So you’ve churn out a stellar blog post. I mean a real whopper, something that will make people say, “wow, I’ve never thought of it like that!” Packed with data, case studies, and references, written with the eloquence of a modern day Shakespeare, your article is going to take the internet by storm, if only it finds a few interested eyeballs.
Hold on there, cowboy or cowgirl, it’s a long road ahead. Not that that’s anything to be afraid of. Once your blog post goes live, here are a few ways you can kickstart its ability to gain some attention.
Email sources. The advantages of citing actual sources and other authorities in a niche are twofold. First, they give your own writing extra authority because anyone can just say something, but once it’s backed up with facts and figures you can show that you’ve done your homework.
The second advantage is that you can actually try and leverage the people and sites you’ve used as sources to help share your article.
If you wrote in an article on top resources for bloggers (please, don’t actually write this article unless you can do something better than the 40,327,811 out there that already exist), you might have mentioned someone’s software that you use on a daily basis.
Once your article goes live, send the company an email and/or tweet at them, letting them know you’re a fan and saying you mentioned them in your latest post. At the end, politely ask that they consider sharing the article with their own audience if they enjoyed it.
Make friends with the big dogs, even when they seem out of reach. Every big content marketer whose blog posts now get 1,000+ shares each week started out where you are. They were grinding when no one paid attention and they recognize the struggle.
If you can offer them some sort of help in their business, if you can consistently network and show them that you ask smart questions in their comment sections, or that the posts of yours that you’re tweeting show that you’re putting in the time and effort and aren’t going anywhere, they’ll notice.
When the time comes, it might just not be too much of a stretch for you to reach out and ask if they might give some super cool thing you’ve written a nudge. That’s pretty cool (so make it happen!).
Of course, you should also be making sure that you give your own channels a mega nudge on your own.
Post to Facebook, schedule several tweets to go out over a few days using tweetdeck, post images to tumblr that link back to your content, take advantage of Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn groups, as these can be deceptively good places to get your content seen by those who would find them relevant.
More sensitive communities, like Reddit and Inbound, can also be great places to share, but will require some more finesse.
Whatever your promotional tactics, keep them constantly evolving, and don’t be afraid of trying something that might not work, because it just might be a gold mine for you.
One of the best ways to learn anything in the internet marketing world is to get out there and take action. There is absolutely no substitute for finding out what works for your exact business model and personality than by experimenting and tweaking what you focus on based upon your results.
Having said that, the second best way to learn has to be from other companies and individuals who have been through the phase you’re at already, and have been kind enough to package their own lessons into easily consumed content for you.
Often, this comes in the form of a blog, where you can regularly get updated on whatever the topic that person or company has expertise in. For entrepreneurs, here are 4 that are especially awesome and go out of their way to deliver constant value to readers.
1. The Groove Blog
Honestly, this is one of the best transparency blogs around for entrepreneurs. Run by Groove CEO Alex Turnbull, the blog follows this customer support startup every step of the way as they journey to $500k per month in recurring revenue.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of insights to be learned from a company well on their way to hitting those ambitious numbers. The nice thing is that they share a lot of things that didn’t work as well, and provide the data to back up anything they say or recommend.
2. The Daily Egg
Crazy Egg is a product all about data, so it’s not surprising that the research that goes into posts on the Daily Egg (CE’s blog) are packed with awesome research. Plus, they have a great track record of securing some awesome guest posters, which help to flesh out the blog as an authority on a wider range of subjects.
As if all of that weren’t enough, the blog is one of Neil Patel’s projects. If you don’t know Neil, he’s one of the most prolific writers and content marketers around, and just about everything he touches is gold.
3. Swift Branding
A new player on the scene, Swift Branding is run by George Karboulonis over in Greece, and it’s got a good thing going for it right now. The blog does a great job of committing to providing as any useful resources, freebies, and guides for IM’ers as possible.
While some of the content is more general or entry level, there are some real gems as well, and George seems to have a knack for getting people to share their interesting stories with him in the form of revealing case studies.
Finally, Copyblogger. Copyblogger has been around for a long time, and even has a now-rebranded media branch you can find at rainmaker.fm
While CB’s original focus was, no surprises here, copywriting, the team have really branched out over the last few years and broadened their topic reach without any falloff in quality.
Since Google is cracking down on website scraping (even though Google is the biggest website scraper out there giving viewers condensed content scraped from other sites right in a box at the top of SERPs), the ‘how to’ article has become a bit of a taboo. In reality, unless you have an entire site built around ‘how to’ articles (i.e. eHow, Yahoo Answers and Instructibles, etc.), you are fine to go ahead and continue using this click-heavy format:
– Introduce the problem
– Present the benefits of your solution
– List the steps
– Provide detail
– Wrap it up and call to action
The Right Way to Write a How To
In fact, since everyone else is scared to write a ‘how to,’ you’ll be one step ahead of the competition. Just make sure you do it correctly, that is to say, in the following order:
1. Introduce the Problem You are Solving. Obviously, you want your reader to know that they are in the right place to solve their problem and that you are the person that has the solution. Make the reader understand that even if they don’t realize they have this problem, they likely do or will, and thus, need to read the solution.
2. Present the Benefits of Your Solution. Why is your solution better than anyone else’s solution? Why should the reader keep reading? Are you going to solve the problem in the blog or are you going to provide half the steps and then a free eBook download at the end with a comprehensive look at the solution? Are there going to be videos? Is this a multi-part blog? Let them know!
3. Give Them the Steps. Your steps should be laid out in a list, a screenshot, a picture, etc. Just give them them the basics and a brief explanation. If you need to, you can get into more detailed paragraphs or chapters on each step in later blogs or an eBook. But laying out the steps in a numbered or bullet list will allow faster-paced readers to skip to the sections they need. Perhaps they have half of the solution and just need the last few steps. Remember, the easier you make it for every single reader that comes to your site, the better it is for you. Cater to the beginner, but also make it easy for the seasoned pro to glean what they need and get on to the next step. Don’t waste anyone’s time and they won’t waste yours.
4. Detail is Key. The detail to your solution is going to be key here. For instance, if you provide a solution without an example, what’s to say that the writer really has life experience solving this problem? They could just be an affiliate for a product spinning content from their associates. Graphics, step-by-step instructions, easy to follow language, all of this falls under detail.
5. Conclusion. Your conclusion is where you wrap up the ‘how to’ and recap the benefits that your reader now possesses. It’s important to never forget your call to action. If you don’t have one specifically and are just writing an informative or authoritative blog, add your contact information and have the reader sign up or contact you for more details. You can also link to other solutions you’ve provided, or have an opt in or email sign up for a newsletter or eBook.
As you can see, there is absolutely no reason to abandon such a highly effective blog format. Google is really just trying to punish ‘how to’ sites at large, not the average internet marketer.
How many times have you read a lame “5 Ways to Improve Your Bottom Line!” title, clicked through, and the been disappointed to find the same old generic, rehashed information on the other side?
If you roll your eyes whenever these titles come up in your Facebook feed or from some marketer’s Twitter account, you’re not alone. Unfortunately for marketers looking to take the easy way out, millions of other people are feeling the same way and are becoming immune to the type of clickbait titles that have dominated marketing communications for way too long now.
In the near future (actually, now), no one is going to be clicking on cheesy, cringe-worthy headlines that mask lackluster, uninspired content. Instead, you should be working to standout with your titles in other ways to help draw people in without misleading them. Of course, step one is to make sure your content is up to par; no great title or thumbnail image can lead to the conversions you’re after if you don’t have great words waiting for readers on the other side. Be valuable, be useful.
Next, consider tossing out additional hyped up adjectives and adverbs for statistics. Many of the most successful content marketing triumphs to pop up in 2015 were case study types which could boast a specific change in a variable in their title.
For example, the popular Groove blog wrote an article with a title along the lines of “How we raised our traffic by 12,267% with zero advertising.” It’s just about as enticing as a marketing blog post title could possibly be because it gives you an exact statistic that you can hold the author to.
By the way, that blog post really is excellent and outlines a bunch of free traffic generation methods that the company used to, no kidding, give an insane multiple-thousand percent increase to their traffic numbers in an impressive amount of time.
You should consider also making your titles platform specific. For example, WordPress has plugins which allow you to display different title and description tags for certain social networks. For example, if you know that Facebook shows only the first 70 characters of a link title and LinkedIn shows 110, you can create custom titles that fit those exact lengths and make the most of you allotted characters on each platform.
Titles which are native (made for) a platform will without a doubt perform better in terms of clickthrough and reader interest. Futhermore, platform specific titles can help you create clever synergies between the titles and preview images shown on each network, which can go a long way toward making your homegrown marketing efforts look more professional and thought out – and that’s never a bad thing!
Basically, titles still need to deliver clickthroughs and intrigue readers, but the way in which they accomplish these goals is going to need to be more genuine and helpful going forward. Working together to eliminate crappy content and titling is just one way to make audiences less skeptical of content marketing, which makes things easier on the rest of us, doesn’t it?
Often, people begin their online marketing efforts as a part time gig, with the transition of moving as soon as possible to fulltime self-employment. Unfortunately, as time goes on, far too many people find themselves exactly where they started out: Coming home from a necessary day job they don’t particularly enjoy, and working on their online marketing for a few hours for a little “extra income.”
While this is a happy medium for some people, many others will become frustrated. Here are a few ways you can change your approach to your online marketing entrepreneurship efforts in order to finally make the transition into working for yourself full time.
1) ‘A few hours’ won’t cut it: Let’s face it, if you went to work for ‘a few hours’ each day, your boss would have a talk with you before long. Think of how long it would take for a business to reach profitability if every employee cut down their 8 or 9 hours to 2 or 3 each day. Somehow, people expect this approach to work in building their own businesses from home. At best, they underestimate the amount of time it will take to compound the effects of a few hours per day into a fulltime income. The people who will break away from this mode don’t shy away from the hustle, and know that they need to essentially be working fulltime hours on their marketing efforts to quickly get them to a livable scale.
2) Get serious about your customers. Many online marketers like to talk about their ‘clients’ or their ‘projects’ but remember that, at its core, the success of your business is a direct result of how well you interact with your customers. ‘The customer is always right’ should apply, because you’re a small business. People find it too easy to get caught up in ‘working for themselves’ and don’t take the time to be respectful and appreciative of everyone who is kind enough to hand them over money for a service or product. Stay humble, even when you’re kicking butt.
3) Get outside of the norm. In your communication channels, consider working on some new angles that are less crowded and also less expensive to engage with (if you go the route of paid advertising). For example, properly working your content into reddit or Stumbleupon can offer a massive return on your time if done correctly. While most marketers are chasing burnt out and overvalued approaches, you’ll be sitting on the secret sauce.
4) Finally, get disciplined. Have a routine for everything. If you’ve got just your evenings to grow a business with, you need to be efficient. This means making a schedule for your tasks and sticking to it. It means working to ensure that tasks don’t drag into others (checking and responding to emails is a big one!). And, above all else, it means testing and drilling down into the actions that are driving the most results, and focusing your time on those.
Remember, if you want to have a business, don’t work on a side project.