It is easy to feel embarrassed at first when you are promoting your vid central review. Maybe you’re afraid your friends will mock you or think your ideas are silly. Perhaps you just aren’t quite confident that anything you’ve written is worth reading. In all honesty, your friends might mock you—mine certainly did when I first started! Worse yet, your blog might actually not be worth reading, at least not yet.
However, ifyou don’t face your fears and learn how to promote yourself from the very start, beginning with the people who know you best, you will probably never be able to build a successful blogging business. At the end of the day, YOU will always be your best marketer, and this will be true whether you have ten readers or ten thousand readers.
I personally think it is helpful to look at it a different way. If you were starting a brickand-mortar business, you would be darn sure to tell every single person you knew about that business, and then you would ask those people to tell everyone they knew, and so on.
You wouldn’t stop telling people, because your livelihood would depend on it! If you think of your blog as a business, even before it makes a dime, telling people (and improving your product through early market research) stops feeling like shameless self-promotion and a whole lot more like the thing you do when you believe in something.
Blog Hops and Link Parties For those of you who don’t know, a blog hop is a collection of links hosted by a blog or group of blogs intended as a way to get to “know” other bloggers. The idea is that you link up your blog, then go visit as many of the participating blogs as you can, and that they then do the same for you. A link party is similar, but usually requires that you link up individual posts that fit within a certain theme, such as DIY or recipes.
When I first started blogging, I was pretty methodical about actively participating in vid central review, and it did help me start to build a base of traffic beyond my own network of friends and family. However, as my blog grew, I found the process of linking up, visiting multiple blogs every day, and leaving as many comments as possible to be too much work for too little payout. However, I do still participate in link parties quite frequently, and I even host a link party on my own blog called Thrifty Thursday.
I have found link parties to be a lot better for driving traffic than blog hops because they are usually more targeted to specific genres. Additionally, many hosting blogs, including mine, will feature a few blog posts from the link-up each week, which is usually a great source of extra traffic and new readers! The downside of link parties and hops is the amount of time it takes. It can be very time consuming to link up to many different blogs each week.
Even so, linking up is still a great way to get your content in front of other bloggers, which is always a good thing. My recommendation is that you try out a few different parties that fit well with your own genre, and then stick with the ones that drive the most traffic. After seeing the success of Thrifty Thursday on LivingWellSpendingLess.com, many people have asked whether I think starting a link party is a good way to build traffic.
My honest answer is no, at least not for the amount of work that is involved. Getting a link party started is a huge commitment that takes a lot of time, not simply to set it up each week but to go out and promote and invite people to join. While I am very happy that Thrifty Thursday has taken off and become successful, I can’t say it was worth the amount oftime involved, nor can I say I would do it all over again.
Commenting on Other Blogs In my first few months ofblogging I read as many books and articles as I could about the subject of growing your blog traffic, and everything I read said “leave comments on bigger blogs within your same genre.” I took this advice to heart and became a very frequent commenter on a few my favorite blogs, sometimes leaving as many as five or ten comments a day.
In my defense, most of my comments were thoughtful and helpful and genuinely contributed to the post conversation, and, to be fair, all those comments did drive a lot oftraffic to my blog, especially from the one blog I commented on most often. However, I have to admit that more than a few times my “helpful” comments crossed the line into somewhat spammy, shameless self-promotion territory.
While the traffic was nice, and I do in fact recommend commenting on bigger blogs as a great way to build traffic, I don’t recommend becoming that girl (or guy). I learned that lesson the hard way when five minutes into my first blogging conference I bumped into that blogger I had been spam-stalking for several months, and, upon telling her my blog name, she said, “Oh, I know who you are. You leave a lot of comments on my vid central review.”
At that moment I pretty much wanted to sink into the floor and die, and I can guarantee you that I have never spammed another blog since! That blogger and I have since become friends and I can now laugh about my overzealousness. That said, I did learn an important lesson, one that is even more apparent now that I have been blogging for long enough to be the target of more than a few spammy blog comments myself.
The lesson is that while bloggers pretty much universally love to get comments, and while most seasoned bloggers don’t mind helping newbies when they can, trying to “scam” the traffic that those bloggers worked incredibly hard for just isn’t a good practice. It could even get you banned from a site, or, as in my case, end up being one of your most embarrassing and truly cringe-worthy blogging moments ever.
A much better approach is to read blogs you like—particularly ones that would have great crossover traffic—and if a post genuinely moves or inspires you, leave a thoughtful comment with your website URL in the appropriate box. You can even have your name be Your Name @ Your Website Name, and as long as your comment is genuine and insightful, it won’t come across like spam or shameless self-promotion. On the contrary, depending on what you have to say, it might just spur quite a few people to go check out you and your blog.
Promoting Other Bloggers One of my favorite ways to build goodwill (and hopefully traffic, of course, in a roundabout way) is to feature, link to, and promote other blogs and bloggers as much as possible. This approach is more of a “pay it forward” approach. If you are generous with your promotion of others, eventually others will be generous with their promotion ofyou.
Promoting another blogger can be as simple as linking back to another blogger whose post or idea inspired some facet of whatever post you happen to be writing about. Most blogs have trackbacks enabled on their site, which means if you link to a particular post (and not just their home page), the blogger will automatically receive an email, or “trackback” to notify them that they’ve been linked to.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that whenever I receive a trackback email, I always go check out the blog that is linking to me. At the very least, I will read that article, and sometimes I even end up reading a lot more. Another great way to promote other blogs is to feature a roundup of ideas relating to a particular topic.
On my blog, I do this every time I am getting ready to plan a party. After searching the web and Pinterest for ideas, I will create a photo collage “inspiration board” for my chosen party theme, then link back to each blog or website included on the board.
(Note: Be sure to do your due diligence and find the ORIGINAL source of each photograph! Also, do not post a full-size photo on your blog without permission!)
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