Now you can sit back.
Put your feet up on the desk, sip on that pina colada and watch the traffic flood your site.
You’ve created something epic… I know the feeling.
A blog post so good, so in depth, and so engaging that everyone will want to share it with their friends.
But they don’t.
Nobody Tweets, nobody comments… and worst of all, it feels like nobody cares.
All that hard work for what – this feeling of inadequacy?
We didn’t sign up for this.
We signed up for something much different.
We signed up for a dream where everyone cared about what we had to say, and they came running every time we published new content.
I’m not about to tell you that your dream was wrong.
Blogging can grow your business, and people will come running every time you hit publish.
You are just focusing on the wrong thing.
We assume that content creation is the most important part about blogging – this assumption is killing our dream.
Drop your pen right now
Forget about writing for a moment.
Every time you write a post, spend just as much time promoting it.
This will deliver you more traffic, more leads and eventually more revenue.
As it turns out, writing is a blogger’s worst nightmare – because they forget about promotion.
You need to find a way for people to get their eyes on your content, regardless of how good it is.
The best way to do that is to have a strict, step-by-step, proven process you use every time you hit publish to promote your blog posts.
Because the content itself doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to promote it.
If promotion isn’t AT LEAST an equal part to content creation, you’ve got it all wrong.
Today I want to share with you the 3-step process I use to guarantee hundreds and hundreds of social shares, every time I post.
(Oh yea, and a ton of traffic and email subscribers too)
Are you ready?
Before we dive into it: I want you to click play on this video and listen to the music by the Beatles as you read the post… It captures the essence of the promotion process.
How to promote a blog post in 3 easy steps
I’ve tried a lot of content promotion strategies before…
And this very simple 3-step process is hands down the most effective.
Snap – Pick a proven topic
Crackle – Make your content shareable
Pop – Directly outreach
Step 1 – Snap
The ‘Snap’ component of this process is all about writing blog content based on a proven concept – something that has been successful already.
Your definition of success may differ from mine, but I consider a post successful if it has been shared a lot before, linked to by authoritative sites or has a lot of reader engagement.
The idea is, if you can find a topic that has already been proven to stir lots of interest, then create a high quality post about that topic, chances are it will also get shared a lot by your audience.
So how do you find a proven concept to write about?
Ask yourself these 4 questions;
1. Is it trending?
The first stop in figuring out if something is a proven concept is Google.
If people are searching for a topic, there is a good chance it’s worth writing about.
Type your broad topic into Google trends like I have with the term ‘content marketing’ below.
The above graph shows you how many searches, on average, the term ‘content marketing’ has had since 2004.
Basically you are looking for topics on an upswing – search volume is staying strong or increasing.
Next, you want to confirm your estimates by checking out the exact search volume for your primary topic and the words associated to it.
To do this, drop your primary keyword into Google AdWords like I have below.
This will give you the information you need with regards to search volume – but it will also give you some hints for other related keywords you may choose to use in your blog post.
There is no perfect number in terms of search volume, but use your intuition to decide whether a topic is worth pursuing or not.
2. Are your competitors talking about it?
Let’s not get obsessed with ‘unique’ content ideas – because there aren’t any.
You will bring uniqueness to the table with your writing style, personality and levels of quality.
If your competitors haven’t written about a topic before, maybe your customers don’t care about it.
To find out who is fighting for your customers attention, head over to SEMRush.
SEMRush will give you your top 10 keyword competitors for free and a whole bunch more if you are willing to pay.
As an example I have dropped Quick Sprout (Neil Patel’s blog) into the SEMRush search bar below.
Once you know who your main keyword competitors are, it’s time to figure out if they have written about the topic you have in mind.
In a Google search type “Your Competitor” + “Your Topic” – like I’ve done below for Quick Sprout.
No surprises there is a ton of content on Quick Sprout that mentions content marketing – but you get the point. I have just used a very broad and obvious example.
If you are able to find content your competitors have written about a topic, check for the following;
- Have they got a lot of comments and social shares?
- How could you improve on what they have written?
If they haven’t written content about this topic before, you may want to re-think your idea.
Sweet, you’re starting to really validate your blog topic – it’s trending, your competitors have written about it before AND they have got a bunch of engagement.
3. Are people sharing it?
Google ranks searches based on ________________ (Who knows)
BuzzSumo ranks searches based on how many social shares a piece of content has.
Basically, if lots of people have shared content about a specific topic before… Chances are they will do the same again.
Head over to BuzzSumo and drop your keywords into the search box – the results will look like this;
(Guilty – I chose a search term where Blogger Sidekick featured at number 2)
On the right hand side of this search you will see how many social shares a piece of content has received. The search also provides information exactly about who has shared the article – this will be important info once we want to share our post in step 3 of this promotion process.
You can also filter your search by recency and content type – this will give you more valid information about the topic you are deciding to write about.
Usually though, the more shares, the more proven your idea is.
4. Are people linking to it?
The final part of the ‘Snap’ step in this process is to see if anyone is linking to content on your chosen topic.
Because getting backlinks is important.
In your BuzzSumo search there is a button that will show you who has linked to a specific piece of content. See below.
This is what the list of backlinks look likes – for my list building article there are just the two linking domains.
If people are regularly linking to content on a topic, it is worth writing about.
Picking a proven concept is important if you want to get a lot of links, shares and engagement on your next blog post.
But you don’t have to obsess over every step I have suggested in this part of the process. Pick the one or two that work for you, and validate your ideas before writing.
Step 2 – Crackle
Once you have a proven topic to write about. The next step is to create content that is more shareable.
What makes content more shareable?
Here is a quick fire list of tactics you can use to make your content more shareable and inevitably get more social shares, engagement and links on every post.
1. Be a name dropper
It’s hard to miss – everyone is creating round up posts these days.
Because it works. The more people you mention in your content, the greater chance you have to get some significant shares or returning links.
But to be honest, it’s a little tiresome. Where’s the real value for the reader?
Instead of being like everyone else and creating the next ’80 Experts Tell Us How to Do Something’ – get creative.
I name drop all the time. In almost every blog post I give examples of where I have seen a tactic work or how someone else is doing it well.
But I do it in a way that complements the post. It adds value to the reader and reinforces the point I am trying to make.
It’s not name dropping for the sake of it.
If you want to find some influencers that are worth mentioning in your next blog post – head back over to BuzzSumo.
2. Nail your headline
If the headline looks good we will click on the post, if it doesn’t we won’t. Simple.
Let’s not kid ourself – most of the time we don’t bother going any further.
Most people share without reading. Sure it’s sad, but it’s true.
That’s the importance of a headline.
Nail your next headline with the CoSchedule headline analyzer.
Or take some inspiration from the best in the game, Jon Morrow. He offers 52 free headline hacks at Boost Blog Traffic.
3. Write a list post
Everyone wants to see them…
You can skim read lists, they seem immediately actionable and people just want to share them.
The top 10 articles on Econsultancy have a number in the headline, and almost 60% of HubSpots blog posts are lists (Thanks to Doug Kessler from Velocity Partners for these stats)
The top 4 posts in the last year on JeffBullas.com have a combined share count of 39,500… They are all list posts.
4. Use an eye-catching header image
There’s nothing worse that getting hit with a wall of text as soon as you get to a blog post.
A nice looking header image will soften the blow.
Your header image is an extension of your brand, and it’s look and feel will depend on your preference.
Some people create unique images for every post, others choose to use stock images.
It’s up to you and the audience you are speaking to but here is a nice example from Mike Allton from The Social Media Hat.
5. Obsess over your intro
Once someone clicks on your headline and sees your header image, the blog introduction is what they read next.
It needs to grab them by the shirt and pull them down the page.
Pack it full of stories, crafty copywriting tricks and neat formatting.
The further down the page a visitor gets, the more chance they are of sharing the blog post – so the intro is important.
6. Pack your post full of images
It’s no secret, images throughout a post increase engagement.
They keep people interested from start to finish, add a layer of understanding, break up the text and explode your chances of a share.
7. Include share buttons that float
Sure, we all have social share buttons.
But what happens when I get half way down your page and want to share?
Most marketers think sharing buttons at the top and bottom of their posts is enough. Floating share buttons increase the chance that someone will share your posts because it gives them every opportunity to do so.
Here is an example from Mari Smith – Facebook marketing expert.
In this example you can see that I’m all the way at the bottom of a long blog post, but the social share buttons are still nicely placed to the left side of the content.
8. Flat out ask people to share
Don’t be shy.
If you want to get more social shares, just ask people.
A great way to ask people to share your content within a blog post is to include a ‘Click to Tweet‘ button.
Here’s how it looks on Ian Cleary’s blog Razor Social;
9. Let me skim read
We’re all busy, so make it easy for someone to skim read your blog post.
The quicker they can consume the most important information, the more chance they are to share it.
The best way to make a post easy to skim read is to include headings, sub-headings, dot points and bold text.
Marko Saric from ‘How to Make my Blog‘ shows us how this is done below;
10. Make it personal and emotive
Let us connect with you.
If you make it personal and draw people into an emotional journey they will be inspired to share your work.
You can do this by telling a personal story, using emotive language or revealing something about yourself.
You can see how I did this in my post about building an SEO strategy by sharing a personal story about my travels to Vietnam.
11. Pick the right time to publish
The final tip for making your content more shareable is to pick a good time to hit publish.
When is your audience most likely to read your content? What timing has performed the best in the past?
You can test this out based on trial and error, or you can take out the guesswork with appropriate tools.
For example, SocialBro has a feature that tells you the best time to send a Tweet based on previous engagement levels.
This will give you an insight into when your audience is more likely to engage with your content and share it.
These 11 tips for making your content more shareable are all options – not necessities. Pick the ones that will give the best return on investment based on your context and audience.
Step 3 – Pop
Ok, so you’ve found a proven concept to write about, and you’ve created a blog post that is more shareable.
Now the fun stuff begins.
The 3rd step in this content promotion process is when you cash in on all that hard work.
It’s when you see those social shares rise, the backlinks start coming in and the traffic begin to flood your blog.
But you need to get your hands dirty.
The ‘Pop’ part of this process is all about hustling.
It’s about taking what you have learnt from step 1 and 2 and directly outreaching to the right kind of people, so they will share the blog post to their audience.
There are a lot of ways you can go about this step, but for the purpose of this post I want to show you the two tactics that have worked best for me.
1. Blind Twitter Outreach
Step 1 – Finding sharers on BuzzSumo
To conduct effective Twitter outreach for your blog post, head back over to BuzzSumo and type in your keywords. Below is an example where I have searched for ‘blog introduction’.
There is a post at the top of the search written by Neil Patel for the HubSpot blog, and you will notice there is a button which says ‘View sharers’. Click on it.
This is what you will see…
On this page you will see everyone (all of the 1.4 thousand people in this case) that shared the post. Their web address, profile photo, Twitter handle, follower count and a bunch of other helpful information about these sharers.
Step 2 – Filtering your search
You may want to filter your search to pinpoint the best sharers for your post.
On the top right of the BuzzSumo screen there is a drop down menu allowing you to filter the search.
The factors include;
- Average Retweets
- Domain Authority
- Number of Followers
- Reply Ratio
- Retweet Ratio
- Page Authority
These factors will help you decide who you outreach to based on what is most important to your promotion efforts.
Step 3 – Activating Buffer
Now, in another tab open up the blog post you want to share (For this to work best you will need a Buffer account and the Buffer plugin for your browser – or something that functions in a similar way).
Click on the Buffer plugin whilst on your blog post page – a pop up will come up on your screen.
Click on the ‘Power Scheduler’ option at the top of this pop up.
Step 4 – Start hustling
Roll up your sleeves, and start to hustle.
Go back to the BuzzSumo list of sharers and choose the first person you want to reach out to on Twitter.
Copy and paste their Twitter handle into the Buffer scheduler and support it with something like this;
“@TheirName Hey [Their Name], thanks for the awesome content you shared on [Topic X]. We would love your feedback on this resource. [Insert link to your post]”
Rinse and repeat as many times as you want – the more you do this, the more chance that key influencers will check out your post and share it on with their audience.
2. Targeted Influencer Outreach
Remember the influencers you mentioned in step two of the blog promotion process?
Now it’s time to tell them about it.
How you go about telling them will depend on how well you know them.
You don’t know them at all
If you have mentioned influencers in your blog post and don’t already have a relationship with them – Twitter is the best platform to reach out on.
Much like the direct outreach you did above, you are simply Tweeting to someone letting them know that you mentioned their work in your blog post.
Chances are they will re-tweet it or create a fresh new tweet of their own.
Here is an example of me reaching out to Peter Boyle (and him responding) after mentioning him in a blog post I wrote for Bluewire Media.
— Will Blunt (@WillBluntAU) July 31, 2015
You know them a little
If you’ve had a couple of interactions with these influencers already, you may like to personalize your outreach efforts.
Google+ is a great place to do this.
It allows you to tag someone in a post, make the post private, and add way more detail than you would do on Twitter. But you don’t need to fight the constant battle of inbox attention by emailing them.
Here is an example of me reaching out to Ana Hoffman from Traffic Generation Cafe – it resulted in a string of back and forth comments, a social share AND a backlink in her Weekly Marketing Skinny.
(I’m not sure if ‘besties’ is Australian slang, but it stands for ‘best friends’!)
If you have mentioned influencers that you already have a relationship with, email is the best medium to contact them.
Chances are your email won’t get lost in the spam folder if someone has opened one of your messages in the past – and they will most likely take action straight away from their inbox.
Talking over email has a way of strengthening relationships too. It is easily the most personal of the online communication mediums.
Here is a template I use to outreach to influencers I have mentioned and ask for a share.
A couple of things you will notice in the email template;
- It’s short and sweet – they don’t really care that much about your blog post
- It’s super-easy for them to share – all they need to do is click a button.
- The call-to-action is above the link to the post – they can share without reading if they want.
- It’s about them, not you – up front you have made the email about them and their content. That is what they care most about.
If you want to get more traffic to your blog – focus on promoting your best content, not creating more of it.
Lots of people talk about doing it, but not many people actually take action.
You can be different.
You can standout.
And next time you are publishing a new blog post, remember…
“We get by with a little help from our friends”
Find your friends, mention them, and then ask them to share your content.
That’s all it takes to get more traffic to your blog, and lots of it.