I was contacted by a fellow Personal Financer this morning named Naveed from NaveedsMind who asked a question that got me going for 9 hours writing this one! Ever get on a kick like that? Grab a cup of coffee and sit down for this one, it’s a long, interesting, and informative story you will want to know about…
Hello Hank. I’m really enjoying reading and writing blogs. Yours is a particularly well rounded one. Wanted to ask about some general tips about publicizing. Eventually I’ll redo the site layout – but only when I can get enough hits to my blog. Now I may get one hit a day if I’m lucky. What do you suggest? – Naveed
First of all Naveed, thanks for the email, it really got my creative juices flowing and I believe this is what you’re looking for, a little post I call: Publicizing – from beginning a Personal Finance blog through to maintaining an established blog and how you adapt and succeed at it from unknown PF “start-up” to beefy investment “staple”.
1. As soon as your blog opens its doors, you need to get your name out there.
Very few people are just going to StumbleUpon your blog with you telling them to go there in the first place. StumbleUpon gets its pages by people showing up in the first place. So you’ve got to get you name on everyone elses plates. How do you do that?
Comment on your “competitors” blogs, A LOT! I’m not kidding, let me restate that for dramatic effect, and bold it: Comment on your “competitors” blogs, A LOT! There are hundreds+ (as per FireFinance) personal finance blogs out there. They’re interested in the same things as you, and it is quite possible that they’ll read YOUR stuff.
90% of bloggers have the “U comment, I follow” courtesy of returning the favor. I do, and I have found good blogs out there doing this. Think about being in their shoes. They’re excited to get a comment just as much as you would be. COMMENT THE CRAP OUT OF OTHER PEOPLES BLOGS in your realm (with relative content of course), and you’ll likely see people and traffic back your way.
Note: Do NOT, under ANY circumstances spam your blog on your competitors sites though, make 100% certain you’re posting relevant info; there is no better way to blacklist yourself than to spam someone in your niche. You’ll have lost them as a visitor for life.
2. (RSS) Feed your readers.
Your RSS feed is arguably the most important piece of your blog. It should be out there to be found immediately. Make it obvious where to sign up and give them email, general RSS, and even comment feed options.
I’ve got mine in the top right corner with unique colors for all to see (and subscribe). A lot of the people that come to your blog might not even know what a “feed” is. Tell them what it is, make it obvious and promote it a lot, and at the top of your blog (above the fold). If yours is half way down the right sidebar. Pump it up to the top and let people know that’s the place to go!
3. You’ve heard it before: CONTENT IS KING.
Yea, you’ve started to comment on peoples blogs as per [#1], and people are coming over, but I’m guessing they’re going to bounce like a beach ball when they see you’ve got 3 articles all saying something different like “my new purse is too blue” or “I ate at Joes last night” or “My boss is a dork”. I’m not saying this is you Naveed, you’ve actually got some good content on there to start, but keep it cooking daily [#5].
4. Don’t like writing? I have some bad news for you.
As a sub-point of [#3], if you don’t like writing, I’ve got bad news for you, blogging isn’t for you. Put down your papers, pencils, and keyboards now if that’s the case. You really need to enjoy writing to get anywhere with this. If it is a chore to you, you’re likely not going to be getting any good content out there in the first place. Enjoy writing, or start a new venture, people don’t like reading blank pages.
5. Post “the King” often.
Yes, content is King as per [#3], and that being known, needs to see a lot of face time. When you’re first starting out, it can be difficult to think you have to write an article per day, but in actuality, you really DO need to.
If you’re leaving gaps in your posting, especially when you’re just starting out, the few RSS subscribers you have are going to be hitting the road soon. They’re giving you a chance to prove yourself to them, and you’re really letting them down when they don’t see something daily.
Post daily or MORE when you first start. Get a good base of articles out there, you can taper off as you start building “street cred”.
6. Get in a blog niche.
If you’re in the “Personal Finance” niche stay there. Don’t write about candy corn, ice cream, or Beavis and Butthead, write about Personal Finance. People aren’t coming to your blog to hear about your favorite movie or your dogs birthday; they signed up because they’re interested in Personal Finance.
Yes, it seems petty and fickle that people don’t care about you, but to put it 100% blatantly honest, they don’t. They want your take on Personal Finance. Stick to it or you’ll risk losing visitors.
I dabble a bit in blog improvement, but that is only in reference to the fact that many of my readers are bloggers themselves, and I am personally helping them grow their finances with these tips, hopefully. 🙂
7. Blog on OTHER blogs in your niche.
Well that sounds ridiculous, right? Isn’t the point to pump up your own blog as per [#3]? Well yes, but not exactly. Refer to trumping point [#1].
Guest posting makes sense because you’re writing on a blog that gets far more traffic than your own and YOU’RE writing it. Refer back to links on your OWN site as many times as are relevant to the post. You’re giving yourself free reign to promote your site to the hundreds or thousands of RSS subscribers that your competitor has. What a better way to advertise your blog name than to do it on your own 1 page spread!
If you do it right, people will find your blog because of the eloquent post you’ve left on a top blog. And the reason is obvious as to why the blogger would let you post on their site, They’ve done well on [#1] and [#2] so refer to [#3] again if you want clarification.
Note: That being said, I’m more than open to allowing guest posts, and posting as a guest on YOUR site! Contact me if you’re interested.
8. Trade BlogRoll links with people.
Some people think this is a childish way to get your blog publicity; like trading baseball cards or something. But what do they say in Hollywood? ANY publicity is good publicity? It really is; Most people don’t click on blogrolls, but it DOES increase your linkability through Technorati and Google PageRank, which is quintessential to getting the organic searches later in your blog life.
If you would send an email out to someone in your same community that you’re looking to trade links, and tell them the Technorati/Google PageRank benefits I mentioned above, you’ll be surprised how many people come back and trade with you.
Note: if you’re interested in a trade, I’m always willing to trade, contact me if you’d like to trade links.
9. StumbleUpon your way to blog UNanonymity.
StumbleUpon accounts for almost 80% of my traffic right now. Google organic searches are hot on the rise at about 15% of my traffic, and links from other places make up the remaining 5%.
I suggest signing up for StumbleUpon YESTERDAY, and start “thumbing” sites (including your own) and get it out there for people to see. You’d be surprised the “thumbs up” weight you carry as it relates to visitors following what you “thumbed up”.
You can drive hundreds of people to a site with just ONE “thumb up”, and like it is because you’ve gotten addicted to this gadget a little too much, but that’s not all bad.
Granted, it tapers off when you thumb up the same domain over and over again, not a lot, but a little, and it still generates good traffic.
10. Get involved in forums and groups.
FrugalHacks, MoneyHackers, and NCN Network are just a few in the Personal Finance realm, sign up for all of them! Your name is out there as per [#1], keep it moving around. This not only increases your NAME publicity, but your WEBSITE publicity through Technorati, Google PageRank, Alexa, etc. This is your moneymaker.
Google likes sites that have links OUTSIDE of their own domain. If you have 100 people linking to your site from external, you’re not only getting the traffic that site sends you, but you’re getting the traffic that “Google and friends” (via organic searches) WILL send you because you’re a “valid site” that is referenced across the blogosphere from other valid sites.
11. You’ve got to ditch blogger.com.
Nothing against it, well I guess it IS something against it; it doesn’t show your readers you’re truly out there to blog.
In my opinion, it means that you’re not quite ready to try it on your own, and if it fails, you don’t care. You don’t have anything invested in the project. You haven’t lost anything, and aren’t that interested in it.
Adding your own unique domain name is not only going to give you editor authority to move and change your blog to your liking (it’s very easy too) but it is going to keep you motivated because you’re spending YOUR OWN $$$ now, and nobody likes wasting money. It is a motivator.
I started out as a lurker on several other blogs and I would leave comments there, but clearly wouldn’t have any place to send them back to in the “website” section of the comment. I got to thinking, “Gee, I have a lot of comments and ideas, I should do this myself”. This is when MyInvestingBlog.com was born.
WordPress is free, the domain name costs $10, and the hosting usually runs around $8-15 a month. So to try this out for a year will cost you around $150. Furthermore, the longer you stay on blogger.com, the more people and links will direct there.
Note: If you’re truly interested in pursuing Personal Finance blogging (actually about anything but as per my discretion) on your own domain, but don’t have the funds, contact me and I’ll certainly consider sponsoring and buying your domain and hosting.
12. Flex your advertising muscle.
This one could arguably be put at the beginning of your blog at [#1] because technically, Google doesn’t really care about relative content as much as people clicking their links on your site (don’t go clicking your own links though, they know how and when you do that, and you could get dumped).
I put this one after you’ve gotten a good baseline of content (10 articles or more) to start Google ads. The big thing in Google ads is placement. Look at the Google ad chart. The big places are in the post, left sidebars, and top banners (click to enlarge):
If you don’t have any content around it, people aren’t going to be curious as to what Google has to say about it. I do know Google tries to base the ads on the content you’ve written too. So if you don’t have content on the page, I’ve seen Google just leave the adspace open, and you don’t want that either.
Note: I make roughly 60% of my revenue through Google Ads right now, but have been seeing a good influx of sponsors and other income streams as of recent as per [#14].
13. Don’t do [advertising] steroids though.
Read the reviews I’ve used on a few through the links, but generally found they cluttered up and diminished the overall point of my blog, which will cause you to lose subscribers. Keep it clean.
14. Experiment with new traffic generators.
This is about where I’m at in my blog lifeline. I’ve been around for about 7 months and am making a few dollars off the site. I’ve absolutely more than paid for the blog as per [#11] in about month 3. Anything after that has been extra, and that number rises more each day I post something new.
Like I said, StumbleUpon [#9] is my main traffic driver, but it shouldn’t be my only one. I want to find ANOTHER StumbleUpon to generate the same kind of traffic, and more. Recently I’ve been experimenting with ProjectWonderful, EntreCard, and StumbleUpon Ads.
I’ve been doing the ProjectWonderful piece for about 2 weeks now as an advertiser on other blogs. I put in $30 bucks to test it out. I’ve spent about $10 so far and it’s generated a small amount of traffic so far, but nothing to write home about.
EntreCard is unique because the people interested in it, aren’t necessarily interested in your blog. They’re interested in dropping their cards and hitting the road. I have only been on the EntreCard bit for about 4 days now, and I’ve seen my traffic increase, but I’ve also seen my bounce rate (people that come for 1 second and move on) increase, which can be tracked in Google Analytics.
StumbleUpon Ads has actually been the best of the 3 so far. It’s different than the standard [#9] StumbleUpon in the fact that you’re paying $0.05 per person sent directly to your site. But my readership has increased in the 10 days since starting on this one too.
I know they’re likely coming from this venue because I can see the difference as I have them going to my site, but it has “SU” at the end of it (http://myinvestingblog.com/su“) which directs to the homepage, but I can see they’re entering from there (which clearly I need to change now that people will likely click on this link. 🙂 )
But yes, I can tell these are coming from this venue, and the bounce rate is actually very low on that, which is good.
15. You’ve got to maintain your castle.
You now know that people aren’t going to just come, it’s not the Field of Dreams quote, “If you build it, they will come.” It’s more like, “If you build it, and CONTINUE to build on it, and get your name out there, and produce good content, people will maybe come.”
16. This is where my blog is now.
I DO know that I am going to continue to do these things I’ve listed going forward. Honestly one of the key statements I’ve learned growing up was that “nobody is going to do it for you.” Which carries loads of info in those 8 words.
Nobody cares if your blog dies. Nobody cares if it lives. They only care that you’re giving them the information that they want, and if you’re not giving it to them, they’ll find it elsewhere. Like I said earlier, people are fickle on the internet. They’re not there to make friends, they’re there to get answers, and if you don’t give them answers, someone else will.
In closing, plan on NOBODY coming to your blog in the first month, but POST EVERYDAY [#3]. It takes time for Google, Yahoo and friends to find your blog, but they will if you’re putting content out there.
And I can GUARANTEE you if you follow the steps up I’ve listed here, you will most CERTAINLY start seeing traffic to your blog. It takes time and won’t happen overnight, but just remember “nobody else is going to do it for you.”
I hope this helps you on your quest Naveed! Good luck!