You’ve decided to start blogging to get some marketing traction before your next book comes out. If you’re a nonfiction author, or a fiction author who already has a readership, that’s an excellent idea.
In fact, I think it’s about the best thing you can do for yourself to make sure that your books and your ideas reach a wide audience, and that you have a chance to be compensated for all the work you’ve put into publishing.
After all, if you can make your books (and other products and services) pay, you’ll do more, right? And being able to continue will allow you to help more people? See, it’s a win-win if you can make this work.
What? I Have to Market the Blog, Too?
Even when I get authors to buy into the idea I just stated, they look a bit confused. Even authors who have been blogging for years sometimes have never thought of this one essential truth:
If you don’t market your blog, how will anyone know it’s there?
(And yes, “marketing-haters,” here’s one more task you think you can get away from if you just ignore. But I’m here to tell you that’s just not true.
Besides, marketing your blog will give you great market intelligence that will be absolutely crucial when it comes to launch your books.
In fact, there are a lot of great things you can get from marketing your blog:
- Finding readers—you’ll need to know what your readers are reading, where they are hanging out
- Identifying problems—every problem your readers are having is an opportunity for you
- Networking—it takes a village to launch a book, and getting to know your niche is essential
- List building—you probably already know that turning your blogging and publishing into a sustainable business depends on building an email list
- Earning passive income—getting more readers means you can make money from ads and affiliate sales, automatically
- Gaining trust and authority—getting known in your field is vital to building preeminence
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. And the idea is that it’s not enough to just write a great blog. If you want to reap the benefits of all that hard work, you have to market the blog, too.
The Beginning of Blog Marketing
I could fill a book (watch for it) with practical information on how to market your blog.
But when I talk to authors about how to get started, the first question I ask them is this:
“If I asked, could you tell me the top 5 or top 10 blogs in your field?”
Every blogger who has built a readership can answer, “Yes, you bet I can!” to this question. Authors? Not so much.
And inevitably, the next question is, “Well, how do I find that out?”
And it’s a good question. How do you identify the top blogs in your niche, category, or genre? The ones that ir really makes sense to follow, connect to, the ones who have already solved the problem you are now faced with?
To help you answer that, here are my 5 favorite tools for analyzing blogs I visit. To be clear, these aren’t the only things to take into account. But when you’re looking at a blog you’ve never seen before, this is where you can start.
My Top 5 Tools for Evaluating Blogs
- Alexa Rank—There are no perfect measurements of blog traffic that I’ve found, but the rankings from Alexa.com are the closest to a standard. You can surf over to their site and input a domain name, and Alexa will return a ranking number (smaller is better) and lots of other information on the site. These numbers are good for comparison, and should be taken with some skepticism but, by and large, they do seem to be accurate.
- Google page rank—You can use sites like http://www.page-rank-calculator.com/ to check a site’s page rank, or you can install a browser plugin like WebRankSEO for Google Chrome and get the Alexa rank, page rank, and a bunch of other metrics instantly right in your browser. Page rank is another good comparison tool, although very new sites will likely have no page rank for a few months after launch.
- Twitter followers—Twitter’s @addresses are becoming a de facto standard for identifying people in the social space. Virtually every blogger is on Twitter, so it’s easy to find out what kind of platform they have there.
- Alltop—This is a highly selective list of the top blogs in specific categories. Because each entry is hand selected and vetted by actual real live people, inclusion in Alltop conveys a good deal of authority for the blogs included.
- Blog metrics—Visiting the blog, there are some very important things you can see from a quick inspection. The ones I pay most attention to are:
- Post frequency—when were the last few posts, and how often does the blogger post new content? More active and more current blogs are better candidates for networking.
- Comments—are readers engaging with the content, talking about it in the comments? And when they do, does the blogger respond? You can’t always expect bloggers to answer every question, particularly on older articles, but do they seem to care?
- Subscribers—it’s not always easy to tell how many subscribers a blog has unless they tell you, and it’s impossible to know how big their email list is, because most people guard that kind of information. But what I’m looking for is whether they have sign ups, and how actively they seem to be encouraging people to sign up. Offering free downloads, courses, or bonuses in exchange for a subscription will tell you that the blogger is serious about building a list.
Armed with intelligence like this, you’ll soon find out who are the leaders in your field, and which ones are responsive, active bloggers with a real audience.
When it comes time for you to start actively marketing your own blog, submitting guest articles, doing a virtual book tour, or just about any other marketing you’ll be doing in the future, you’ll be doing it with the help of the bloggers you’ve first identified using these kinds of metrics.
For more on blog marketing, stay tuned.
Do you have questions about marketing your own blog? Leave them in the comments and I bet we can help.