When we started our business 16 months ago we decided to use a blog as the central marketing tool for our business. We did it because we didn’t really have any money for advertising and we never really believed that attending networking events would work for us. We placed the blog at the center of our website and only had one commodity on our hands to make it a success….time.
It’s been a long journey but 16 months later we now get 250,000 pageviews to our site per month, in the last year we have brought in over $500,000 in business as a direct result of the blog and the business operates in 2 countries and our content has been picked up all over the world. We’ve largely used social media to promote the blog and grow that audience and today I wanted to share some of those tips with you and even though you might not have a business attached to your blog you’ll hopefully gain some good insights in to what works for business blogging….
1.Get some professional help at the start
We paid a small amount of money to get our blog designed by a professional at the start as well as getting somebody to add in the proper SEO plugins. Since then we haven’t really touched it design wise and have instead focused on the content. If you are serious about blogging or creating a business around your blog then you should invest a small amount of money at the start making it look professional.
2.Integrate Facebook wherever you can
Facebook is the most important social media tool we use in terms of bringing traffic to our site. It accounts for just over 18% of the traffic on our site and the 11,000 odd Facebook likes we have are people who come back to our site on a repeat basis to consume our content. Make it easy to share your content through Facebook and if the content is good enough it will spread like wildfire.
3.Forget about getting traffic from Twitter
Many people get obsessed with Twitter as a social media tool that drives traffic but let me save you lots of time and energy now because it simply does not. Less than 1% of our traffic comes from Twitter on a monthly basis despite some of our stories getting 100s of Retweets. You can certainly share the odd link through Twitter to gain some new readers but it is not the magic formula that you have been looking for.
4.The old blogging tricks still work best
Read many of the great posts on there or on any of the other great blogging advice sites and they’ll give you great advice like to make sure you add catchy titles (probably why you are reading this post in the first place), to write often and to guest post on other blogs. These are old pieces of advice but in a world where people are obsessed with social media and the new tools those are the tools that by far and away work the best. They are the easy wins.
5.Give everything away for free
As a business we sell advice on social media. We also do a very strange thing in that we give that advice away for free on the blog all the time. There is nothing in our heads that we keep for ourselves but instead focus on sharing as much of that knowledge as possible. By giving valuable advice away you make sure that people keep coming back to your blog for more advice and that’s how you build and audience. People are selfish, if they are coming to your blog they want something for free and that is what you will have to offer.
6.Be Social In The Real World
A huge amount of people who read our blog are people that we have met in the real world. Being social online is one thing but forging a social relationship with somebody in the real world is still far more powerful than anything. Try and attend conferences within your niche, meet people with similar interests and if relevant share your blog with them. If you are lucky enough to be able to speak at any events then work your blog in to the presentation and pitch yourself as the person of authority on your given subject.
7.Use rich media content if at all possible
Text is great and it’s an important part of blogging but not everybody is a good writer and even people who can write should try and support their content with rich media content if possible. I think it helps you stand out form the crowd. What do I mean by rich media content? Photos, videos, podcasts, diagrams, slidehows or presentations. The technology is there now for you to post most of these things for free and they’ll push your content out even further to new platforms.
8.RSS is still the dream subscriber
These days you’ll see plenty of ways to subscribe to blogs including email, Twitter and Facebook to name but a few but one stands head and shoulders above all the others for me and it’s the oldest one in the list…RSS. Getting an RSS subscriber is getting somebody who is totally committed to receiving your content every single day. I cherish RSS readers in a way that I would never think about Twitter followers or Facebook likes. The social subscribers are doing it as an impulse but an RSS reader is somebody who wants to get your content every single time you publish it instantly. You should take RSS subscribers over everything else in my opinion.
9.Build A passionate community around your blog
This is by far the hardest point on the whole list and there isn’t really any written rule on how to achieve it. The one thing I think you have to do most is be nice to everybody and reply to as many comments as you physically can. Comments on your blog, comments on Twitter, comments on Facebook or Youtube or wherever the person has left a comment. People fly through the web these days pausing for a second at a time on sites these days so if they are taking time to leave a comment oon your blog then the very least you can do is stop and answer them. Building community take a lot of time but you should never underestimate the power of word of mouth when it comes to your blog or business and a passionate community is just about the most powerful thing around today.
10.Never give people the hard sell through social media
Once you build a community or a large audience for your site the temptation is always there to try and sell to them or to push your products. We never ever write blog posts asking people to use our services. Make no mistake that they can find our services within one click if they are looking for them but we’ll never push them because people can smell the hard sell a mile away and they’ll never go for it and you’ll end up pushing them away instead. The idea with social media is to engage people and have a meaningful conversation with them. That is what works best in the long run.
About the Author: Niall Harbison founded Simply Zesty which is an agency that represents some of the biggest brands around and guides their strategy.
Tying The Knott says
Twitter is just like any social networking / social media websites… it’s what you make of it. If you are attracting followers within your niche based on your tweets, then you have to be doing something right, and certainly people see your tweets before deciding to follow you, and if this is the case why would they not occasionally click links to your blogs / pages / content if it’s something that gets their interest?
I just recently started a new website with a particular niche and much of it is content / article / blog driven, and after incorporating a new twitter account just for this website within two months I have already gained more than a thousand followers and according to my analytics and website reports, on average 27% of my traffic is coming in from twitter…
So, I think as long as you are using twitter effectively and keeping those you follow, those who follow you, and the content you tweet is precisely relevant to your niche, why wouldn’t it work??
Great advice – a good way to link your blogposts to facebook is by using the Networkedblogs app. I do this, and it automatically updates my facebook page whenever I post on the blog, and most of our fans read the blog via facebook.
I just started trying to get traffic to my blog and am using many of the tips outlined in your article. This has been very helpful.
I ended up doing both twitter and facebook and am actuallly getting more leads with twitter, so I believe that it really does depend on your target market. Thanks for a great article.
I think this is one of your best guest posts that you have had in weeks. Reading it I felt honesty speaking to me through every word. Thank you for the Twitter bit. Now I can do what I enjoy doing without feling guilty about not following every bit of Twitter. I always believed in the old school methods, and it gives me great results. Five Star Post 🙂
mark readal says
Thanks for the article and the tips, which were easy to digest. I just had to scroll down and to get the main idea delivered.
I strongly believe in points one, four, five, six and eight. Design is important for pro blogs, but writing valuable content is the basis at all.
I guess people have different experiences with Twitter and the amount of traffic they get from this site. But, I agree Facebook is definitely a key platform to promote your blog. As usual, building a community is the biggest challenge, but time is your friend. Cheers Mark
Maria Pavel says
Great point, I sustain it. Also traffic exchange websites (though – Black Hat – still effectfull) can make a difference. Those were great advices I saw in the post, in the name of everyone – thank you very much for sharing them, I’ll start using them. I also recommend the use of newsletters, you haven’t mentioned them, they’re also a great way of getting age views (kind of easy). Congratulations for writing such a perfect guide. Best regards, Maria.
Terrific post with some real world advice based on experience, many thanks I’m going to take much of it on board and improve my blogs performance
Did you get the figure of 250,000 from Analog or Google Analytics??
If it is Analog, then definitely, the unique visit is quite less
Rammesh Perumal says
Very informative post Niall, many marketers looking for quick fix for traffic but it always needed dedication and great amount of effort to success. Your tips will greatly help those struggling for traffic provided they work for it. Great post Niall, thanks for sharing. I get some ideas from you to improve my site today.
Great post, 250,000 pageviews is really huge, wew!
I agree with No.4
HP van Duuren says
Thanks for your Post,
Simple Tip Nr. 9 about building a passionate community is something that is that you can begin to Experience on my Blog(s) when you visit, because just recently I installed a
>> Recent Comments – widget, so if you want to
‘See Your Name In Lights…….,’
This is your Chance!’ 🙂
Because when you place a Comment your name will automatically
appear, So if you happen to have a Passion for Technology and have Super-Electronic-Gadgets-Know-How this
is your Chance for Fame!
All the Best,
To your Happy – Blogging – Inspiration,
Reg Scheepers says
Isn’t email the oldest one on the list? The thing I don’t like about RSS is, in my experience it seems harder to accurately track subscriber. Certainly you can’t directly engage them if you should one day want to. I recently added email subscription to my blog. I think some people will prefer email to RSS. Not everyone knows how RSS works or what it does, especially non-tech-savvy folks.
Just M humble O.
Vivek Parmar says
Great post with some unique advice. Guest posting + unique design + proper SEO work + keyword research + Title of the post + effective utilization of social media will being a quite good amount of traffic on your blog and do not forget that Unique content will help you a lot in achieving everything
Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs says
I’m so glad to hear your thoughts on Twitter. I regularly feel like a big ol’ loser when it comes to Twitter because I don’t get the traffic from it that others say they do. Now I don’t feel so bad. 🙂
I’m also glad to hear that the old-school ideas still work, like great content, posting often and guest posting. Now I just need to get up to par on the guest posting.
Great article. Thanks!
Tom Pick says
Great post Niall – I wholeheartedly agree with every point except #3 (and #2, to a lesser extent). Not saying you’re wrong, it just depends on where and how people build their most productive social networks. I consistently get 5% to 10% of my total traffic from Twitter, while Facebook barely registers.
But then again, I have an active, targeted professional following on Twitter, while most of my Facebook activity is friends and family.
Either one (or other networks) can work, it just depends on focus.
Carol Tice says
I think every site is different in terms of how social media works for them. I certainly get a lot more than 1% of my traffic through Twitter!
But I love that you mentioned getting social in the real world…don’t know how many times I’ve brought this up to the writers I mentor. Leave your computer. Meet live humans. They give you jobs, not computers!
Great Post Niall.
i thought this was a really great post to read. i’ll check back for new posts by you!
NK Smith says
Nice to see that RSS readers are appreciated 🙂 I’ve always wondered why services like Google Reader aren’t more popular… RSS is the internet equivalent of TiVo for me.
Carolee a.ka. Blogging Biz Mom says
This is pretty much what I always advise my readers and clients, as well as my radio show audience.
You have to want to help people (really, not faking it) , post a catchy title and a blog link on facebook whenever you publish a new post (integrate it with twitter…you never know), always be learning, and keep in touch with reality 🙂
Lucy Thorpe says
I checked out your site because I am sceptical about the “Facebook works better than Twitter” thing. But I see that you really have made it very simple to share on Facebook and I love the way your blog is at the centre of your website.
The design is very appealing and stylish – so much so that I have become a subscriber so I hope you will treat me as well as you suggest!
All the best,
Moise Levi says
I guess it depends what your blog is all about ; Been blogging for years about finance/trading ….. Most traders today keep up via Twitter with their $ sign prior to a ticker symbol.
Now some Hedge Funds are using Twitter to track the “buzz” in certain stocks
Twitter has been a great help
Justin Germino says
I find Twitter only brings about 1% of my site traffic as well, though Facebook brings less traffic than Twitter for me.
i completely agree with the point that forget TWITTER.
i think it has been one of the most hyped and over rated traffic method which works for only few people
Jay Mcleod says
I agree that #9 is the hardest to do, but if you constantly provide great content on the social networks and follow those who have great content, their followers will start to pick your content up as well.
Find All Answers says
Very informative indeed. And the thing with Facebook and Twitter is just so true. I get great amount of traffic from Facebook but in spite of all the tweets and retweets by the readers, the traffic I get from Twitter is very low.
Paul Strikwerda says
Excellent article, Niall! I immediately added a facebook like-button to my blog.
In line with your recommendations, I wanted to stress the importance of social proof. Right now, most of my readers are either regulars, or they find me thanks to teasers on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
As soon as I added a “Popular Post” list to the side bar, my readership started growing.
I also strive to broaden my reader base by asking this question:
What larger group are my readers a part of?
Then I target that group.
For instance -initially, my blog was all about voice-overs because I’m a voice-over professional. Voice-overs are freelancers and that’s why I started writing posts that would appeal to other independent contractors.
The trick is to offer specific information that appeals to a wide audience, with a strong personal touch.
Bash Bosh says
A very good post Niall. I especially like the part with Twitter traffic. Facebook is way more effective and may get you a lot more quality traffic that Twitter.
Very Good article. I am also supporting your views on Twitter.
Octave Shaper says
I do not necessarily agree with the Twitter clause. From my experience and depending on the “type” of business I’ve noticed that one can get more coverage / attention and referrers from Twitter than on Facebook. I think one must first understand what is the market and where are his clients. Not everyone is a fan of Facebook as much as not everyone is a fan of Twitter.
I presume trying to use them both helps in getting the best of both worlds.
Simple and to the point!
Great tips to follow.
Thanks for sharing,
Web Marketing Tips says
i must say that titke’of this is really killing one.
Ajith Edassery says
I liked (3) – I hate the way people misuse twitter with numerous links to own blog (sometimes the same tweet/old tweet reoccurs in a few days time. I doubt if it works.
Web Marketing Tips says
well this is zll about marketing.
And now a days this is auite common.