Derek says he spends 20 percent of his time creating and 80 percent promoting. He writes:
If you spend time writing a piece of content, and that content only gets 1,000 readers, chances are there are one million other people in the world who can benefit from what you wrote.
Why, then, would you spend more time creating content when you already have something that your ideal customers can benefit from?
It's smarter to find another 10,000 people to consume what you've already created as opposed to creating more.
Or, in other words, create content 20 percent of the time. Spend the other 80 percent of the time promoting what you created.
When I read that, an ah-ha slapped me right in the forehead.
Like many of you, I’m a creator. I like to write, to produce. And, as editors used to tell me back when I had a day job, I’m prolific.
That’s a good trait to have, generally. But in this case, it actually hinders my success. Because I can create until the sun comes up, but as Derek says so pointedly, it’s smarter to put the pen down and find more eyes for my work.
So what can you do to help the content you’ve already created get more eyeballs?
This is a list I’ve been meaning to put together for a long while. My team and I manage several large blogs, including our new site for writers, The Write Life. Whenever one of those sites starts to plateau traffic-wise, I rack my brain for ideas on how to push the traffic meter up, an it would be easier if I had a list of tactics to choose from.
You can always turn to the staples — for me, that’s social media — but when you want to make a big splash, you have to go beyond what you always do and put in a little extra effort.
So here’s my list of 18 quick things you can do to help blog posts gain traction. Almost all are free, requiring only time, effort and connections.
1. Write to friends and professional contacts and ask them to share the post
Of all the tactics on this list, this is the one I use the most. The trick? I only ask friends to share when the post is relevant to their audience, and I don’t ask too often.
For this to work, you need already-established relationships. That’s why you should build your network NOW, rather than waiting until you need help.
Be specific in your request. Ask the friend to share on Twitter, and give them a tweet that’s ready to go. (See next bullet on how to do that.) Or, if they have a newsletter and the topic is super relevant to their audience, ask them to share it with their list. The more specific you can be, the more likely that person is to help you (so long as they know you).
2. Add ClicktoTweet to the post
This is one way to make it over-the-top easy for readers to share the post. Even better, they’ll share it using the exact words you want them to use.
Here’s a quick tutorial about how to use ClicktoTweet.
3. Write guest posts for popular blogs
Once your guest post is accepted, be strategic about which link you include in your bio, and if the editor allows it, add a relevant link to the blog post you want to boost in one of the first few paragraphs.
4. Tweet the post and @mention relevant individuals or publications that might enjoy and share it
Don’t do this in an annoying way; you never want to beg people to share your work. Instead, take a “this might be helpful for your community” non-pushy approach. It requires a bit of effort to brainstorm who might truly care about the post and then find appropriate @handles, but this will go a long way toward helping your content find legs.
5. Share the link in a relevant Facebook group
Groups are one of the best-kept secrets on Facebook; they often convert better than pages, which is what we usually turn to for promotion.
Here, too, you can share your work in a pushy, me-me-me way, or you can position the post as a resource that might be helpful for group participants. The former will work against you; the latter will work in your favor.
6. Create a quote image to accompany the post
Paraphrase one epic idea that’s included in the post, turn it into a pretty image, and share the image on social channels, especially Facebook and Pinterest, where those types of images tend to go viral.
Don’t forget to add the link to your post in the caption, or all that sharing won’t send any traffic to the post. Here’s an example of how we do this for The Write Life on Pinterest.
7. Link to useful, relevant blog posts written by other people in the post itself
Not only is this helpful for your reader, it creates a back-link for the blogger you mentioned, and they might notice that when looking at their site stats — and hopefully stop by to leave a comment or share it with their community.
Including people or publications in your post also gives you a reason to @mention them on Twitter when you share the link to the post, and you might even email them to let them know they’re included.
8. Share the post as a status update on LinkedIn
We tend to think of Facebook and Twitter for sharing updates, which means LinkedIn can get forgotten. But people do actually read the stream of updates on LinkedIn nowadays, so it’s worth posting there in your personal feed. Depending on your network, you’ll likely reach an entirely different set of eyes than you reach on Facebook and Twitter.
9. Optimize the post for SEO
This is more of a long-term strategy than a short-term traffic boost, but it’s a small detail that will help you significantly in the long term. Scared of SEO? Here’s a webinar that will make it a lot less terrifying.
Two easy ways to optimize your posts for SEO are use search-friendly keywords in the headline, and add an SEO plug-in (I like All-in-One SEO) on the back end of your blog and fill it out every time.
10. Speaking of headlines, revisit the one on your post and make sure it’s catchy
From managing several popular blogs, I can tell you that the Number One factor in whether a post gets a lot of eyeballs is the headline. You could write a terrible post, slap a great headline on it, and you’d have a winner in terms of traffic. (That’s not a good strategy long term, but you get the idea.) Likewise, if you write an awesome post and give it a boring title or a title we’ve all seen a million times, people simply won’t click.
Writing great headlines is not easy, and it takes practice. If you’re serious about improving your headline-writing skills, Jon Morrow has a fabulous free resource called Headline Hacks that will teach you in a quick read everything I learned in a year of writing headlines for news.
11. Pay to boost the post on your Facebook page
For a long while I was against paying to promote content on Facebook, but my thinking on this changed drastically once I tried it and saw just how well it works. Facebook really favors paid posts now — that’s one of their ways of making money — which means that when you pay to boost a post, you get tons more views, clicks and shares than you would otherwise. Best of all, it’s now easy to boost a post right from your page, target the right readers and access analytics.
12. Send a newsletter to your list
Newsletters tend to perform best when they’re focused on that one post; in other words, your action item is getting people to click, and you don’t clutter the email with lots of distractions (even if they’re valuable distractions). You also want your subject line to be a teaser that entices readers to open the email.
Of course, to send an email to your list, you have to actually have a list. That’s why you should start building one NOW. Really. It’s the absolute best thing you can do for your brand. And yes, I have a webinar for that: Grow an Engaged Email List.
13. Add a free download to the post
This idea, which comes from Clay Collins on the Smart Passive Income podcast, will not only help you attract more eyes, it will also help you capture those readers’ emails.
14. Share on your personal Facebook profile
When we look to promote, we often turn to a Facebook page. But know who cares even more about what you’re up to? Your personal network! I don’t share work updates often in my personal feed — which part of the reason this works — but when I do, it sends a good stream of traffic to my site.
15. Make your URLs clickable
Nothing works against you more than sharing a URL in an email or Facebook post that people can’t click on even if they want to. Don’t write your URLs like this: alexisgrant.com. Write them like this, https://alexisgrant.com, so they turn into a link. If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, read this post for a better explainer.
16. Add the post — in a clickable format (see #15) — to your email signature
My preference is using a teaser that includes the link on a keyword. For example, for this post, I might add a short blurb to my signature that reads, “Want more people to ready your blog posts? Here are 18 things you can do to help it gain traction.”
If you use Gmail — and you should — it’s easy to add a signature.
17. Create a “best of” list that includes blogs and people you want to notice you
This strategy goes back to the blog post itself rather than promoting a blog post you’ve already written, but it’s such a good traffic-booster that I want to include it here.
Creating a list of 10, 50 or even 100 best blogs in your niche (or whatever else you want to rank) will give you tons of shares because the people you’ve included will want their network to know they’ve been recognized for their work. Make sure those folks know they’re on the list by sending them a heads-up email.
18. Write a round-up post of advice from influencers
This is yet another way to encourage people to share your post — because if their advice is featured, they’re likely to share it with their network.
My team uses Google forms to easily collect and organize advice from influencers. We email them asking them to participate and send along the link to the form. That way, when they answer our questions, all the information goes right into a spreadsheet we can pull from later.
Again, don’t forget to email everyone you included when the post goes live and @mention them on Twitter with the hopes that they’ll share the post with their network!
What other little tricks do you use to boost traffic to your blog posts?