There were a lot of things I didn’t know when I first started blogging. After two previous blogging endeavors that were minorly successful for the time and energy I put into them, I was under the impression that blogging was fairly simple.
The process, in my mind, went something like this: Write, proofread, publish, and then wait for people to find your work.
Little did I know how much effort it actually takes to get in front of the correct audience and develop growth over time. Thankfully I’ve had a lot of mentors this time around who have taught me skills like self-promotion, marketing, and how to use social media to benefit your blog. Here are some of the insider blogging secrets I didn’t know as a newbie!
Yes, it seems like a dirty word, because some people who self-promote have ZERO CHILL. If you’ve ever had a friend who has gotten wrapped up in a pyramid scheme business or is a brand new, overly excited blogger, you probably know what I’m talking about here.
Repeat after me: Self-promotion is not bad.
Self-promotion is merely an item in a blogger’s tool belt. You can use it with tact and tastefully share your work when it is appropriate and acceptable, or you can be that person that floods everyone’s Facebook feed during every hour of every day for a week with the same blog post. Don’t be that person, please.
It is vital to growing your audience and finding the people who connect with your writing for you to learn how to self-promote. Contrary to what I thought going into things, the people that are highly successful bloggers don’t just write well, post it, and twiddle their thumbs as they wait on fame and fortune. They self-promote so that their writing doesn’t just get seen by four people on WordPress.
#2 Social Media
This brings us to the topic of where you can self-promote.
There are social media platforms that I didn’t even know existed until I started blogging. I’ve joined Twitter, StumbleUpon, Yummly, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat (Hey, Gary Vaynerchuk uses it for his business…) and many other social media sites that were recommended to me by seasoned bloggers. Not all of them have been successful for me, but a few have increased my traffic significantly, so I spend my energy promoting there.
What platform you find the most success on is highly dependent on what kind of content you are creating. For example, if you are a food blogger, you will likely do well on Yummly and Pinterest. Find what works best for you and then spend the majority of your promotion time there so you don’t spread yourself too thin.
#3 Facebook Groups
Do you ever wonder how one of your favorite bloggers got so many likes on a Facebook or Instagram post? The answer might surprise you.
Facebook groups are a common tool used by bloggers to help with various things on social media, usually by boosting a post’s reach via participation threads. The threads are all different, but most groups have repin/like Pinterest threads, blog comment threads, like/comment Facebook threads, Twitter retweet threads and StumbleUpon threads.
There are also follow-for- follow threads in which bloggers follow each other to bump their numbers on social media. Unfortunately for many bloggers, not everyone plays fair, and someone people will unfollow everyone they followed to lower the amount of people they follow and make themselves look better. If you do choose to participate in threads like these, there are apps like Crowdfire (though they are sometimes controversial) that will track new follows and unfollows for you.
Participating in some of the threads in Facebook groups can be controversial, and some threads go against the terms of service of different social media sites like StumbleUpon. You need to be careful and research what you can and can’t do and what the consequences are for each of the threads before you decide to participate in them.
If you do decide to participate in a thread, I would choose a voluntary one where you can throw your content or profile in and people can follow you if they genuinely like your content or message. This way, you end up with honest growth and engagement, even if it is slower than a follow all or like all thread.
#4 Paid Everything
This is potentially the most controversial secret of bloggers that I didn’t know before I started.
Some bloggers buy their success. This is the internet, where you can buy a celebrity’s used kleenex on eBay, so it should come as no surprise that you can buy followers by the thousands, likes, and engagement on nearly every social media platform available. While many have argued that the idea behind this is to get more genuine followers by inflating your engagement and follower numbers, there are a lot of different things that could go wrong. Buying likes and followers is viewed as dishonest by many and, just like participating in certain threads, usually goes against the terms and services of any given social media platform. The latest scandal I heard about was buying likes on Instagram to get your post prioritized so it will be shown to more people.
I once knew a blogger who started out and immediately bought 10.000 likes on her Facebook page. Everyone questioned how it grew overnight, but many of us saw right through her excuse of “people just like my content”. Unless you have a viral post, growth like that happening literally overnight is unachievable, especially in your first month or two.
Every social media I am on offers the option to boost a post or create an ad campaign, so if you want to throw money into marketing, I would suggest working with the social media directly, rather than risk a bunch of likes on a post or page from people who don’t even speak the same language as you. It looks suspicious and dilutes your page reach to your actual followers.