I am going to explain in this article the 3 precise growth strategies, that I didn't pay enough attention to.
I won't strictly call them mistakes but something that I should have considered and planned more strategically.
When I look back at my 18 months of blogging journey, it is an acceptable picture for me.
With over 130 published articles and more than 7,500 unique monthly visitors (without referral spam), it is not something stunning but at the same time, I feel good that I have achieved a steady growth.
Zero past experience of WordPress and blogging, never wrote for any audience before and didn't have a clue about content marketing, the biggest factor that kept me going as a blogger was a philosophy that every skill is “learnable” if there is a belief and vision in place.
If you are a new blogger or have a few years of experience under your belt in blogging, you will be able to relate to (or at least appreciate) the negligence that I naively committed in my early blogging career.
- Weak Blog Marketing Plan
- Casual Blogger Outreach Strategy
- Zero Guest Posts
Stay tuned and my personal experience and feedback through this article will give you something to think about.
Perhaps a bit of a nudge.
There might be an area or two where you can review your own existing strategies.
Expect some food for thought from this article to adjust your plans and refine your blogging experience further.
Before I dive into these 3 headings, you must have guessed the theme of this article.
I am going to talk about how my “content focus” caused me to neglect my “marketing efforts”.
I paid too much attention to improving and refining my “content” and did not invest enough time and effort to “market and promote” my blog.
Marketing your blog and published articles are important and go side by side with your content and offering.
A balance which is important for any blogger.
Let us go a level deep in these 3 areas individually.
1) Weak Blog Marketing Plan
“Marketing Plan” is a general term and can be big and too much.
Let us break it down and make it more relevant to you and me.
We are talking about a “blog marketing plan" which you develop to promote your blog or website via a structured and formal marketing and promotion strategy.
Some call it ”blog marketing strategy“ and others ”content promotion strategy“ but in simplest terms, it is your structured approach to market your blog so the maximum number of eyeballs can see, read and appreciate what you have to say.
What I Did
In my first 18 months, I neglected to market my blog in a structured manner.
The only one thing that I did “strictly” was to emphasise on my on-page SEO efforts - thanks to the Yoast's SEO plugin for WordPress mainly.
The results were good and many of my articles appeared on the first page of search results for targeted keywords.
Hence, Google search results were the biggest source of my blog traffic.
When it comes to any other form of marketing, I totally lacked a documented and formal strategy.
Creating a few social media profiles and posting blog articles on all of them, commenting haphazardly on other relevant blogs and a casual email list building is all I did in these 18 months.
Doing half-baked marketing tactics without any strategic thinking did not bring me any significant results.
In summary, I neglected the importance of creating and following a formal marketing plan or marketing strategy to further improve my blog traffic and audience engagement.
What You Should Think About
Consider adopting or thinking along the lines of the following five-step approach.
- Write your marketing plan down. Formally create a document and name it your “ blog marketing plan".
- Define these activities or, at least, understand what they mean for you and your blog.
- Give them an order of priority or sequential preference. You will need to use them on a frequent basis.
- Implement these tactics on a regular basis and according to your blog marketing plan.
- Keep reviewing the progress and refine the plan based on real life feedback and results.
Your blog marketing plan does not have to be a 50-page document if it doesn't need to be.
It can be as simple as a 1 or 2-page list of activities which fall under your promotion tactics and marketing strategy.
How simple or complex your blog marketing plan needs to depend entirely on your individual circumstances. I am not going to make this decision for you.
You have to do this yourself.
Is it the social media, email list, blog commenting or the guest posting that is high on your list of marketing priorities?
Justin McGill for HubSpot wrote a detailed article on creating an unbeatable content marketing plan - have a read if you want to go into further detail.
Have you thought about creating a formal marketing plan for your blog or website?
If so, share with us how was the experience and how it helped you to achieve better results.
2) Casual Blogger Outreach Strategy
This second growth strategy is a subset of the first one.
Technically, blogger outreach is a part of your blog marketing plan or marketing strategy.
Blogger outreach in its simplest terms is reaching out to other bloggers with a view to use their influence and followers for the benefit of your blog and increasing your readership (in a win-win and mutually beneficial manner for both of you).
Blogging is a game of creativity, sharing and joining the forces.
The general approach should be that by creating a mutually beneficial environment for both you and the other blogger, you can leverage this opportunity to reach the wider audience.
One has to strategically use the blogger outreach as a blog growth strategy.
What I did
Don't get me wrong.
In these 18 months, I have made some good blogger friends and solid relationships with fellow writers and bloggers.
Following on social media, sharing and re-sharing their content, a few emails here and there and inconsistent commenting on their blog is hardly a strategic blogger outreach, though.
I did not reach out to any blogger specifically with a view to helping them out and in return ask them to review, comment, share or link back to my content and blog.
I know that it takes time and it is a gradual and natural process to build strong relationships and then use these for your blog growth and traffic.
However, I believe that I was way too casual in this approach.
I never strategically thought about it and stressed on it to increase my readership.
What You Should Think About
Make blogger outreach a necessary part of your marketing strategy (or marketing plan if you have made one).
Identify the bloggers or websites which you want to build strategic relationships with.
You can either do this in a manual way (searching them on Google or social media etc.) or through specialist tools and services which are designed to make this process easier for you.
NinjaOutreach is one such example.
I have personally not tried it myself but if you are serious about outreaching to bloggers in your targeted areas, you should consider trying their 14-days free trial to get a flavour.
Once you get in touch, be genuinely helpful to them. Build a deeper relationship with them.
Do an extra mile if you can - it will only leave a positive impact for the long run.
Ask them to help you out once an element of trust and mutual understanding are developed.
There can be many ways you can seek their help.
They can review your content and provide advice, comment on it, share it with their community, link back to it or provide general help otherwise.
In principle, you are using their influence and already built followership to get more eyeballs and readership for your content and offering.
It is a genuine and relatively quicker way of solid blog growth.
3) Zero Guest Posts
Guest posting is writing for other blogs and websites.
The purpose is to target an already focussed and engaged audience at a different platform and get them touched and impressed with your content and offering.
Guest posting is a part of your blog marketing plan and if you think carefully, a part of the “blogger outreach” to be more precise as explained above.
This time, you are asking the fellow blogger to publish your content on their blog or website.
According to some of the top and influential bloggers, guest blogging is one of the most vital tactics (growth strategy) to increase your readership and influence.
Jon Morrow of BoostBlogTraffic is considered as one of the top bloggers in the industry.
His emphasis on guest blogging is so huge that he has opened a separate website (GuestBlogging.com) to focus on teaching people about why and how to guest blog to increase their influence and authority.
What I Did
Nothing - to guest blog.
I did not write a single guest post on any blog or website.
In fact, I did not even try with a full heart at all.
All I did was to send 4 casual requests at different times to different blogs asking to write for them and get published.
I never got any response from any.
And I gave up.
Here I am with 18 months of blogging experience and I can easily say that I should have taken guest blogging more seriously. I see it as a missed opportunity.
Never mind, it is never too late.
This is my first guest post which is a start of what is going to be a more strategic and long-term blog growth strategy for me.
What You Should Think About
Choose your target platform (website or a blog) to write for.
Build genuine and mutually beneficial relationship with the blogger in charge of that blog.
Once you feel that you are in a position of writing for that blog, pitch your idea and write for them.
Get published, take a genuine interest in post-publishing activities and give a feel to the fellow blogger that the experiment was successful and you are willing to contribute and collaborate in future as well.
Your ultimate aim should not be to earn backlinks and writing half-baked articles to tick the box.
You should genuinely write well to impress the readers and increase your influence and authority.
Brian Dean of BackLinko wrote this excellent and detailed guide about how to guest blog.
Check it out when you are ready to start considering guest-blogging.
“Content” Dominated My Early Blogging but “Marketing” is Next
There is a clear trend here.
I loaded the first 18 months of my blogging with learning, creating and improving my content.
My own writing.
The blog posts and articles that I wrote and the way I present them (though learning WordPress and the design of my blog).
Marketing was put on the back burner.
I neglected the 80/20 rule by Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers where he clearly says that 80% of your effort should be put in promoting the content (marketing) as opposed to the 20% which should be used in creating it.
I want you to keep marketing in consideration from day one of your blogging.
Not at a superficial level but more in-depth and at a strategic level.
You need to target a few important growth strategies that you believe are most relevant and important in your circumstances.
The key is to document them in your “blog marketing plan", try them, refine them and most importantly “master” them.
Start today with making a list as a first step.
Don't trust your memory and never say that “it’s all in your head".
A blank piece of paper, a pen and 15 minutes is all you need to create the first draft of your blog marketing plan.
What is your one marketing related growth strategy that you ignored in your early blogging career and you wish you had it implemented more formally and strategically?
Ahmad Imran is a tech-blogger and founder of REASONTOUSE platform. His writing is focussed on real-life experiences and feedback around personal technology. He writes from a common user perspective and his blogging journey insights are shared in simple, direct and to-the-point articles for bloggers and writers.