I've noticed that many of you hate to toot your own horn.
Marketing your blog, promoting your posts, and advertising ranks right up there with Congress, mowing the grass, and eating barley.
The problem is that you need readers – lot's of them. Readers create pageviews for advertising. Readers retweet and follow you. Readers comment on your posts. Since only 1% of readers actively engage, you need a healthy pipeline of them to keep your blog moving forward.
You can't get these readers by hoping for them. Friend, you gotta go out there and get them.
The Good News Is That You Don't Have to Be a Jerk
There are two schools of thought in the online marketing world. On one side, you have the Internet marketing sharks that would sell ads on their mom's butt to make a buck. They don't mind screaming and hollering for traffic. On the other side, you have the Kumbaya idealists who believe good intentions make for the best marketing strategy.
Both ultimately fail.
Fortunately, there are options for those who want to aggressively grow their reader base without feeling like a sleazeball.
I've compiled a few proven winners:
Find New Audiences
Writing and getting your posts published on other blogs attracts new readers to your blog. The advantage of guest blogging is that the host blog "vouches" for your credibility. Guest blogging has been the #1 source of new readers to Pushing Social by far.
YouTube, Slideshare, and Scribd attract large audiences hungry for new information. People visit these sites to quickly search presentations for research and case studies. You can reach this audience by turning your popular posts into slide shows and uploading them to Slideshare or Scribd. Add keywords to the title and description, and you'll get the SEO benefit from your new slideshow. Don't forget to put your blog's web address in the description to lead viewers back to your blog.
It's shockingly easy to turn your posts into podcasts. All you need is a microphone, free audio recording software, and an iTunes account. Read your blog post into the microphone. Use the audio recording software to export your podcast, and then upload to iTunes.
Convert your post into a slideshow, hook up a microphone, and talk the reader through your content. Now you have your own video that you can upload to YouTube. YouTube's massive audience will provide a steady stream of interested readers to your blog.
For many blogs, Twitter is an excellent source of traffic. But make sure to observe these "anti-sleaze rules."
Share First – Promote Second
As a rule, share other people's stuff before you promote your own. This shouldn't be too difficult to do. After you've built up some goodwill, then feel free to drive traffic to your posts.
Tweet 2–3 Times a Day
Twitter users jump on at different times of day. I normally satisfy my Twitter addiction around lunch time. Schedule your promotional tweets to go out 2 or 3 times a day. My testing shows that early morning, lunch, and early evening works best for me. Run your own tests to find the sweet spot for your audience.
Tweet Old Posts
You can reignite interest in old posts by regularly tweeting them out. WordPress users can automate this process by installing the Tweet Old Post plugin.
Laura Click, my friend and guest poster extraordinaire, religiously thanks every single retweeter of her posts. Aside from being a classy thing to do, it's also an unobtrusive way to keep her posts front and center throughout the day. Steal this technique – it works.
Add a Little Extra
Promote your post to your Facebook audience with a little commentary about the post. Stick around your wall to answer any questions, and thank people for likes.
Complement your Facebook link with a few questions. Ask your audience to read your post and offer their opinions. Encourage someone to play the role of devil's advocate.
It's a rule of thumb that Facebook users hate blatant promotion, so keep your efforts to one (maybe 2) useful links a day.
Respectfully Knock on Doors
Ask Friends to Share
Notice I said friends, not influencers. Friends are people who you've cultivated a relationship with. You have a give, take, and share relationship. If you are friends with an influencer, then ask them to share your post. Don't get pushy or snippy. Simply ask and leave it at that.
Ask Your Readers to Share
It seems like the "Please RT" addition has fallen out of favor, but you should test to see if it will work for you. The old adage "it can't hurt to ask" applies here. In addition, explicitly ask your readers to share your post from your blog post.
Easy Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Get Religious about SEO
SEO isn't optional for serious bloggers. Get educated. Create a ritual for search optimizing every post. This means thinking about how to "spoon feed" your posts to the search engines, writing cornerstone pages, and researching a list of keywords. I highly recommend using Copyblogger Media's Scribe plugin. It makes picking keywords and optimizing your blog posts a snap.
Pay Attention to the Little Things
It's amazing how little changes can dramatically improve your search rankings. For example, adding your keywords to your picture alt-tags and adding keyword-rich tags and meta keywords to each post are excellent first steps. I use the All-In-One SEO plugin to make sure that I have the little things covered.
Consider SEO a Long-Term Investment
Good SEO delivers free traffic with little to no effort on your part. SEO is one of the few techniques that deliver so much for so little. So make SEO a priority to collect the dividends for years to come. I recommend adding a few SEO blogs like Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal to your weekly reading list to keep SEO top-of-mind.
The Key to Non-Sleazy Promotion
It's simple. Deliver valuable information at the right time to the right reader. Respect your reader's time, and they'll keep you in the "trusted authority" column. Sleazeballs interrupt, intrude, and shout. Folks like you and me would rather inform, recommend, and share.
How about you? How do you promote your blog without feeling like a sleazeball?