Promote Others & Leverage Authorities
On that same note of inviting guest bloggers to your site, let’s talk about influencers. There are people out there in every industry that have better followings than you or I. Being at good at what you do means knowing who those people are, and putting stock in their opinion.
For one, the mere mention of them can be a great way to attract attention. It’s an excuse to track them down on social media or via email, just to let them know you’ve written about them. That in and of itself could lead to a mention.
On the other hand, you could be active about tracking them down before you even write your next post. I got quotes and conducted interviews with top marketers and entrepreneurs—and the next thing I knew, my blog was a place people could come for exclusive advice from top marketers.
Promote Others To Your Community
Beyond mentioning influencers in your next posts, you can leverage your community by simply being a good neighbor. When I came across good articles by other authors in my field, I submitted their good content to GrowthHackers & Inbound. Then I emailed the author letting them know.
An instant relationship was formed, and I never asked for anything—but all these people share my content just because I keep helping them.
All of those communities I mentioned above have the potential for these sort of relationships, and that’s why they’re so important. You’re in the thick of it with these other entrepreneurs, and they understand what the value of a share is. Don’t underestimate the value of a strong community bond.
Offer Help for Free
That said, don’t always help someone out with a returned favor in mind. Anyone that emails me, I do my best to help them. The reality is, they always share my content. You don’t ever want to help someone just so that they can help you back, but it’s the principle of reaping what you sow.
Essentially, it’s doing the due diligence of creating a brand: if you want people to come to you as a helpful resource, then you have to prove you are helpful in any way that you’re available to. Not only will helping someone increase their chances of sharing your stuff, but it’s also going to further people’s confidence in you. The benefits of that kind of relationship are hard to quantify.
Cold Emails to Relevant Audience
Not every relationship you make it going to be so easy. Sometimes it takes the terrifying work of cold emails. If I write about content marketing, I hunt down 30-40 emails of prominent content marketers and email them.
With that, I try to do two things really well: pitch ideas, and promote my blogs. I can do that in a number of ways, whether it’s letting someone know that I’ve promoted their work, or asking them if they need any guest blogging. As I continue to build up relationships with other content marketers, these cold emails tend to get easier, and generate a higher response rate.
Again, it’s about being a part of your industry and community. Do the hard work of getting your name out there now, and it will make promotion easier with each passing day.
Comment on Popular Blog Posts
You will see few comment sections as productive and positive as the ones on content marketing blogs. That’s because, unlike random YouTube videos and articles about politics, the people engaging with our sort of blogs know the value of a good comment.
Commenting on blogs is the essence of engaging. It’s your chance not only to respond to an authors’ work, but to display your knowledge to his or her readers. So I like to say, “Engage—even with Matt Cutts.”
Think of it like this: If someone like Matt Cutts publishes an article about the dangers of Guest Blogging, you can do one of two things: either berate him and leave a snarky comment that he ignores, or write a long, well-written comment that engages him or other readers—and displays your knowledge about Guest Blogging’s positive qualities.
The same is true for any blogger. Personally, I use BuzzSumo to find popular blog posts and comment. It’s a simple, directed way to get started.
Answer Questions on Quora
Quora is the perfect place to try out your content with almost guaranteed feedback. You have a community of people that are asking specific questions for which you have specific answers. It has a two-fold benefit:
First, you can use Quora to republish old content. Whether you’re looking to spread an article that you’ve already written, or attract some attention with your best work, Quora provides an easy platform to do it. Second, it’s a fantastic way to engage with other people in your industry. If you can answer questions well, people are going to value what you have to say.
These days there are thousands of different newsletters out there. For the handful that you subscribe to, contact the curator and recommend good content they should curate. Eventually you can build a rapport and they’ll mention your stuff without you having to ask.
That doesn’t mean that you should blindly self-promote, but instead actually build a rapport. Suggest quality content and prove your worth as someone knowledgeable about the industry.
Not sure where to start? Here is a fantastic list of Newsletters curated by BufferApp, the spreads across a wide variety of topics.
Above All, Remain Active
Reaching 50,000 visitors won’t happen overnight, but it can happen quickly if you take it seriously. None of these ideas are one-offs, and they each require careful, consistent attention. Create a plan and stick to it—and watch as your site begins to gain the attention it truly deserves.