Top 10 Off-blog Ways to Market Your Blog

Finding an audience and bringing traffic to your blog is one of the greatest challenges faced by any blogger.

There are millions of blogs out there, so why should people come to yours? And how can they if they haven’t even heard of it?

The best way to market your blog is through your own content. You have to be able to:

  1. Differentiate yourself from the masses.
  2. Produce amazingly useful content.
  3. Write great headlines to draw people into the content.

If you can do those three things, you’ll build a great blog, and people will want to read it. But how can you let them know about your blog in the first place? That’s where “off-blog” marketing comes in … finding ways to tap into other audiences and attract them to your blog.

But remember: there’s no use marketing your blog if you don’t already have great content as mentioned above. You don’t want people to come to your blog for the first time, take a look around, and decide to leave immediately. Make them stick.

That said, here’s a list of the Top 10 off-blog ways to market your blog:

1. Guest posts. This is, without a doubt, the best way to market your blog. Write great content, as mentioned above, but do it for other blogs. If you can get a bigger blogger to let you write a guest post (and it doesn’t have to be a huge blog at first), take that chance. And write your absolute best stuff. You want that content to be attention-grabbing, extremely useful, and a way to get people to notice you and want to read more.

I discussed the benefits of guest blogging in detail in a previous post, Why Guest Posting is a Powerful Way to Gain Exposure for your Blog.

2. Comments. This is a common tactic used by bloggers to get a few readers here and there for their blog. It’s not hugely effective, but unfortunately new bloggers don’t have many other options in the beginning, so it’s definitely something to consider and is probably one of the best options for many people. But please remember: just leaving comments with links to your blog is considered spam, and if you’re not deleted or marked as spam, at the very least you’ll annoy people. That’s not good. Leave thoughtful, relevant comments … useful comments are actually best … and let the link in your name be the only link.

3. Social bookmarking. If you get popular on Digg, delicious, reddit, Stumbleupon or the like, you can get huge amounts of traffic. It’s like a drug, actually. But it’s extremely hard to get popular on these sites unless you have a lot of traffic already, so many bloggers network with other bloggers, and in various ways they help each other out on social bookmarking sites. Just be warned that if you and a bunch of other bloggers or friends vote as a group, you could be seen as spamming the service and your user accounts and blog urls can be banned.

4. Carnivals. While blog carnivals are of limited use to bloggers, and usually send limited traffic, that’s usually not a problem for new bloggers. Blog carnivals can be a good tool in the beginning, not only for finding new readers, but for meeting and networking with other bloggers in your niche. (See next item.)

5. Network with other bloggers. This is probably, after guest posting, the best way to market your blog. Seriously. If you don’t take the time to network with other bloggers already, do so now. Email other bloggers in your niche, not to ask for a favor, but just to say hi and to get to know them. Link to their best posts (relevant ones) when you can. Stumble or Digg their posts if you like them. Chat with them once in awhile. Exchange guest posts. Networking with other bloggers is highly valuable in many ways, not the least of which is that they will often link to you more if they know you, and they might even add you to their blogroll.

6. Email bigger blogs. It’s hard for a small blog to get noticed by the bigger ones. While I don’t recommend spamming bigger blogs with your emails every day, once a week or so isn’t too often — just send them a short and polite email letting them know about your best posts, and ask them to share with their readers if they like the post. Many times it won’t work, but sometimes it will. Be sure to only send great posts worthy of a link or mention.

7. Do a favor. This is similar to networking, but a little more specific: do something nice for another blogger without expecting anything in return. This might be linking to them, doing a review, adding them to your blogroll, voting for their best posts on social bookmarking sites, recommending them on LinkedIn, or anything, really. The point is to do something nice, without being asked, and without expecting them to return the favor. Good things will come back to you eventually, trust me — if not from that blogger in particular, from someone, sometime.

8. Forums. It’s considered bad form to paste links into forums — it’s considered spam, actually, and it’s a good way to get banned. But forums can be useful, because they’re usually thriving communities of people with similar interests, and if those interests are related to your blog, you’ve got a lot of potential readers in one place. It’s recommended that you become a participant in the community, and not join just to leave links. Leave thoughtful comments, help other people out, ask questions, answer questions, and when relevant, share a link with people. Not in every post.

9. Build power user profiles. In every social bookmarking site, there are “power users” who have lots of friends and who regularly submit articles that make the popular page. These are good people to make friends with. Even better, if you have the time, is to become one yourself. This takes hours upon hours, but the payoff is great: you have a much more likely chance of submitting a popular story as a power user, and when your articles are submitted, they have a good chance of getting popular. Power user accounts are built by adding friends, participating in the community, submitting great comments, voting for your friends’ stories (if you like them), submitting lots of amazing articles (from other sites, not your own), and generally getting stories to the popular page.

10. Study the best blogs. This is a great way to spend your time: study the most successful blogs, not only in your niche but in others. What are they doing right? What kinds of posts work best? Pay close attention to their headlines, to the opening paragraphs of their posts, to the most powerful tactics, to how they differentiate themselves. Learn from the best, and you’ll soon be one of the best yourself.

About Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta is the author of The Power of Less and the creator and blogger at Zen Habits — one of the top productivity and simplicity blogs on the Internet.

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