How to develop a social media strategy for a new blog

Thinking about creating a social media strategy for your blog?

In this post I’ll show you why you need a social media strategy and how to find the leading principles for yours.Social media strategy: find the best one for your blog

If you google for the term “social media strategy” you’ll get plenty of results. The problem? Most of these resources target larger businesses rather than blogs. In fact, most seem to address social media account managers, the kind that businesses pay money so that they’d run their social media presence for them.

Sure, the principles of social media promotion are the same for a small blog or a huge shopping website. However, when it comes to implementation, most bloggers can’t afford to invest the same amount of resources (mainly time) into social media. That means we bloggers have a different angle on social media promotions – one that needs to be taken into account when it comes to forming a strategy.

 

What’s a “Social Media Strategy” anyway?

It’s almost a buzzword – or buzz phrase – at this point, isn’t it? As bloggers, we can’t afford to be sidetracked by buzzwords, so let’s take a look at what this concept even means.

“Social Media”, that’s the easy part. Well, relatively easy. The difference between blogs and other types of businesses is evident here as well.

Some experts define pretty much any online presence that’s not a shopping cart as “social media”. Brick-and-mortar business actually consider blogging as part of their social media strategy! Not very helpful for our needs, is it?

For a blog, social media means using online social networks as a promotional tool. The strength of these networks almost always lies in the potential for virality. It’s the digital age equivalent of traditional “word of mouth”.

There are other benefits to having a strong presence in social networks. Basically, it’s expected of you! Your “value” as a blogger is determined – among other things – by your social media presence. For your followers, it’s a chance to show their support and – if needs be – to access you directly.

Ahh… but what do we mean by “strategy”?

As a former military officer, I know just how important strategy can be. As a commander, you are given a certain set of circumstances: an adversary with certain strengths and weaknesses, and a fixed amount of resources you can utilize. The trick is lies in “how“. Just throwing whatever you’ve got at the enemy is a recipe for disaster.

In the military, “strategy” usually applies to higher ranks but the principle is the same. Use your resources in the best possible way to get what you want. Translated into the business world, it means “work smarter, not harder”.

Now, let’s bring the two concepts together. Social media strategy is about utilizing your available resources (time, energy, money…) to get the maximum rewards from your promotion efforts on social media.

Why social media strategy for blogs is different

Blogs are a unique niche in online publishing. As a blogger, you are your brand. You’re essentially trying to market yourself and convince people of your content‘s value. Yes, many bloggers sell their own ebooks and most use affiliate marketing to monetize their blogs. Still, these products are not on the cover of your brand. You are.

Add to that the fact that most bloggers operate as “a one-person-show”. Most of us can’t afford social media account managers. In terms of resources, it’s a whole different ballgame for us.

So, does that mean you should just wing it without having a cohesive strategy? I don’t think so. In fact, I think that investing some time in coming up with a good social media marketing plan is crucial. You have to analyze your specific situation so that your resources can be allocated in the way that best helps your blog.

How to create a social media strategy for your blog

Not all blogs are the same and not all bloggers are the same. As as you read through the following suggestions, think about how you can adjust them to your own situation.

5 Basic Steps for Creating a Social Media Strategy

1. Set the right goals

Think that your only goal is to gain traffic? Think again.

Sure, we all want increased traffic for our blog but that may not be enough. Here are additional possible goals you could set for your blog’s social media efforts. Here are a few ideas:

Making actual sales

If you’re trying to sell a specific product then direct conversions from your social media accounts may be a better goal than simply getting traffic. That product could be your own ebook or e-course. It could also be something you’re promoting as an affiliate. Either way, it’s something that you could be marketing directly via social media channels, so actual sales may be a goal in its own right for you.

Networking with other bloggers

I’ve seen tutorials address similar companies and brands in the same social media platform as “competitors”. That may be a good mindset if you’re Coca Cola. It’s a terrible way to look at other bloggers in your niche though, especially if your blog is new.

Think of fellow bloggers in your niche as people you want to network with. Have a positive attitude about it. Some social media channels are golden where it comes to interacting with other bloggers. Even the busier ones tend to reply to mentions, so you can reach out to them that way.

Attracting potential sponsors

I recently started promoting my blog on Instagram. I discovered a great platform, that I actually enjoy using.

Unfortunately, direct traffic from Instagram sucks.

Listen to this: I invested quite a bit of time this month creating good photos, writing nice descriptions, adding the right hashtags and posting and interacting on Instagram every day. I gained more than a hundred new followers this month and people say they really like my photos. Success, right?

I checked my stats and lo and behold, the number of direct visitors from Instagram is 1. One single click through from my profile to the blog. I asked fellow travel bloggers and apparently, that’s the norm. Your instagram followers rarely visit your blog.

Why do it then?

In the travel niche there’s a lot of interaction between brands and bloggers. Brands can sponsor your trips or pay for reviews. And what sponsors love seeing is a large social media following, including on Instagram.

For a travel blog, creating vibrant social media accounts with a large following – especially on Instagram – is a goal in its own right. Regardless of traffic or sales.

 

2. Which social media networks are right for your blog?

 

Facebook or Twitter? Pinterest or Instagram? Tumblr or Snapchat? So many options out there, it can get very confusing.

In term of sheer traffic volume, Facebook rules. Unfortunately, I’m talking about the sheer traffic volume that goes through Facebook. Not necessarily the traffic that gets sent your way. Just because everyone’s on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good promotional channel for your blog.

Which goes to show that in determining the right networks to focus on – size doesn’t really matter. So what does matter?

Your goals matter!

Remember how we said that your social media strategy could have more than one goal? Choosing the right platforms should be directly linked to those goals.

For example, in the travel niche, I found that Twitter and Pinterest are good places for me to network with fellow bloggers. However Instagram is where industry brands (potential sponsors) are more active. For traffic, so far Pinterest seems to be the most effective.

Your goals aren’t everything though.

Your resources also matter

If you’re a solo blogger who manages his/her own social media marketing, then the most crucial resource here is your time. And my experience shows that just like with blogging about what you love, marketing on a platform that you enjoy is key here.

For example, I love Pinterest and have used it for my own needs long before I started promoting my blog there. I feel like I’m in my element there and putting time into Pinterest promotion is something I enjoy. That means I’m more likely to stick with it for the long run.

You need to find what social media platforms you enjoy and take that into consideration when shaping your overall social media strategy.

3. Assess where you’re at

You’re probably not really starting from scratch, right? Chances are your blog already has at least a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Maybe you also have some form of presence on other social media platforms as well.

Part of establishing a social media strategy has to do with a simple tally of where you’re at. If you already have a significant following in a particular network  that could mean putting more effort there will give you better ROI on your time.

4. Estimate your resources

As a blogger, your resources are most likely to be your time. How much time can you realistically put into social media marketing?

Keep in mind that this isn’t just occasional social tweeting. Once you decide on an overall strategy, you’ll need to actually work on your chosen platform. That means, among other things –

  • Preparing some sort of plan for each platform
  • posting at regular intervals for a long period of time.
  • Crafting your messages – Depending on the platform, that could mean copywriting, image editing or both.
  • Replying to mentions and direct messages.
  • Actively interacting with others.

Can you do all of the above on one social media network? Two? Three?

Spreading yourself thin is a real risk, so an accurate estimate of your resources as a blogger is crucial.

A word about maximizing resources

You may in fact have more resources than you think. If you’re still thinking about social media marketing in terms of merely operating a Twitter account from your phone, you may be underestimating your abilities.

There are many tools that can help you implement your social media strategy. From wordpress plugins that encourage post sharing, to social media schedulers.

I currently use Tailwind for scheduling Pinterest pins and it’s working really well for me. I also use a free Hootsuite account to keep a flow of tweets coming out at regular intervals. Some platforms – such as Facebook – have built in post schedulers. Others – like Instagram – try hard to prevent you from using schedulers. Each social media network is different but there are almost always ways to automate at least some of the work.

5. Plan to adjust your strategy down the road

When it comes to social media marketing, setting measurable goals is easy enough. Metrics are available, you just have to look at them and see if you’ve met your monthly goals.

What happens if you fail to meet your goals though?

Determine a point in time – perhaps quarterly – for reassessing your overall social media strategy. This reassessment should include every item on this list, only this time, you’ll start with the third item: figuring out where you’re at.

Once you have those numbers, look at your goals once again and see which ones – if any – have been met. Then you need to check which networks perform better than others for you and try to figure out why. Next, take a hard look at your resources. Have you been able to dedicate as much time to social media marketing as you had planned to?

Changes across these parameters – your goals and resources – may mean you’ll have to adjust your social media strategy. And don’t forget to schedule the next reassessment. Through constant fine-tuning, you can reach the best social media strategy that actually works for you!

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear your opinions about social media strategy and what helps you create the best one for your blog.

 

How to get Pinterest traffic to your blog using group boards

Pinterest group boards offer a way for bloggers to increase their traffic. They simply have a larger than average following and if you can join them as a contributor, you can put your pins in front of thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of people.

I mentioned group boards a couple of weeks ago in my post about forming a Pinterest strategy for promoting my blogs. One of my goals was to join at least four group boards in September. I’ll be posting a report about my experiences with Pinterest promotion this month (they’re good!) but I can tell you already, I failed on the group boards traffic front.

I waltzed into this unique arena entirely unprepared. Having read one or two blog posts, I plunged right into the deep water. It’s fair to say that I drowned. Not a single invitation came in.

Time to regroup (pardon the pun) and focus on the do’s and don’ts of group boards on Pinterest. Today’s post is going to be all about Pinterest group boards traffic and how to get it flowing into your blog. It’s based on extensive research and reading dozens of blog posts on that very topic. I found a few real nuggets of great advice out there, so happy to share them here. Grab a coffee, this isn’t a short post.

How to generate blog traffic from Pinterest group boards

What are Pinterest group boards?

Group boards are Pinterest boards where several pinners add on-topic pins. These usually draw in more followers, so if your pin gets up there, you’ll get more clicks and more traffic.

Sounds good? It is, according to many a blogger. The problem is how to tap into that board groups traffic source and as is the case with all good things, it’s not easy.

How to join Pinterest Group Boards

Your goal is to join quality on-topic group boards. The kind that will get your awesome pins in front of tens of thousands of users who will then click through to visit your site and also repin to share the awesomeness with their followers. The viral effect and all that jazz.

Group boards provide you with one special ingredient in your Pinterest recipe: The ability to instantly reach a large number of people. It’s like using instant yeast for your bread instead of culturing your own sourdough.

Group boards are the yeast in your Pinterest recipe
Group boards are the yeast in your Pinterest recipe

In order to get that instant yeast magic, you have to do three things –

  • Find quality group boards in your niche.
  • Get invited to said boards.
  • Pin to the boards (without getting kicked out).

Let’s break these into more manageable questions and address them one by one.

How to find quality Pinterest group boards?

Bloggers recommend many ways to find good Pinterest group boards. Some recommendations keep repeating themselves but a few have suggested some ideas that seem to be less utilized. Here’s the complete list –

1. Use Pingroupie

Pingroupie is a directory of Pinterest group board. They crawl Pinterest to find boards that have more than 2 collaborators, more than 250 followers and more than than 50 pins. When all three criteria are met, the board gets listed in their database. Their website says the last crawl was 3 months ago.

You can search Pingroupie by category and keyword and sort the results according to the board’s size, number of repins and other parameters. Most bloggers recommend using this as your first tool for finding group boards in your niche.

Not everyone does, though. Kara Gorski says that the days of Pingroupie are over and it’s no longer an effective tool to find the right group boards for you.

My own impression is that it can still be useful for that initial comb-through but the results must be carefully assessed for quality.

2. Search Pinterest for board groups

When you search Pinterest, you can switch between four types of results: All pins, your pins, people and boards. So, you can basically search for boards in your niche by entering the keywords. It used to be possible to see at a glance which of the boards were group boards, as the little group icon used to show up in the search results. This is no longer the case.

However, if you add the word “group board” to your keyword, you can still get good results. For example, I searched for travel + group board and got this –

Travel group boards

As you can see, these are all group boards.

3. Just Google it

Pinterest is indexed by Google, so in principle, that could be another tool you could use. It’s how Windy City Bloggers find their group boards. I haven’t had very good results with that. It’s doable but you have to comb through many results that aren’t actual group boards relating to your topic. This may be a good option in some niches, or if you’ve run out of boards using the other methods.

4. Check the profiles of other Pinners in your niche

This is a time-consuming way but quite a few bloggers swear by it. Free Borboleta calls it “stalking” her favorite bloggers. The gist of it is –

a. Find the bloggers you like in your niche and track down their Pinterest profiles.

b. Scroll down their list of boards and look for the group boards they participate in (they’re usually at the end).

These would be your best niche group boards.

Mariah Halthoff goes even deeper down the rabbit hole. Once she finds a good group board, she goes to the profile of that board owner and scrolls down to see which group boards they also contribute to… and so on, and so forth.

5. The Facebook group

Apparently, there’s a closed Facebook group for bloggers/pinners who are also looking for group boards. It’s recommended by SimplePinMedia. I haven’t tried it yet but it has several thousands of members so it looks promising. They have rules on how to join so read those carefully if you’re thinking of doing that.

How to assess the quality of a group board?

Now that you know how to find hundreds – maybe thousands – of Pinterest group boards, should you really try to join them all?

Obviously not. You want to focus your efforts where you can see actual results. Here’s what makes a quality board for our purposes  –

  1. A lot of followers – the more the merrier.
  2. Daily pinning activity.
  3. A high number of repins (a sign of quality followers with an interest in the niche).
  4. Matching topics.

How to ask for an invite?

At this point, we have a list of quality on-topic group boards. How do we start pinning to them? Alas, to do that you have to be invited to the board. There are several ways in which you can try to get invited.

1. Read the blog description and look for instructions.

If the blog owner is looking to get more contributors, they’re going to say that in the blog description and tell you how to contact them. Usually, they’ll have an email address you can write to.

2. Track down the board owner.

Can’t find the instructions? You could try contacting the board owner directly. His or her Pinterest profile may indicate where you can find their blog which will probably have a contact form. You can also try finding them on Twitter and sending them a message there.

3. Find a contributor that you know

If you already have a strong presence in your niche, you can try skimming through the list of contributors. You may find someone that you know. If the board allows for contributors to invite other contributors, you can contact your new bff and ask for an invite.

There’s a trust factor here. These people need to really know and trust you because if they invite a spammer into the board, they’re putting their own place as a contributor as risk.

Which is the best way?

I prefer to work with boards that clearly state how you can join them. For two reasons. First, it’s less time consuming. You don’t have to spend time tracking down their blog or Twitter account. Secondly, if they don’t have a clear description on how to join, they probably aren’t looking for new contributors at this point. I’ve actually read an angry comment by a board owner complaining about people who bother her with requests via her blog/twitter.

How to improve your chances of getting invited?

Ahh, lots of tips and tricks here!

1. Prepare the ground

At the very minimum you have to be following the board itself and the board owner. Technically, they won’t be able to add you unless you follow both the board and them personally. They probably won’t bother with telling you to – they’ll just ignore your request.

It’s best to be following the board for awhile and show some level of involvement. Repin, like and comment pins. Try to interact with the board owner through pins, preferably by commenting. Make sure you’re responding to what the board owner himself/herself pinned recently and not just to pins by other contributors.

2. Write a good request

When it’s time to make the request, write a short and concise one. Things to mention include –

  • Who you are, including a link to your Pinterest profile and the email address that’s associated with your Pinterest account.
  • Why you’re interested in the topic of the board.
  • The fact that you’re already following them and the board.
  • If there are rules to pinning to the board, mention that you’ve read them and will be following them closely.

3. Use your Pinterest email address to send the request

That means you should send the email from the same email address that you used when you signed up for your Pinterest account. The board owner will be inviting an email address, not a user. If they end up sending the invite to the email address you sent the email from and that’s not the same as your Pinterest email address, you won’t be able to use the invite.

4. Have a great Pinterest profile.

They’ll check that, so make sure your profile is ready to be inspected. What you need is a good username, picture, description and a list of beautiful active boards with lots of on-topic pins in the same niche as their group board. If you’re serious about getting Pinterest traffic, you should have those anyway.

5. Have your own group boards

Having your own group boards means you’re a team player. You’re willing to manage a board like that yourself and reciprocate. Make sure the boards have some content and that the description includes clear instructions on how to join.

Good practices after you got accepted

Let’s say you got accepted. Hooray! You worked hard on getting there, now don’t blow this away. Here are some good practices to follow that will help you become a positive contributor and avoid getting kicked out.

1. Follow the board rules.

If there are any rules that are clearly stated, follow them. Board owners don’t want to deal with editing and deleting pins. When someone breaks the rules, it’s easier to just kick them out.

2. Stick to on-topic pins.

Read the board description and stick to it. Let’s say your niche is travel and you got invited to a board group about road trips in the US, don’t pin your general “advice for budget travelers” post there. Pins should be very specific to the board’s topic.

3. See what others are pinning and follow suit.

Is the board all about beautiful pictures? No text on pictures, just inspiration? Pin similar materials yourself. On the other hand, if everyone else is focusing on detailed guides, or infographics, then stay in tune with them and add similar pins yourself.

4. Pin often but not too much.

Find the goldilocks zone for that specific board. Some boards have rules about how often you should pin but even if they don’t, avoid flooding the board with your pins. If you’re not sure, ask the owner what they prefer.

5. Contribute – don’t just promote your pins

Repin lots of great content to the group board and not just pins that link back to your blog. This is just plain good netiquette. Contributors are there to help create a rich and diverse board on the topic, not just to promote their own sites. Also, according to Brittney Llynn, the current Pinterest algorithm will penalize you for simply pushing your content onto group boards and leaving. Your pins will have a smaller chance of being seen by the board’s followers.

6. Repin from the board

There are several reasons for you to repin other people’s pins from the board, as Blog Ambitions explains. First, it’s helping other contributors which is basic good karma. Secondly, the more repins the board has, the better its score in the Pinterest search algorithm. By repinning from the board, you’re helping to promote it – and that includes promoting your own pins too.

Generating Pinterest Group Board Traffic: The Plan

I’m going to give this another try and be much more methodical this time around.

So far, I just grabbed some boards off Pingroupie and mentioned in comments to pins that I’d like to join them. Zero response and now I can see why. It’s time to get more serious about this. As I mentioned in my previous post, this month I’m focusing on promoting my travel blog, so here’s the plan for getting Pinterest group board traffic to that blog.

1. Create a spreadsheet with 10 travel-related Pinterest board groups that meet the following criteria –
a. More than 5000 followers.
b. High rate of repins.
c. Owner has instructions about how to join (telling me he/she is actively looking for contributors).

2. Follow these boards and the board owners.

3. For one week, visit these boards daily, repin at least 2 pins from each one and leave at least one comment. Preferably, on pins by the owner.

4. Contact each of these board owners via email (as specified on their board) and ask to join as a contributor.

In two weeks time, we’ll see how this pans out. Expect a report back from the trenches sometime in mid-October.

How about you?

Are you using Pinterest? Are you a member of any board groups in your niche? I’d love to hear about how you joined and what your thoughts are about the tips in this post! Don’t be shy, leave me a comment!

So, how to promote a new blog on Pinterest?

Pinterest can be an excellent source of traffic for blogs. I know because I’m getting a nice amount of Pinterest traffic to a couple of my websites without even trying! Or at least without trying too hard.

This month my focus in the Blog Revival Project is on promoting my travel blog. Traveling is a great topic for visuals. They’re prime Pinterest material. The conclusion almost begs itself: Pinterest should be at the core of my social media strategy for this blog.

The challenge: How to promote a new blog on Pinterest?

My travel blog is a new(ish) blog with a new Pinterest account. If you have an established account with thousands of followers, Pinterest is easier. Post lots of awesome pins and let your followers spread the love around. With any luck, at least some of these pins will become at least somewhat viral.

So, what about a new blog promoted through a new Pinterest account? How do you jumpstart your Pinterest traffic with that? I gave this question a lot of thought and done quite a bit of research. Let me share the key points of what I came up with.

How to promote a new blog on Pinterest

Pinterest traffic comes through pins that link back to your content. For your blog to get traffic, two things need to happen –

  1. A user needs to see a nice image that was pinned from your blog.
  2. Said user should be intrigued enough to click through to your content.

Virality happens when your pin is awesome enough to be re-pinned and get even more eyeballs seeing it and hopefully clicking through. But first, you have to reach those initial users who can – hopefully – ignite the magic of social sharing.

First things first, you need to get people to see your pin.

If you’re an established pinner with thousands (or more) followers, you can just pin your image and it will show up in their Pinterest feed. If you don’t have a good-sized following yet, you have two other ways to get people to see your pin –

  • Join a large group board on your topic.
    If you manage to do that, you’ll be able to pin your content and get it in front of all of the board’s followers right away.
  • Get your pins to show up on Pinterest searches.
    It’s a bit like Google SEO. You want to craft your pins in ways that will increase their chances of coming up when people look for specific keywords or key phrases within Pinterest.

Joining group boards on Pinterest

These are Pinterest boards where the owner gives other Pinners permission to pin directly to the board. If you find established group boards with a large following, you could potentially get a lot of exposure at once.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. You can’t expect someone else to do the hard work of growing a quality board for you to just waltz in and essentially spam the board with your pins. If this is a quality group board with real human (not fake) followers then the owners are probably quite discriminate as to who they let in as a pinner.

Which is why I don’t consider Pinterest group boards to be “easy traffic”. It’s going to take time and effort to establish a presence in quality group boards by commenting and interacting first, and then pinning quality content from various sources, not just my own blog. I still think it’s a channel that’s worth pursuing for a new blog with a new pinterest account. I’m just saying it’s not a source for instant traffic.

“SEO’ing” for Pinterest

Pinterest isn’t just a visual bookmarking service. It’s also a visual search engine. Many people turn to Pinterest when they’re looking for a recipe, or inspiration for their latest crafts project. When your pin that comes up in the first row of images in the search results, that could mean traffic to your blog.

Pinterest keeps changing its algorithm but that should not deter you. As long as you’re not trying to manipulate search engines (be them Google or Pinterest’s internal search engine), you should be ok. The general idea is to provide Pinterest with the right amount of textual information about each pin. I’ll elaborate on the techniques in a minute, when I get to the actual list of tips and ideas.

Don’t forget to have awesome pins!

Awesome content always comes before promotion.

Pinning on group boards and optimizing your pins are simply ways to gain some initial exposure.

In the end, everything needs to come together. The harmony of promoting on Pinterest is made of excellent graphics, optimized pins and good pinning channels. Mix well, season with a bit of luck and use regularly.

And now, it’s time to wrap everything up into a list of actionable items.

Promoting a new blog on Pinterest: Action Items

1. Get a “Pinterest for Business” account

Anyone can do that and it’s even free. A business account adds Pinterest Analytics to your account so you can track your pins and see how they perform.

2. Set up Pinterest templates

Each one of your blog posts should include at least one “very pinnable” image. Getting a good pinnable image is crucial. Everyone knows that it should be vertical (and it should) but there are other elements you have to consider. I’m going to blog about that in a separate future post.

3. Add descriptions to pins

 

Every pin can come with its own description. Most experts agree these description play a large role in pin optimization for internal Pinterest searches, so it’s important to include your target key phrase in there. Pinterest shows users the first 10 words or so of the description so you can use that to get people curious enough to click through.

4. Use appropriate image file names and ALT tags for all images

You never know which one of the images in your post will get pinned. When pinned using the Pinterest browser extension to pin, that image’s ALT text will show up as the description. The text for your ALT tags should aim at three targets: Pinterest user experience, Pinterest algorithm rankings and your overall onpage SEO.

If there is no ALT description, Pinterest will try and grab your page’s description or even the first few lines of text in the article. That may or may not work for your needs so usually, optimizing the ALT tag is best.

Image file names should also be optimized as Pinterest seems to be drawing on that for its search results as well.

Overall, do your SEO and keep Pinterest in mind too. User experience is key for Pinterest as much as it is for Google. Abide by the 11th commandment of ‘Thou shalt not spam’ and optimize your page and each one of your images and you should be fine.

 

5. Experiment with a variety of pins

There are many graphic formats you can use. Yes, visuals are key here but there’s so much you can do with those. Off the top of my head, I’ve had success with the following as pins –

  • A single image with no text
  • An image with overlaying text
  • Collages of images
  • Infographics

A lot depends on what you’re trying to achieve too. Infographics can help with brand awareness but won’t necessarily get people to click through as you’re already giving them the information in the pin. Collages may work for some types of images, such as long product lists, but not for others. You should really experiment to find out what works best for your niche and for your type of posts.

Applying this strategy

Going back to promoting my travel blog on Pinterest this month. Here’s the short version of my plan –

  • Prepare Pinterest templates.
  • Optimize existing blog posts for Pinterest.
  • Join 4 group boards this month.

What do you think? Have I left out anything crucial?

How’s your Pinterest traffic doing? I’d love to hear more tips and ideas about what works for other bloggers, so do share in the comments!

What makes a blog post really great?

Everyone knows that great content is crucial for the success of a blog. By creating awesome quality posts, you’re far more likely to get social shares and organic incoming links. Sounds like an easy-to-follow formula?

Ahh, but only if you can identify what makes a blog post really great for your readers. And trust me, that is not easy.

What makes a blog post truly great?

Why great content matters

Whether you are trying to get your traffic through social media channels or via Google SEO, there’s one rule that always holds true:

~ Offer great content ~

Great content pretty much markets itself. All you need to do is jump start viral sharing. If you have enough of a following, that will pretty much happen by itself. Once great content starts “making the rounds” it becomes viral because people want to share the awesomeness with their friends.

Great content is also the cornerstone of SEO. Ideally, other bloggers will link to your post just because it’s so absolutely and irresistible awesome. All of these organic links will eventually make Google realize what a gem your post is, pushing it up in the search results. Bingo!

What makes a blog post really awesome?

How can you tell if a post is really awesome?

Lots of recipes for writing great blog posts out there. I’m going to briefly cover the most commonly discussed aspects and then tell you why they’re not necessarily important. They mean absolutely nothing when it comes to determining how great your post is, and I’m going to show you why.

First, the attributes which people often mention as important. These aren’t meaningless on their own. It’s just that following these rules won’t necessarily help you.

1. Post title

We’ve all been told that a great post title can make or break a post. People have short attention spans, so you have to carve out a title that will be compelling enough for them to click. There are tons of tutorials out there on how to craft the perfect post title. Here’s one of my favorites, an oldie but goodie!

2. The length of your post

The Yoast SEO plugin recommends 300 words as the minimum length for a blog post. I’ve seen successful posts that were shorter. I’ve also seen many which were much much longer.

I think the current trend is to write extremely long blog posts. I guess there are SEO experts out there who think a lot of verbiage might convince Google that your post is truly awesome.

3. Readability & voice

There are ways to determine how easy it is to read your post. I’ll mention Yoast SEO again because its free version comes with a built-in readability checker. Which is kinda cool, really. It means you can instantly see how your text measures up to commonly accepted standards of readability.

Your style also reflects your  writing “voice” though that is a more intricate concept. Finding your voice goes beyond issues of grammar or the average number of words in a sentence.

4. On-page SEO

On page SEO is basically a question of having the right amount of keywords and key phrases in your text. Finding that goldilocks zone of not too little and not too much. It’s also about where these keywords are placed in your text and in the page code.

5.  The Visuals

A picture is worth a thousands words. And an infographic has those thousands words in the picture. Surely having such great visuals in a post will make it go rival, right?

It’s all about providing value

The bottom line of these parameters? They all try to gauge the amount of value a blog post provides for the readers.

Because in the end that’s all that really matters: Was the post valuable to the reader? Precious minutes were spent reading it so were they time well-spent?

We tend to equate value with money. Hardly the case here. Yes, an awesome post can help your readers get more money. For example, it can teach them how to place ads in the way that gets them more revenue. Or it can offer a list of the best-converting affiliate programs in their niche. These types of posts certainly can have monetary value attached to them.

However, posts can offer other kinds of value.

A blog post can warn you about something. For example, it can tell you about the latest recall of baby food or warn you about a disease in a travel destination you were considering.

A blog post can offer you just cool trivial information which you can then tell your friends about and look really smart about it.

A blog post can simply make you laugh and help you pass the time while you’re waiting in line for something.

These are all valuable posts for those reading them. At least they can be. It depends on who’s reading them and when.

Which brings me to my main point –

Who determines what really makes a great blog post?

Who’s to say what makes a post awesome? Your audience.

They – and only they – are judge and jury to this question. Not your colleagues, not your friends, not our Mom and definitely not you.

Find what’s valuable for your readers.

One of the things I’ve learned is that what I see as valuable in terms of content can be very different from what the blog’s niche audience sees as great content.

Let me give you a few examples.

Example #1

Posts that try to scare you about something, especially those with an emotional title, can be great for some audiences.

“Just One Bite Of One Of These 17 Foods Can Give You Cancer” is a post that can be great for some audiences. Some people crave this kind of information and will gladly pass on to their friends any post that explains how lemons are 1000 times better than chemotherapy.

Now, if you ask me – or any one of my skeptic friends – these posts belong in the trash bin. A very literal trash bin. They should never see the light of day. They are nothing but stupid clickbaity scaremongering.

But hey, who am I to judge? For the right audience they are super quality posts. The kind that gets shared and linked to.

(I would never write them myself, mind. I’m just saying many people find value in them).

Example #2:

I really don’t like LOL pictures. I mean, I like some of them but I think most are garbage. When LOLCats started out, I was appalled. Surely everyone will see these are low-quality images with terrible typography and horrible texts?

Turns out, most people love them. They couldn’t care less about the images being low-quality. They love catspeak. They even love the use of the Impact font. For the right audience, LOLcat pictures rock. They make awesome content.

It’s not just the images. Turns out people are ok with texts that are barely legible if you pretend they were written by a cat. There are successful bloggers out there who write blogs from their cat’s point of view. And these cats aren’t really good at grammar or spelling either. So much for readability.

These posts get shared like hotcakes in social media (assuming you’re the kind of person who loves sharing his hotcakes!) There is obviously a wide audience who finds great entertainment value in them.

Know Your Niche & Your Audience

That’s really the bottom line.

Don’t try to measure up to what blogging tutorials tell you are the golden standards.

There are no golden standards. You can have a post that has –

  • The worst OnPage SEO
  • A title that doesn’t meet any of the criteria for writing catchy titles
  • No visuals.
  • The wrong length of text (or none at all, if you’re going with visuals only).
  • Terrible grammar and spelling.

It would still get shares and incoming links and land you tons of targeted traffic.

In that sense, it would a GREAT blog post! Your audience loves it – even if it doesn’t meet the strict criteria placed by other bloggers.

And in the end, that’s what matters.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying you should start producing posts which you feel are junk. More likely than not, your audience will think they’re junk too and you can kiss your returning visitors goodbye.

What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t stick to blogging standards someone else tells you about while ignoring your audience’s preferences. Experiment with types of posts that seem popular in your niche. See what people actually like and try to provide them with that they feel is valuable.

 

How to find the best lead magnet for a blog

Part of my blog revival project includes building a mailing list for each blog. Time to work on mailing list growth and utilize lead magnets. Most online advice on lead magnets is geared towards product marketing. I need something a little different, so it’s time to sieve through the tips and ideas and find out what makes the best lead magnet for a blog.

Best lead magnet for a blog

This post covers the basic definition of a lead magnet and the adjustments needed for blog promotion. It also includes a list of 10 lead magnets formats and how they can be applied by bloggers.

What are lead magnets anyway?

The “lead” is a basic concept in marketing theory (and practice).

Salespersons crave access to potential clients. A “lead” is simply a way to gain access to a client. Traditional leads include phone numbers, physical mailing addresses and even ways to meet people in person to pitch them your offer.

In the digital realm, leads are usually ways to contact a potential client via email. Working en masse, the tool for connecting with these potential clients is often an automated mailing list.

How does that relate to blogging?

We all work hard on getting blog traffic. The problem? Once visitors arrive, read the post and – hopefully – get what they came for, they may disappear forever.

Oh, no! Gone forever?

Ahh, but what if during that brief visit you somehow managed to convince them to give you their email address? You have a way to get them back again! Woohoo!

You can communicate with them again in the future, offer new content and maybe even sell them a product or service. You have your lead!

The question remains: How do you get a visitor to sign up? What can convince a visitor to let you into their inbox?

Which is where the magnet comes in…

If you want to get your visitor’s email address and turn him or her into a lead, you need to offer something in return.

For some people and some blogs, getting updates about new posts can be enough. However, if you aim at getting more visitors to subscribe, you need to offer more than that. You should create something which will attract people to your mailing list like flies to honey! Like iron chips to a magnet! Hence, the term “lead magnet“.

Lead magnets exist all over the place in traditional marketing. They are items or services given for free, or almost for free, in return for getting a person one step closer to becoming a profit-generating client.

So, what makes the best lead magnet for a blog?

Unlike some forms of traditional marketing, in blogging we focus on building a relationship with our audience. For many of us – myself included – the mailing list is first and foremost a way to get return visitors and augment a long-term relationship with our readers.

A blog’s lead magnet doesn’t have to be geared towards selling a particular product.

A lead magnet for a blog should ideally –
  • Build trust between the blogger and the reader.
  • Establish the blogger’s expertise the field.
  • Engage the reader and encourage him or her to reach out again to the blog when they need more advice.

To do that, the lead magnet should provide readers with added value. Something that relates to your blog’s theme and expands on what your posts provide.

How much value should a lead magnet for a blog provide?

My impression is that this is niche-specific. In the blogging niche, the competition is harsh. With so many free offers jumping at readers from every direction, you have to fight for their attention and for their email address. You want your lead magnet to stand out by providing even more value than the competition.

A lead magnet for a blog: Which format to use?

Ok, so now we know what a lead magnet is and that it needs to provide a visitor with enough perceived value so that they are willing to give you their email address in exchange.

The topic should relate to your blog. In fact, some lead magnets can even be post-specific (which means lots of smaller lead magnets, spread across your blog).

But what about the format? Lots of ideas bouncing around, so I created a list, with my own observations about whether or not these would make a good lead magnet for a blog. They may be awesome as lead magnets for a company that wants to sell you life insurance but will they work for augmenting your blog’s mailing list?

1. A PDF version of a post

This is probably the easiest lead magnet of all to create. It simply means wrapping up your post and saving it as a PDF. However, its added value is limited. All of the information is there on the page, why “pay” with an email address just to download it again?

2. A tip list/checklist

Relatively easy to come up with (assuming you’re an expert). Short and concise which saves your readers’ time, enhancing its value. It may be too little in competitive niches but could work well in others.

3. A “recipe”

By that I mean, a list of instructions for creating something which relates to your niche. It can be an actual recipe in a cooking site. It can be a design plan, a gaming walkthrough or a cross-stitch pattern. Depending on the value tag of the recipe, this could be a good magnet in some niches.

4. A template

This is a great lead magnet for a blog that deals with design or publishing. It’s a bit like a recipe, only set up for a simple customization by your readers to fit their own needs.

5. An E-book

A short helpful e-book could make a good lead magnet. It’s important to let the reader know in advance what the ebook covers and how long it would take them to go through it. You don’t want them overwhelmed by an e-book that’s too long or disappointed by one that is too short.

6. A webinar or workshop

Giving readers access to a past webinar can work for some niches. I’m not sure access to an actual live webinar makes a good lead magnet. It’s too much value for this stage. However, access to recordings of past webinars may work.

7. An online course

Joining a course can work only if you have no added costs for bringing on new students, or if you established a clear way of monetizing the course. Otherwise, this seems to be too much of an investment for a lead magnet.

8. Giveaways/raffles

This is a very interesting type of lead magnet. With giveaways/raffles you give one expensive product and your readers give you their email address for a chance to win. Choosing a prize that relates to your niche and has enough perceived value is critical here.

A raffle/giveaway is always limited in duration. Which means you need to be sure you will actually be getting enough traffic to generate enough signups. otherwise, you could end up giving away a prize worth $500 for 50 new emails.

There is also a cost to setting this up. Rafflecopter and similar services offer a very limited free service. If you really want to make the most of a raffle/giveaway, you will probably need to upgrade. And then of course, there is also the cost of the prize which needs to be much more valuable than a usual lead magnet.

9. Quizzes

With quizzes, your lead magnet is usually the end result. A quiz usually takes your reader through the process of answering all the questions and then asks for their email address. With some quizzes, the results are blocked until the email address is provided. That’s not a good approach in a blog as it can frustrate your readers and alienate them.

However, a quick quiz that generates a positive outcome has other benefits for a blog. It’s a tool for viral sharing, for example. So, as an added lead magnet, it can work to enhance your mailing list. I wouldn’t use it as the main lead magnet in the signup form.

10. Coupons and discounts and real-world freebies

Offering a coupon or a discount is not a classic lead magnet for a blog. A coupon usually relates to a product or service. Your readers need to actually be interested in that product in order to sign up.

It may work for bloggers who blog solely to promote a certain service or product but otherwise, it is too far removed from the idea of providing a lead that focuses on creating trust in your brand as a blogger.

Choosing the best lead magnet for my blogs

I started this process because I wanted to experiment with a lead magnet for one of my blogs. It’s even in my task list and you can read all about that here.

I am going to use a simple tip list as a lead magnet for that blog. I think it should make a good lead magnet for a blog, being relatively quick to put together and hopefully providing my readers with just the needed amount of added value.

Next, I will be looking at signup forms to see how to make sure visitors to the blog do not miss out on my awesome free offer. Stay tuned for more, I will very likely blog about that as well 😉

Thanks for following through with the post. As always, your comments are welcome!