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.