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How to blog on a (very small) budget (Part 3 – Marketing your blog)

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advertisingIn the first two parts of this mini-series, we have looked at various methods of saving money while building an effective and professional blog. First we looked at money saving tactics for general hosting and domain names, then in Part 2, we presented some ideas for hosting images and scripts on cheap (often free) and reliable servers to reduce bandwidth and hosting costs for our own sites.

For this final part of the budget blogging series, let’s take a look at methods of marketing and advertising your blog which incur very little (if any) cost.

Overview

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Content is King”, but no matter how good your writing skills or how Digg-worthy your content may be, your efforts will be wasted unless you have an audience to read your blog.

In order to develop an audience for your blog, you need to market it. Persuade people to read your blog, link to your posts, recommend articles to their friends, and so on.

For many, the first marketing technique which springs to mind is advertising. Of course, if you can afford to advertise on some of the world’s most popular blogs and websites in your niche, you will develop a readership very quickly for your blog, but this can be a very expensive task. And if you are blogging on a very small budget, you may only have a few dollars left over for such marketing ventures.

Instead, let me offer an overview of some highly effective blog marketing techniques which will save you a packet in advertising costs and may prove even more useful to your ventures in the long run.

Build relationships with other bloggers (and their readers)

It’s a common misconception that other bloggers and writers in the same niche as yourself are simply competitors who should be avoided. The truth is far from it! By building relationships with other bloggers and the readers of their blogs, you offer valuable contributions to these communities and assist in establishing your own reputation as a blogger.

There are many advantages to building relationships with other bloggers. For example, you can

  • Ask for advice
  • Offer your own advice
  • Reach a wider audience
  • Establish yourself as a complementary source of information

All of these benefits ultimately provide steps to achieving your goal: encouraging more readers to visit your own blog!

handshake

Make valuable comments on their blog posts

Commenting on others’ blogs allows you to offer your own perspective and opinions their articles. But rather than simply express how good (or bad) you found the information in these posts, explain why your opinion is formed.

Valuable comments offer far more to the blog author and their readers than a simple “Great post” type of comment ever could. Instead, offer your own advice or explain the particulars of how the article in question has been useful for you. And make sure you comment regularly on the blogs you read the most rather than simply surf the web adding your comments at random. Building relationships takes time to accomplish; a simgle, random remark will get you nowhere!

Use social media to approach other bloggers

These days, most bloggers use social media outlets to help promote their content and and as a secondary method of interacting with their readers. It can be helpful (and less intimidating to both parties) if you attempt to approach other bloggers through social media channels before sending a long-winded email.

Twitter, Facebook and MyBlogLog are excellent sites of community building for bloggers. Find out which social media channels are used most often by your favorite bloggers and send a message/make friends using this channel.

Even if the bloggers you approach do not respond with inmediate declarations of friendship, it’s more likely that you will be acknowledged and remembered later on.

Send a friendly email

When building relationshops with other bloggers, there is no use asking for favors right away. Instead, a “softly softly” approach is preferred, expecially one which promises mutual benefit for all parties involved.

Make sure your first contact with another blogger is not simply asking a favor! An email requesting a link to another’s blog where no previous relationship has been formed will likely end up in the receiptant’s trash folder. Instead, I have found that it’s far mroe helpful to simply introduce yourself and explain a little about your blog. If you have had contact through social media outlets, don’t forget to mention this so the other blogger remembers who you are. And while most bloggers will not freely admit to this, a little “ego massage” does not go astray so long as it is subtle enough to be believed 🙂

If you don’t receive a response to your email, don’t feel as though your message was unwanted. Popular bloggers tend to receive a lot of emails and are simply unable to respond to them all. You are not being deliberately ignored! Just think to yourself that the blogger may be busy or overloaded with emails and try again at a later date.

Further reading on building relationships with other bloggers

Guest Posting for other blogs in your niche

Writing articles to be published on other blogs is a highly effective method of marketing yourself and your blog. I have discovered many of my favorite blogs after they have guest-posted on other blogs I read regularly, and suspect that many of you reading this post have done the same.

Some blogs actively ask for guest posters. Take a look at the top-right of the header section here on Blogging Tips, for example: Kevin welcomes high quality articles from guest authors, and a by-line with a link to your own blog offers readers the opportunity to read more of your work.

If you would like to write a guest post for another blog in your niche, try sending a succinct email to the author/editor of the blog which explains the following:

  • Who you are
  • Where you blog/write/some other examples of your work
  • A brief outline (including the title) of the post you would like to write
  • Your contact details

Some experts recommend sending the entire post for perusal, though if this is a lengthy post (and consequently a lengthy email) you may not receive a timely response.

Be understanding and do not expect anything in return. If the blog owner/editor likes the concept of your post and considers this worthy of publication, they will likely email you back and ask that you send the entire post for them to read.

Further reading on Guest Posting:

Utilize social media outlets to market your blog and posts

Social media outlets have the potential to drive thousands of new visitors to read your blog and posts. Utilizing social media can he a highly effective (and free) method of marketing your blog. Getting on the front page of Digg or Stumbleupon can have a massive effect on the number of visits you receive who in turn may become subscribers or regular visitors to your site.

social-media

We touched upon social media when discussing methods of building relationships with other bloggers. However, when using social media to market your blog and posts (as opposed to marketing yourself) a different approach is required.

In order to market effectively through social media, you will need to receive a lot of votes for your content. Basically, this means you will need to have a lot of influence to encourage others to vote for your content, or persuade someone who does to help you market instead.

Simply bookmarking your own posts while taking little interest in other aspects of the community will get you nowhere. Utilizing social media for blog marketing means you will need to spend time actually using the service:

  • Find and vote for useful content
  • Network with other members of the site
  • Learn about which types and formats of content receive the most votes, and try to apply this formula to your own pillar articles.

While you will need to spend time and effort in building your blog presense through social media sites, the end-result can be a remarkable readership and many backlinks to your posts.

Further reading on utilizing social media networks to market your posts:

Marketing with eBooks and white-papers

In my personal experience, this has by far been the most effective method of free marketing I have tried!

By compiling a free eBook, report or white paper which is relevant for your niche and distributing this for free, you are creating the potential for viral distribution. Provided your eBook/report features clearly visible accreditation to your site, your paper will provide effective indirect marketing and encourage readers of this content to seek out your site in search of more useful and interesting content.

ebook

Gathering content for your eBook

There are different methods you could use to generate content for your eBook/white paper. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Create a collection of your best blog posts
  • Research some aspect of your niche and write a report about it
  • Elaborate on one of your most popular posts to create a fully featured essay on the subject
  • Write a useful directory of services, sites or features relevant to your niche subject, providing your own commentary and imagery to ensure it is interesting and worthwhile

Writing your eBook/Report

When writing eBooks and reports, you must ensure the format of your publication is one which most readers can actually open. PDF format seems to be the preferred choice, though there are few free PDF editing programs which are worth the effort to download.

My favorite method of creating eBooks is to use OpenOffice.org Writer. This free, open source program allows you to create content in similar fashion to Microsoft Word, and save your finished publication in PDF format. You can download OpenOffice.org Writer for free from the Open Office site.

When actually writing your eBook/report, be sure to use many headings, sub-headings, lists and (possibly) images to break up long sections of content. Such formatting is apparant in the most popular publications of printed press, and is a tactic you should use to ensure your content is easy to read.

Copyright issues

If you are writing a publication for free distribution, you should make it clear from the beginning how you intend for your content to be used.

For this, you will need to apply a copyright policy to your document in order to explain the terms under which your publication is offered.

Many writers choose to distribute content under a Creative Commons license. This ensures your content can be distributed for free while you retain certain rights (and prevent others from claiming your work as their own!).

Using a Creative Commons license means you can specify

  • If you allow derivitive works to be made
  • If you permit others to profit from your work
  • How authorship should be attributed

To find out which version of the Creative Commons license is the best solution for you, visit the Creative Commons website and choose your specifications.

Distributing your publication

In order to distribute your eBook or report, you will need to host this online to allow others to download it. Scribd is an excellent and reliable host for your eBooks and publications which I have recently discovered (I wish I had known about this earlier as it would have saved me a fortune in hosting costs!). Alternatively you could make use of other free hosting solutions as discussed in the previous installment of this series.

Once you have uploaded your publication to a reliable host, you should make others aware of it’s existance by linking to it from your site. A “landing page” written specifically for yoru eBook is the ideal solution: here you can write an enhanced description of your book, perhaps with a preview or elaborative image to encourage readers to download.

Don’t forget to use other marketing strategies to ensure others become aware of this free publication: send a brief email to others writers in your niche who may be interested; inform your blogging buddies and social media friends, and link to your eBook/landing page from all pages of your blog (in a highly visible place, such as the sidebar).

Further reading for eBook marketing strategies

Low Budget Advertising Techniques

After following the advice presented in the other sections if this article, you may find traditional advertising techniques are no longer nescessary. However, for those who still wish tp pursue these avenues, here is a round-up of free and low cost advertising outlets which you would find useful for promotng your blog:

Entrecard – Banner exchange system

By using Entrecard, you display a widget on your site to earn credits from advertising banners displayed on your site. In return, you use these credits to advertise your own blog on other sites.  Entrecard is also a community based system where you can find recommendations for other sites and participate in community activities.

Project Wonderful – Low cost, auction style banner advertising

Project Wonderful allows you to bid on advertising from your chosen publishers. While your bid for advertising is the highest for your chosen ad-slot (and there is enough funding in your account), your banner will remain on the publisher’s site. Learn more about the Infinite Auction system.

Stumbleupon Ads – Buy targeted “stumbles” to encourage more reviews of your site

I discovered Stumbleupon Ads after reading how Freelance Switch was promoted. Provided your content is “stumbleworthy”, this could well prove an effective and very-low cost method of advertising your blog.

Conclusions

While your blog may have a beautiful design and some killer articles, this proves worthless without an audience to enjoy it. In this article, we’ve looked at marketing strategies for promoting your blog and content which are either free or very cheap to use.

I hope this article has offered useful concepts and informative suggestions for marketing your blog on a very small budget. Please feel free to leave your own comments and suggestions below.

Image credits: Boxed (top right) by recursion_se_recursion, Handshake by Gaetan Lee, Social Media Stickrs by Robert Scoble, eBook by Tscherno. All via Flickr Creative Commons.

Amanda is a freelance blogger and web/blog designer. She writes about Blogger at www.BloggerBuster.com and maintains several other blogs on various subjects.

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Blogging

Advertising Revenue: Yes or No?

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Are you a new blogger ready to hop on the Adsense train?

Pump your breaks a few times. Slow down and think this through.

Advertising revenue can prove to be a lucrative income stream for bloggers over the long term. Build a large, loyal following. Be generous. Be patient. Success will be yours, as will Adsense ad clicks and increased blogging revenue. New bloggers have a different Adsense experience though. I see excited newbies ready to cash their first Adsense check on receiving approval. 6 months later, after making $.02 per month, the enthusiasm dies and the blogger removes Adsense from their blog. Why? Bloggers learn a harsh lesson about advertising revenue: you need a huge, loyal following to generate significant income through advertising channels.

Example

Most new bloggers get 5, 10 or 50 people to visit their blog daily. Imagine if 20 people visit your blog daily. How many of those 20 people click on your Adsense ad, or any ad? 99.99% of the time, none. Tomorrow sees 14 blog visitors. None click your ads. After 1 month, 240 people visit your blog. 2 people click your ad. This sounds about right. At the end of the month, you made $0.04 USD. Of course this is common because you are a new blogger with little traffic. Low traffic blogs generate low profit ad revenue.

Do you know who makes hundreds to thousands of dollars in Adsense revenue monthly? Bloggers who blog effectively and generously for 2-3-5 or more years generate this type of sweet income. Advertising revenue takes SERIOUS work! Maybe 1% of bloggers – or less – put in the work that drives the thousands of people daily to blogs which nets a steady, solid Adsense income. But most new bloggers mistakenly believe their 30 visitor a day blog will yield $100 to $500 per month or more. Never gonna happen guys. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Advertising Revenue: Yes or No?

I share profitable income streams in my eBook:

15 Ways to Make Money Blogging

Buy it to explore different ways and means of profiting, to beef up your multiple streams of income.

Newbie bloggers should never open ad revenue streams because they do not have a large, loyal, targeted readership needed to generate substantial ad revenue. Write and self-publish an eBook. Toss that widget on your sidebar, replacing the ad widget. Brand yourself. Make more money.

Experienced bloggers with large, loyal tribes should consider ad revenue if the ads:

  • feel like a match for the blog and brand
  • are highly targeted for your readership
  • add value for your readers

Think targeting. Sites like the Huffington Post can post any ad and completely disregard relevance because millions upon millions of humans visiting the blog monthly have millions and millions of interests. When advertisers pay a million dollars for a short Super Bowl ad they understand not every one of the 1 billion people watching the Super Bowl is highly interested in their ad, but many folks out of the billion plus people will be interested, and net advertiser revenue, through the commercial.

For you, even if your tribe is large and loyal, you likely do not attract millions of blog visitors monthly. Target advertisements to ensure most if not all of your readers seem highly interested in the ad. Even if a small percentage clicks through you will generates steadily increasing ad revenue by this approach because you intelligently match your ad with your reader.

As a new blogger go with non-ad income streams. Experienced veterans can lay out ads but make sure your ads align with your readers.

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Blogging

The Ultimate Checklist To Grow Your Blog in 2019

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Perhaps you’re here because you’ve had a blog for a long time now, but you feel like it’s just not growing as you hoped it would. The good news, however, is that you aren’t alone. Even blogs that you think are “famous” may have also gone through this same challenge. Fortunately, there are many tricks you can apply to help your blog reach its fullest potential. These are doable, and with a little help from experts, you’re sure to achieve the growth you’ve been dreaming of.

Here’s a checklist you can follow:

  1. Venture Into Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most effective strategies in digital marketing, which you can also apply on your blogs. Affiliate marketing refers to the act of partnering with companies and businesses that are looking for bloggers who are willing to try out and promote their products and services. In the beginning, you might not be able to reach more prominent brands and companies, but if you keep going, affiliate marketing can also be very effective in helping your blog grow in terms of audience reach. The more you network with affiliates, the more traffic comes to your site.To provide you more insights on digital and affiliate marketing, read through this digital marketing checklist.

  1. Link With Other Bloggers

In the blogging industry, success isn’t so much about competing with each other. In fact, there’s a lot you can achieve by simply linking with other bloggers as well. This means that, from time to time, you create posts that allow you to connect with others in the industry, or you create collaboration posts with other bloggers. That way, you’re both doing each other a favor by expanding each other’s blogs to the current networks that you both have, much like exchanging gifts.

Here are other ways for you to also link or engage with other bloggers:

  • Comment on the posts of other bloggers
  • Mention other bloggers in your posts
  • Engage in the social media pages of other bloggers

 

  1. Create Detailed Content

Especially if you’re writing about solutions to common problems of your viewers, be very detailed about it. Readers want to have answers as soon as they visit your website. Without clear, actionable content, you’re not only going to lose one reader, but you’re going to lose others as well.

Some of the best strategies you can employ to ensure detailed content are the following:

  • If you’re talking about technical or serious matters, include statistics and case studies
  • Stay away from broad statements that are going to leave your readers guessing
  • Whenever you can, include actionable and real data. (e.g. Climate change is expected to hit a _____ mark by 2020. To combat this, one of the things you can do is…)

While the optimum length of every blog post should still be around 500 to 2,000 words, this doesn’t mean that you cannot put in detail. Never write and post anything haphazardly. Be sure to do your fair share in researching beforehand.

 

  1. Enable Social Media Sharing

If you’re a blogger, you’d know it’s inevitable to also have social media accounts. If you can, go for the three major social media pages, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The more active you are on social media, the more effective you become as well. Keep in mind the following techniques in terms of social media posting:

  • Keep a fixed schedule of when you usually post new content. This will make it easier for your visitors to expect new posts. Through this, you can also build anticipation among your readers.
  • As you schedule your content posting, also factor in the usual available time of your target market. For instance, if your blog is about parenting, you might want to post at night, when all mommy duties have been done for the day, and they can check their social media.
  • Refrain from posting every hour. Keep your posts within a healthy interval so that your followers won’t become bored or even annoyed. At least every other day is enough to keep your followers excited.

What you can do is post an update on each social media account when you also have a new blog. Link your blog post to your social media post so you can draw traffic to your website. With social media, it’s also easier for your followers to share and spread the word about your content. By simply clicking the share button, they’re able to post this on their social media sites as well.

Conclusion

When you strive to make your blog perform better, it shouldn’t end only with the growth per se. You also have a more significant task to fulfill, which is to apply the necessary strategies that are going to motivate your readers to keep coming back. These above-mentioned tips can help you achieve these two goals. Now you can be on your way towards running your blog to its fullest potential.

 

 

 

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Blogging

7 Reasons Nobody is Reading Your Blog

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Blogging is tough work. It’s not backbreaking labor like ditch digging, but it can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.

It may consume hours, days, weeks, and months of dedication before you see results. Even with a solid commitment of time and creative energy, results aren’t guaranteed. It’s not just about coming out with new content, it’s more about coming out with content that is of real value, will rank in Google, and that people are actually going to read and share.

Millions of blogs are humming along on the Internet, but only a fraction could be termed successful. If you have a blog and it has no significant readership to speak of, there are a few possible explanations.

1 – You Write About Things People Don’t Care About

“It’s easy when you first start blogging to act like your blog is an online journal. While your blog should be personalized, it should be focused on your reader,” copywriter Michael Leonard explains.

“People, for the most part, only care about themselves. As a content creator, it’s your responsibility to give the reader what they want.”

If you’re only writing about yourself, people will eventually tune out. The best thing you can do is to switch your focus to topics your audience is passionate about. Not sure what that might be? Go ahead and ask your existing readers for their input on topic selection.

2 – You Lack a Consistent Voice

Consistency is a huge facet of blogging success. People need to feel they’re encountering the same voice, style, and personality one post to the next. If there’s too much variety in style and content, you’ll fail to resonate with readers and eventually they’re apt to wander elsewhere.

3 – You Have No Social Media Presence

Blogging and social media go hand in hand these days. If you don’t have a social media presence, you’re missing out on the opportunity to expand your blog readership (and vice versa).

Instead of trying to be on every social media platform that exists, spend your time focusing on one or two platforms (such as Instagram or Facebook). By pouring all your energy into building up audiences on these channels, you’ll be much more likely to see a positive impact on your blog.

4 – You’ve Never Done SEO

SEO might be a bit technical for your taste, but it’s still essential. Without an SEO strategy, you won’t be able to capitalize on organic search traffic.

This will leave you 100 percent reliant on paid and/or social traffic … and that will damage your results and lower your chance of building a flourishing audience.

5 – You’ve Never Invested in Link Building

In order to satisfy Google’s algorithm and prove you have an authoritative website that’s worth turning up in the search rankings, you have to demonstrate that you’re a trusted source for content. One of the ways to do this is by developing a link-building strategy.

Link building is the process of acquiring backlinks from other authoritative websites to your own. Though you can do this manually, it’s far more efficient and cost-effective to hire a white-label link-building service like SEO.co.

This approach frees you to focus on the content side, without neglecting the optimization facet of the equation.

6 – You’re All Words and No Visuals

All words and no visuals is a recipe for supreme boredom. If you aren’t careful, it’ll destroy your audience and leave you with an echo chamber of a blog.

As tough as it may be to swallow, accept the fact that people will likely read only an average of 20 percent of the content on your page. In other words, the average person will ignore 80 percent of your blog content.

Much of this depends on the limited nature of the human attention span. The quickest way to get past this is to incorporate some visuals to provide some relief and boost engagement.

“Visual elements jump off the page,” Quick Sprout explains. “If someone is scanning through your blog post, they’ll likely stop at the images. They’ll skim the first few lines before and after the picture to digest your points of emphasis.”

You don’t have to change your entire blogging strategy, but it’s wise to give some attention to visuals. An occasional infographic or video will go a long way with your audience.

7 – You Don’t Post Enough

You don’t have to post a blog piece every day to be successful. But if you’re uploading only one every few weeks, you’re forfeiting your opportunity to engage an audience.

As a general rule, you should post at least three times a week. This means you’ll have to generate something once every two days (with an occasional lapse of an extra day or two). At that rate, you’re most apt to stay at the front of your readers’ minds without overwhelming them.

Develop Your Blogging Strategy

Publishing a random blog post here and another casual commentary there isn’t going to get you the results you desire … no matter how good the content might be. You need a defined strategy that delivers high value to a specific group of readers in a manner that’s consistent with your brand personality and objectives.

One would hope this article has opened your eyes to what that can look like moving forward.

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