You know you’re in a fight right? No, you won’t be throwing kicks and punches, but you are in a bloody scrap to win the attention of your customers.
The blogosphere is a noisy, congested space where everyone is shouting at the top of their lungs trying to get noticed. According to Digital Buzz Blog, there are 2 million blog posts published each day. And each one is screaming for attention.
If you are like me, you’ve tried everything the “experts” preach in order to get your posts noticed:
- You tried writing every single day.
- You tried writing short posts.
- You tried writing long posts.
- You shared on Twitter three times a day.
- You’re conversational on Facebook.
The list goes on and on.
It’s frustrating isn’t it? You spend hours writing a blog post, finding the pictures, making sure it’s just perfect. And when you hit publish… crickets. A few people share it, and if you’re lucky, you get a comment. But you want more customers, more email subscribers, and more attention.
If you’ve ever wondered why some blogs are more popular than others, or why some posts seem to get more attention than others, I’m going to peel back the curtain and reveal a blog marketing plan you can implement today. Here are the four steps needed to ensure your next post is a success:
Step 1: Define your goals
Without a clearly defined goal, how can you know if your posts are accomplishing what you want them to?
Start by answering this question: What is the purpose of my blog post? Try to get as specific as possible.
For example, with this blog post, my goal might be, “To get 100 content marketers to sign up for my email list.” In my goal statement, I outline who I’m targeting, and what I want them to do after reading my post.
Once you’ve defined your goal, now you can start the process for achieving it.
Step 2: Find your ideal readers
After you’ve defined your goal, you need to determine where your ideal readers are so you can reach them.
I like to start my reader research in two places: on the blogs they read and on Facebook. Here’s an easy way to do both:
Search Alltop.com: To find a huge directory of blogs sorted by categories, simply go to Alltop.com.
The key to Alltop is to explore other topics that complement your blog. For instance, if you’re the content marketer for a social media company, of course you’re going to scour blogs in the “social media” category. But you’ll also want to consider blogs in categories like advertising, business, blogging, content marketing, and entrepreneurship. This will help you broaden your horizons, find more potential readers, and get a better understanding of where your blog fits in the blogosphere.
As you’re documenting these blogs, here are some things you’re going to want to take note of in order to make your outreach easier down the line:
- The name of the blog
- The blog’s primary topics
- Its audience demographics
- The editor/publisher of the blog
- Their email address/contact information
- Whether or not they accept guest posts
Facebook: One of the really cool features of Facebook is its search feature, which can be used to find the content and pages that your Facebook fans are also engaging with. If your fans like a particular page, then there is a strong possibility that its fans may value your content.
For instance, when I enter the search term, “pages liked by people who like Cloud Marketing Labs,” I found that my fans also liked HubSpot, MarketingProfs, Moz, and Social Media Examiner, among others.
It is quite reasonable to assume that some of the fans of these pages will also value my content, and these are the readers you want to target with your blog marketing plan.
Step 3: Create a unique reading position
You’ve defined the goal of your blog post and you know where your readers hang out. Now it’s time to answer the question, Why should someone read my post?
Remember, there are 2 million blog posts written every day. That means when you hit publish, you’re competing with 1,999,999 other posts.
No doubt, you’ve heard the term Unique Selling Position — the reason why a person should buy your product or service, rather than that of your competitors. In order to get your audience to give their attention to your blog post over your competitors’, you need to create what I call a Unique Reading Position (URP).
Here are three simple ways to create a URP:
- Show results: Anyone can write a “how to” post. But most of the time, these posts are full of generic, unremarkable, “me-too” content. If you’ve read one “how to get more email subscribers” post, you’ve read them all.
When Noah Kagan of Appsumo wanted to write a blog post to show how to start a business in 24 hours and earn $1,000 in profit, he didn’t just sit down to write the post. The first thing he did was start a brand new business in 24 hours and try to make $1,000 in profit.
The blog post he then wrote documented the steps he took to launch that business. He provided the email scripts he sent to his friends. He showed the Facebook status updates, and Twitter updates he sent to his network. He showed how he asked for referrals. And he showed his revenue and profits.
His post wasn’t just some high-level “10 steps to start your first business” kind of post. It showed potential entrepreneurs exactly what they needed to do to benefit from his experience and advice.
- Tell a personal story: I’ll never forget the day I was introduced to my friend Jon Morrow. We didn’t meet through a mutual friend, or on the phone, or even through email. In fact, I was introduced to Jon on the day I read one of his brilliant Copyblogger posts, “On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas” — it’s one of my personal favorites, as well as one of the most successful posts in the history of Copyblogger.
The post chronicles his life, a baby born with a rare neuromuscular disorder that was supposed to kill him by age 2 — a disorder that left him paralyzed from the neck down. In it, he tells the story of how he was able to overcome these obstacles to become a popular blogger and successful businessman.
I was so inspired by his blog post, I soon became a customer of Jon’s, then an apprentice, and finally a friend. Not all of us have overcome death and paralysis to build a successful company. But we have all faced failures and overcome obstacles, and it’s personal stories like this that audiences deeply engage with.
- Create an encompassing list: When most content marketers create a list, it usually stops at “7 Tips…” or “10 Tools…” However, lists of 7 or 10 of anything will likely get lost in a sea of other similar posts.
But if you publish a list with 75 resources just on copywriting, it has the chance to explode. For example, to date the post, “75 Resources for Writing Incredible Copy that Converts” on KISSMetrics has 2,252 tweets, another 1,957 from Buffer, plus 900 other social shares.
I know you can’t pay the bills with social media shares, but you can’t deny that this post grabbed the attention of the marketing community — and gaining attention is the first step to gaining an engaged, loyal follower.
Guest posting comes with an added bonus: It positions you, your business, and your content as an authoritative resource, giving you a leg up from your competition. This built-in social proof will provide your business with warmer leads and make sales much easier.
Step 4: Distribute your post
By now you’ve noticed that in order for this blog marketing plan to succeed, you need to do your research, and then create a great blog post that will grab the attention of your ideal reader. So it would be foolish to waste all of this time and energy without doing your due diligence to make sure your target audience will find and read it.
Here are a few tricks for giving your blog content the best possible chance at succeeding:
- Guest post on other blogs: One of the fastest ways to get attention to your blog post is to leverage someone else’s audience.
On the day Jon Morrow wrote his first post on his Boost Blog Traffic blog, he had already had 13,000 email subscribers signed up and waiting to hear what he had to say. The primary tactic he used to gain such a large volume of subscribers right from the start? Writing guest posts.
Getting your idea accepted by a popular blog is not as hard as you might think. (Writing a great post that gets published is another story altogether.) Try reaching out with a script like Jon used:
- Alert influencers: If you’ve done your homework and created a list of blogs where your readers hang out in Step 2, then you now know which influencers you need to alert.
There are entire strategies for getting influencers to share your content, but I’ve found that a simple email works best.
Of course, if you have a personal relationship with the influencer, or if you’ve written a guest post for them in the past, they’ll be more likely to notice you. You can build these relationships over time, but for your initial outreach for influencers you aren’t already acquainted with, a simple email that explains why the person should share your post with their followers will suffice.
Try sending an email, like this one, to get started:
Notice, I didn’t ask for a link, or a tweet, or anything like that. Nine times out of 10, requests like this aren’t necessary: If the influencer likes your post, they’ll likely share it with their fans or followers of their own accord.
- Facebook ads: A third way to get attention to your post is to pay for it. For example, Appsumo’s Noah Kagan turned his Facebook update into an advertisement:
By using the “Pages liked by people who like your fan page” search, you can begin to find a list of fan pages to target your ad.
The truth about successful blog marketing
Write an average post, click publish, share on social media, and hope for success. This is the process many content marketers will use when they write their next blog post. Then they’ll wonder why their content marketing is failing to bring them more business.
But you know better. You know you’re in a fight for the attention that will help your blog posts to reach new prospects and drive greater business success.
So roll up your sleeves. Get dirty. Audiences are waiting to hear from you.
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