Do you know why your content marketing campaign is going to fail? It’s not because you can’t write great content… it’s actually because you don’t know how to promote it.
You can learn how to write great content, but if no one reads your content and links to it, there’s no point in putting it out there.
People will tell you that it is easy to promote great content through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which is true to some extent, but in most cases it isn’t.
See, it’s easy to build a Twitter following around sexy topics like Internet marketing, and web design. But it is really hard to build a strong social following on topics like dog food, auto insurance, mortgages, credit cards… and all of the other boring topics out there.
So how do you promote your content if you have a boring topic like dog food? Well first off, make sure there are 5 good blog posts on your blog. Once you have that, just follow these steps:
Step# 1: Create a list of bloggers, website owners, and twitter users
No matter what industry you are in, there are bloggers, website owners, and twitter users that all talk about it. For example if you are in the dog food industry, there may not be too many dog food blogs, but there are thousands of dog blogs and millions of pet blogs. Same with websites, there will be millions of pet related websites and thousands of Twitter users who like tweeting about their dog.
It will take a while to create a comprehensive list, but it is worth it. Here is how I recommend you build your list:
- Your list should contain at least 200 blogs, 200 websites, and 200 twitter users.
- Make sure no one on your list sells products or services. For example it would be hard to get an ecommerce site to link to you.
- Your list should only contain sites or Twitter users who are active. If you notice a website hasn’t been updated in over a year or a Twitter user hasn’t tweeted in the last week, don’t bother adding them to your list.
- It can take a while to create a good list, but through services like oDesk you should be able to get it all done for under $100.
- Whether you create your list or you hire someone on oDesk, make sure it contains their full name, website URL, name of their website, and email address.
Step #2: Become a guest author
Now that you have a list of 200 blogs, you need to start emailing them to see if they will accept a guest post from you.
Here is the template I tend to use:
Subject: you should blog about [insert your guest blog post topic]
[insert their first name], as an avid reader of [insert their site name] I would love to read about [insert guest blog post topic]… and I think your other readers would as well.
Your content on [insert existing post from their website #1, insert existing post from their website #2, and insert existing post from their website #3] are great, but I think you can tie it all together by blogging on [insert guest blog post topic].
I know you are probably busy and won’t blog on it so I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. Â How about I write it for you? Don’t worry, I’m a great blogger and have written posts such asÂ [insert blog post post URL #1] and [insert blog post URL #2].
Let me know if you are interested, I already know your blogging style, plus I understand what your readers love… as I am one.
Look forward to hearing from you,
[insert your name]
Guest posting will drive traffic back to your blog and help you gain readers. You just have to make sure you link back to your blog in your author byline or within the blog post when it makes sense.
Step #3: Link out to bloggers
Hopefully by now you’ve written at least 2 or 3 guest posts, which means you should have some new readers. So when you write new blog posts it should gain some traction, hopefully a few tweets and Facebook shares.
Alright, so now you are ready to write a new blog post. Hopefully within this post you can link out to a few of the other blogs within your space. For example, you could write a blog post titled “101 Resources For You and Your K9” and within that post you can link to good articles that you find on other peoples’ site.
Once you have the post up you’ll want to manually email all of the individuals that you link out and ask them to share your post on the social web as well as tell them to share it with their blog readers.
In addition to that email you should head to StumbleUpon Paid Discovery and send $100 worth of traffic to your blog post. This way your post will get over 1000 visitors and those 101 sites you linked out to will see you as a referrer within their analytics reports. This will help increase your odds of getting linked to by other bloggers as well as increase your odds of getting more social shares.
Step #4: Ask for tweets
You have content on your blog, but do you have a ton of tweets? Social signals help boost rankings so the more tweets you can get the better off you are.
So how do you get these tweets? You could wait for them to happen naturally, but as you already know, that probably won’t happen. So why not solicit them?
You can’t do this every time you publish a blog post, but every time you write a great one, why not direct message your list of 200 Twitter users and in a 140 characters ask them nicely to tweet your link out.
Here is the direct message I use:
I would love it if you could tweet [insert link] to your followers. Let me know if you need a tweet.
For every 100 Twitter users I direct message, I tend to get 3 to 8 users to tweet my link.
Step #5: Email website owners
The more traffic you get to your blog, the better off you are. So just like you emailed the bloggers on your list above, you also want to email website owners to see if you can get them to link to your blog.
You can use one of these email templates to solicit a link. My favorite is:
Subject:Â [insert first name of website owner], i think i’m in love with you
Hopefully I didn’t freak you out by my subject line, but I’m really in love with you. Don’t worry, it’s not in a creepy way, mostly I’m in love with your websiteÂ [insert their website name].
You probably get tons of people everyday whom are in love withÂ [insert website name], so I won’t bore you with my reasons. Instead I thought I could show some appreciate by giving you some feedback on how you can improve your website.
- Insert suggestion #1
- Insert suggestion #2
And if you are wondering how you can repay your biggest fan, feel free to link to my websiteÂ [insert URL].
Ah… just kidding, you’ve already done enough for me by makingÂ [insert their website name]Â so awesome!
[insert your name]
Step #6: Create a top 100 list
The next step for you is to write a blog post that contains the top 100 blogs in your space. You can pick blogs from your list of 200 that you collected in step 1, but you don’t want to limit it to that list. Add anyone that should be on it.
Once you have the blog post all written, you need to find a web designer to help create a badge. The badge should say something like “Top 100 [insert the category of the blog] blog”. You also want to create an embed code so that people who are on that list can easily place a badge on their blog.
A good example of this is the Power 150 list by AdAge and how bloggers like Top Rank Blog place the badge within their sidebar.
Now to increase your odds of getting bloggers to embed the badge on their site, buy traffic from the StumbleUpon Paid Discovery network. This will boost your views on that post, which will cause more people to click on the links, which will cause people to see your site in their analytics reports. And then on top of that you’ll want to email the blogs in the list and share with them the badge code.
Step #7: Create a blogroll
I know people say reciprocal link building is dead, but you aren’t creating a blogroll for SEO purposes. You are creating one so you can link to other bloggers in your space who also have blogrolls.
Once you add a handful of sites to your blogroll, you want to email them and let them know. If they add you to their blogroll within 7 days, keep them on your blogroll… if not replace them with another blog. Repeat this whole process until you have a handful of sites that are linking to you within their blogroll.
Again, don’t worry about the SEO benefit from a blogroll, create a blogroll to gain traffic from other related blogs. In the long run this will help you gain more readers.
Step #8: Leave comments
It’s a tedious task to leave comments on other people’s blog, but it is a necessary evil. Add of all the blogs in your space to a feed reader and once a day comment on at least 5 new blog posts.
Your comments should be thorough, and shouldn’t be spammy or self-promoting. Instead you should just try to provide valuable input that benefits other people.
Also when you leave comments, use your real name and blog URL. This way if people like what you have to say, they’ll click on your name and end up on your blog. This is a great way to gain readers… and it is actually the approach Pete Cashmore used to help gain his first few readers for Mashable.
Step #9: If all else fails, buy readers
Even if you do all of the things above, there isn’t a guarantee that you’re blog will be popular. You should be able to get tens of thousands of readers through the methods above, but getting hundreds of thousands is a much harder task.
What you can do is find other popular blogs in your space and pay them to blog about your blog and how great it is. When they write the blog post make sure you have them tell their readers to subscribe to your RSS feed.
I used that exact approach with Quick Sprout and when I launched it I had over 1000 RSS subscribers within 3 days. Then when I published a blog post I had a decent sized audience, which is how I naturally got comments and link backs.
When buying blog posts from other bloggers, feel free to have them nofollow the links to you as you don’t want to get penalized for “buying links”.
If you do the above steps you should have enough readers coming to your blog. When you publish content, it will get the attention it needs so that you will naturally get back links.
Just make sure you continually rinse and repeat the steps above… as many of the methods such as guest posting can be used on a regular basis. Within 6 months of doing everything above, you should have a popular blog that gets at least 10,000 monthly visitors if not well over 25,000 visitors.
Do you know of any other ways you can market your content?