Top 7 Strategies for Blog Marketing

by Joel Friedlander on July 8, 2013 · 31 comments

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In this series on author blogging, we’ve already discussed how important it is to have a linking strategy, opportunities to get lots of kinds of organic traffic to your blog or website, and what I like to call the holy trinity of blog traffic.

Despite all this, many authors are still missing one essential truth: if you want people to visit your blog—engage with you and your ideas, subscribe, sign up for something and perhaps someday to actually trust you enough to buy something you have to offer—then you have to market your blog.

For most of us, it won’t be enough to simply write great blog articles, to fill up our archives with terrific content. The voice crying in the wilderness may be screeching or it may be beautiful. The point is in the wilderness there’s no one listening.

And the fact is that once you understand exactly what this “marketing” is about, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it.

Why?

Because you enjoy the topic you’re writing about on your blog, or you wouldn’t be doing it. Marketing your blog just means taking that conversation to other readers, different audiences, in more places.

That sounds like more of a good thing to me!

Top 7 Strategies for Marketing Your Author Blog

  1. Blog commenting
    There’s a good reason why commenting on other people’s blogs is often listed first when talking about how to start getting traffic to your own site. Comments are in your voice, express your views, and allow you to introduce yourself to new audiences and create connections with bloggers and other readers directly.

    Look for blogs that already have the readers you’re trying to attract, since those blogs have succeeded at what you’re trying to do. And also look for other bloggers who are about at the same point in their growth as you are. These peers will grow along with you, creating a great marketing network.

    Make substantive comments that really advance the discussion. It’s fine to disagree with the blogger, as long as you have a rational point of view, an openness to discussion, and a respect for other people’s viewpoints.

    Keep doing this and you’ll soon get on the blogger’s “radar” opening up lots of other opportunities. And you’ll be surprised at how these little links in the comments can turn into rivulets of traffic back to your own blog.

  2. Forum posting
    Group discussion sites keep evolving online, and our marketing should evolve along with them. Why? Because we want to be where the conversations about our topic of interest are taking place, where people are gathering specifically when thinking about this topic.

    Forums are still active online, and making expert comments there that help other posters can enhance your reputation. You also have a marketing opportunity in the signatures forum software allows you to create, so don’t forget to link back to your blog in your signature.

    But now there are also lots of great discussions happening in social media. Active groups with rich social media connections are available on LinkedIn, Goodreads, Google+, and other venues. Locating the right groups for you and contributing valuable content will attract readers who want to see what else you have to say on the subject.

  3. Article marketing
    Although article marketing isn’t as popular as it once was, it’s still a legitimate, free way to get links and traffic for your blog by submitting posts to article sites like ezinearticles.com.

    One great way to utilize article marketing is by taking long blog articles and splitting them up into shorter posts, since the articles that seem to work best on article sites are around 250-350 words. This also gives you a chance to create more headlines on the topic of your article, and headlines are the most important part of these kinds of articles.

    But also consider contributing your articles to sites that aggregate content in your field, or which rely on expert authors for the bulk of their content. These kind of sites often have high readership and can direct lots of traffic your way.

  4. Speaking and teaching
    Even though your blog is an online asset, don’t neglect the outstanding opportunities to build your author platform, including your blog traffic, through speaking and other live events.

    Because these events are usually sponsored by a larger organization, you’ll get prestige and credibility from your association with the event. You’ll also need to find a way to connect people who attend the event with your blog. You might want to have business cards or handouts with a QR code that links to your blog, or offer a freebie that people have to go to your blog to collect.

  5. Guest posting
    Whole books and courses have been written about guest posting, because it’s such a powerful tool in helping to grow a blog, an author platform, a reputation, and a persona.

    Many blogs have submission guidelines for guest authors, and most bloggers are happy to consider articles from legitimate authors within their field.

    Obviously, if you’ve created a connection or established a relationship with the blogger beforehand, it’s going to be much easier to get your article considered for publication.

    When you blog as a guest on someone else’s site, they are “handing you the microphone” along with the responsibility that comes along with it. Make sure you’re very familiar with the content on the blog and the kinds of questions readers ask in the comments. And make sure you hang around to answer questions, and promote the post through your own network. That will make it much more likely you’ll be invited back.

  6. Blog tours
    Many authors associate blog tours with the launch of a book. It’s a great launch strategy, and I consider it a basic marketing tool, whether it’s connected to a new book or not. Maybe you’re just launching a new review service on your blog, or a new PDF you’ve put together.

    A blog tour will give you the opportunity, like guest posting, to meet the readers of other blogs. But in the case of a tour, you’ll travel from one blog to another in quick succession over the period of a week to a month, depending on your pace and stamina.

    You’ll want to concentrate on why your new offering should be interesting to readers at these various sites. You can create excitement with contests, giveaways, and special offers to readers at the tour stops. And take a word of advice: interviews deliver great content but take a lot less time than writing lots and lots of articles.

  7. Blog carnivals
    This is probably the most overlooked form of blog marketing, simply because blog carnivals are not as popular as they were in the early days of blogging. If you can find a blog carnival with good circulation in your field, by all means start submitting your best articles. Set a reminder for yourself so you don’t miss the deadlines.

    Blog carnivals collect articles submitted by bloggers in a specific field, then publish links to all the articles. Sometimes bloggers take turns hosting the carnival, and sometimes the carnival is run by a single blog, like our own Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies.

    Either way, these links contribute to your overall linking strategy giving your blog a bit of authority as well as traffic from people who want to explore your content. It’s all good.

There are bloggers who have grown incredible sites using just one or two of these strategies. Over the course of the last few years, I’ve tried all of them at one time or another, and I can tell you from experience they all work.

“When you find a way to market your blog that’s fun and attracts readers, you’ve “won” at blog marketing.”—Click to Tweet

Which strategies will work for you? Finding out will be a fun and exciting journey. Some will appeal more than others, and that’s fine. Diversifying your efforts ensures that you’re more likely to find things that work and that you enjoy.

Great content effectively presented is the foundation of everything that happens on your blog. But when you find a way to market your blog that’s fun for you, and that attracts readers too, you can really say you’ve “won” at blog marketing.

As we continue the blogging journey, I’ll be treating each of these 7 strategies in more depth. But let me ask you this:

What marketing strategies have worked—or not worked—for you and your blog? Tell me in the comments.


Photo: bigstockphoto.com

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    { 26 comments… read them below or add one }

    Steve Vernon July 8, 2013 at 4:03 am

    All right, so I would have to be ten kinds of stupid not to pay attention to what Joel Friedlander has to say about building a blog audience.

    I’ve just hit my two year anniversary of my own blog site, YOURS IN STORYTELLING, and I’ve gathered 165 followers over that two year stretch. That’s pretty punky figures – but these last couple of months the growth rate has begun to pick up a little bit of momentum.

    Thing to realize that building a blog audience isn’t going to likely happen overnight. We’re just chucking our pebbles into the mighty waters of the deep blue internet, hoping that the ripples managed to connect and inter-connect in fine intriguing Ven/Zen patterns.

    Or – as my grandfather used to tell it…

    “See, there was this old bull sitting up on a high grassy hill with a young bull, looking down at a herd of hot-looking cows.”

    (hey, when you’re a bull, every cow looks hot)

    “Let’s run down there and blog the heck out of one of those fine hot cows,” the young bull said.

    The old bull just snorted derisively.

    (and really, is there any other way to snort???)

    “Let’s walk down,” the old bull said. “And we can blog the heck out of ALL of those fine hot cows.”

    If my comment has offended any bulls, cows or bovines of any variety out there in the inter-ether, I heartily apologize.

    Yours in storytelling,
    Steve Vernon

    Reply

    Carol Brill July 8, 2013 at 4:17 am

    so Steve, you’re saying it’s a marathon not a sprint :)

    Joel, I really appreciate simple steps like this, and yet, as I read each one, my stretched-too-thin self says, Yikes! 7!!! How do I find time for all these??

    Reply

    Steve Vernon July 8, 2013 at 5:12 am

    One step at a time is usually the best way to go.

    Inspirational advice like this just gives you a target to aim for. If you can’t do all seven you accomplish one step on the first week, another step on the second week – and then on the third week maybe you go back and do the first two steps twice.

    Take a page from the book of manly ethics. Aim at the bullseye, (durn it, we’re back with the bulls again), chuck your best dart, and then even if you miss strike a manly pose and say “Dang, don’t I look good?”

    If all else fails, you can always say the sun was in your eyes.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 8, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Easy, Carol, here’s how: just pick one, give it a try, see how you like it, what results you get, and whether it fits easily into the rest of your regular tasks. Then try another. Now, that’s not overwhelming, even for people already stretched-too-thin, is it?

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus July 8, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Steve — I’m not convinced that the number of followers is as important as the number of visitors.

    My http://www.BookMakingBlog.com has just 91 followers, but recent traffic has been in the 1,000 – 1,200 people-per-day range. I assume that many (or most) of them are regulars who have just not bothered to ‘sign up’ as followers.

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.CreateBetterBooks.com

    Reply

    Steve Vernon July 8, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    That’s a good point, Michael – but frankly, I’m nowhere close to those sort of numbers. Best day I’ve had has been in the 200 visitors a day mark. I’ve got a long way to go.

    But what you point out makes sense for ALL aspects of indie publishing.

    I used to work in a New Age Bookstore here in Halifax. We had a lot of dedicated followers that would come at least once a week – but we made our REAL money when the cruise ships were in port and we got a whole lot more casual walk-thru traffic. Those folks who wander in, buy something and then never come back – just like the visitors who check out your blog but don’t necessarily follow it.

    A writer needs a dedicated fan base – but a writer ALSO needs that healthy flow of casual come-by-chance readers who help to inflate his sales figures far beyond the usual fan base.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 8, 2013 at 10:55 am

    No offense, Steve, and yes, it does take time. The idea here is that many fine writers blog and blog and blog and wonder why they don’t have more traffic, more followers, etc. At some point they either give up or try to figure this stuff out. This post is intended as a high-level look at a whole variety of things bloggers can do to get more for all the work they’re putting in. And cows, sure why not? Storytelling is the basis of literature and we seem to be wired to respond to stories, so thanks for telling one here.

    Reply

    Steve Vernon July 8, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    My pleasure, Joel.

    Just have you know that THE BOOK DESIGNER is one of the first blogs I look at in the morning – not only because I KNOW that you’ll have something interesting and informative to read – but ALSO because you get your blog notice out long before the crack of crow-piss. You sir, definitely practice what you preach.

    And that evolution of a blogger illustration at the top of the page is classic – even though the dude in the wife-beater looks just a little bit too much like a younger buffer version of me.

    Reply

    chris July 8, 2013 at 6:23 am

    DO NOT SUBMIT TO GENERIC ARTICLE DIRECTORIES!

    Google is actively reducing the weigh of these sites. See Google Panda and Google Penguin updates. This means they aren’t listing articles on those sites high up in the SERP’s. Plus, they are devaluing sites that have articles / links from those generic article directories. Not all, but some.

    If you really want to dig into that, check out this page;
    http://fruition.net/sem/google-updates

    If you find a site that collects articles in your field, then that makes sense to work on those. But don’t spend your time spinning your content for those article directories.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 8, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Hi Chris, and thanks for the info. I think it’s true that you can no longer get a site up and promote it almost exclusively by uploading articles to article sites to get ranking, traffic, and authority. Google has pretty much killed that strategy, and good riddance.

    However, that doesn’t mean that using articles to market is a bad or ineffective idea. As part of a larger blog marketing plan, I think for the right subjects it still works well. And as I say in the post, for me article marketing has spread far beyond the article directories to specialty sites that publish content from lots of authors. Steve Vernon, for example, posts to Kobo Writing Life, and I consider that a form of article marketing.

    Reply

    Linton Robinson July 8, 2013 at 9:30 am

    One concern this whole approach points up to me is something common in book marketing. I guess I could call it “infinite regression of marketing”.
    You’ve got a book. And have to market it.
    So you do a blog and a Facebook page.
    So now you have to market those.
    So you are running around writing articles and doing appearances and paying fees to promote your blog and facebook page. Which may or may not increase your book sales.
    And the further you take that, the more degrees of separation you find from what you are doing and the original goal of selling your book.

    It’s possible to just see a blog not as an identity and main activity, but as a place to hang information in order to link to it on Twitter and FB and mailings and all that. A direct connection between what you are doing/writing and the promotion of your book.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 8, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Linton, thanks for your comment. My own approach is a little different, and that may be because I’m a nonfiction writer, but I don’t start with the idea “You’ve got a book. And have to market it.”

    Instead, I’m looking at the book as only one expression of whatever it is I’m writing about, and not always the most important expression, or the one with the greatest potential to grow a community or turn a profit.

    But I really like the idea that your blog can provide a “direct connection between what you are writing about and the promotion of your book.”

    Reply

    Frances Caballo July 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Of course step #8 would be using social media to introduce each blog post to a growing audience. As always, this is a great post, Joel. Thanks!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 10, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Thanks for the great addition, Frances.

    Reply

    Danielle L. Davis July 8, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Although this is my first time posting here, I’ve been reading voraciously over the past several weeks. I know, that’s not a long time. I’m very appreciative of the information contained here. I especially like the ebook cover awards. Very helpful. My blog is in its infancy at less than a month old. I’m trying to learn as much as possible, but as someone else indicated, time is limited. I’ve started with #1 because that’s the most natural thing to do. I’ve never heard of blog carnivals, but I’ll add that to my list of things to look into. Joel, thanks for the wealth of information you’re providing here.

    Reply

    Danielle L. Davis July 8, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I just saw the Blog Carnival link along the right side of the page!

    Reply

    Jean Lawrance July 9, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Guest posting and blogs commenting both are very helpful strategies for blog marketing. Especially guest posting is very effective way to promote any blog or website but there are lots of technicalities in guest posting and we can say that it is not very easy thing to do. However its importance is very high. You all shared tips are essential for blog marketing because blog creation is not a purpose the purpose of blogging is to get business and to advertise and market any blog or website.

    Reply

    Greg July 9, 2013 at 12:31 am

    I’ve got two websites and they both have different amounts of traffic. My first website, for ESL teachers, was started last July. I didn’t start the blog until 3 to 4 months after that, and only put up a few posts. I got back into it in January by posting everyday. It now gets about 150 to 200 people each day.

    My second website, mainly about writing, was started in March of this year. I followed many of the suggestions listed above, especially the commenting on blogs and forums. On average, that site now gets more traffic than the other. It’s not as much of a niche market as the other, which could explain it, but I think it’s because I’ve been more proactive in marketing the site. Still, I’ve got a long way to go!

    The main thing I’ve discovered is that by visiting similar blogs you find a lot of great info, much more than you would by simply sticking to your own site and writing all the time. This in turn makes your own writing better, and more applicable to your visitors.

    Reply

    SI_Cohen July 12, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Hi,
    I really appreciate your posts. They are of great help. I published 3 books in the past 2 years and I have to admit that because I have too little time to dedicate for promoting them, I´ve been having very little sells.
    I wish there was a magic formula.
    What do you think people prefer to see when one promote books, an author figure that talks to them or a sense of community where they can participate?
    Thanks again

    Reply

    Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings August 11, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I’ve always shied away from linky parties/blog carnivals, because etiquette requires that you always visit 1 or 2 blogs from the party and comment. I didn’t always have time for that, so I didn’t join in very often. But it also wasn’t a strategic part of my marketing plan either. I think I’ll give it another shot!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Kalyn,

    I guess blog carnivals have changed over the years, the one I’ve been running here has never had a requirement like that, although I know a lot of readers and submitters visit the blogs in the carnival. Self-Publishing: The Carnival of the Indies.

    Reply

    Ronnie September 24, 2013 at 3:01 am

    Thank you very much, these above mentioned tips are really helpful. Thanks for sharing such useful information. Cheers!

    Reply

    Zach @ NY marketing firm December 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Great article! I also wanted to add the use of social media websites. Especially, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter. Where you can link your Google Plus profile with your blog through meta tags. So once a page/content has been created/posted in your blog, it will display in Google search results with your Google Plus Profile name and image.

    Reply

    Dinesh Ramakrishnan January 25, 2014 at 4:05 am

    Promoting our blog is very tough. It can’t be done over night. I prefer blog commenting to guest post. If we do friendship with other bloggers based on our niche, then guest posting will enhance blog marketing easily. Thanks for sharing such a useful tip.

    Reply

    emer martin May 24, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    I’m a published author. Always had big publishers but times are a changing and big publishers are collapsing and ignoring literature in favor of genre. So I recently have ventured into the independent route. It’s been an eye opener and certainly not easy especially in the promotion of my work. Everyone told me I need a blog and could hook it up to Goodreads. Hooking your blog up to Goodreads increases the traffic surely. But what is a good forum for an author blog? Is Tumblr any good. I really don’t have too much time and don’t want to do too much writing for free. Have bills to pay. So is it a matter of just putting up a website or should I go for an already established forum?

    Reply

    Moulton Mayers August 23, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    The massive flood of people writing books today has changed the dynamic of book marketing: There appear to be too many books chasing too few book buyers–and the statistics seem to bear this out; accordingly, writers who are serious about their craft are going to have to put out not only high quality writing on the market, but also a tremendous amount of effort to market their books. What is happening now is a quaint paradox: There are thousands of trashy books being put out every year, and the amateurish flavor is quite palpable; however, the writers are master marketing and have all the bells and whistles and gizmos that there are out there. And from the looks of things, they appear to be raking it in.

    In view of this rank high jacking of the literary industry by trashy amateurs, it is becoming increasing obvious that the marketing emphasis is the real wave of the future for all writers. Additionally, as society waxes more and more “trashified”, matters such as editing and grammatical correctness are slowly being swept way under the carpet: This catastrophe is a sad and surreal one. As society grinds into finer and finer powder as the moral decay process expands, a picturesque new age is slowly but surely unfolding in the literary industry; and only those who can see in the distance will survive. The tsunami of surprise and shock will wash not a few away.

    The world is changing much faster than most writers are keen to believe, and the literary industry is swaging in all directions. Even books put out some of the top publishing houses today reflect salient editing issues. The take away here is that writers are going to have market their books much more aggressively than ever in order to stay afloat, and arm chair writing will only be affordable by writers whose parents have “old money” It has gotten to the point now where the dog that barks the loudest sells the most books; and in the not too distant future, there is going to be a lot of barking by writers–out lout!

    Reply

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