This is what happens to every startup who has never launched a blog before.
They start writing inspiring content to connect with their target audience, hoping to convert them into paying customers.
After hitting the publish button, the founder patiently waits, refreshing her favorite analytics platform, waiting to see the traffic spike from the post. The spike never comes. She gets disappointed.
While most “How I did it” stories may have you believe that founders just write good content and end up with thousands of customers, this is rarely the case. Surprisingly, most startup content marketing campaigns end up with a blog that has great content….and 0 readers. Marketers often forget about the distribution strategy and only focus on the content planning.
Remember that you’re competing with millions of content creators across all distribution channels. If you started a blog, congratulations, you have entered the war for human attention!
But I have good news: there are many ways to hack it and get in front of your users. How? Here are some content marketing hacks for creating content that actually gets read.
Content marketing hacks for your blog
Write Awesome Headlines (And Test Them!)
Believe it or not, headlines do 80% of the heavy lifting.
Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. In fact, the headline is the main reason somebody will click on your blog post.
Within an amazing headline, nobody will even get to your amazing content.
‘On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy,’ says David Ogilvy on Quicksprout:
‘Your headline matters a lot. A great headline convinces more people to read your copy while a poor one sends potential customers searching for somewhere else to spend their money.’
So how you can really grab someone’s attention in few seconds? You can start by following the 4 U’s strategy:
- Your headline should be unique: Show personality. Make it personal.
- Your headline should be ultra-specific: Provide enough information to let customers whether or not the offer is interesting to them
- Your headline should convey a sense of urgency: Compel reader to continue reading.
- Your headline should be useful: Communicate a benefit, tell a reader what they will learn
Now what? Brainstorm at least 10 headlines and start eliminating the ones that don’t fulfil the 4 U’s.
When I think about content, I often spend an hour just on the headline. I make a massive list of headlines before choosing the best one. I do this even before I write the post!
Your next step is to A/B test these headlines. Upworthy and Buzzfeed, two of the best sites for viral content, do this all the time. They will spend some money on Facebook ads to test which headlines work the best at attracting readers. You will see a night and day difference just with these tests.
Even with few dollars, this is an experiment worth trying to give you a huge lift in your clicks.
Make Your Articles More Shareable
People on social media are lazy. You need to give your users and readers every reason to click.
If users want to share your content, it should only take them one click and they should not need to go searching for how to share. If people start sharing, it’ll create more buzz and help you reach a lot more people.
A great way to drive sharing is to learn what your audience is already sharing. Study what the trending articles, hashtags, and events on Twitter and Facebook. What topics are people buzzing about? Why are they sharing about those topics? Can you emulate their success with your own post? Pick up the trends depending on your industry and start experimenting.
Study the best content marketers today. Buzzfeed is a great site to look at. Their categories: LOL, wtf, omg, and cute are an amazing illustration of how they think about virality and shareability. People share things that make them feel an emotion like laughing. Buzzfeed’s categories show you the type of reactions you want to illicit to get people talking.
You can also study the top daily content on sites like Medium (for professional and technical content), Commaful (for pop culture and entertainment), or Tumblr (for memes and fandoms) for more ideas of viral content that you can write about.
Think about how you structure your page as well to optimize for sharing. Take a look at this article about Amy Winehouse. Every single part of that article is shareable.
Study the legends because they know how to drive traffic and their strategies DO work.
Leverage Social Platforms Like Twitter
Social media plays a key role in growing blog readership. But your social media strategy shouldn’t just consist of posting your content on your channels.
Effective social media strategies involve creating partnerships and being strategic. Otherwise, you can end up sharing links into a void. For expanding your reach, platforms like Twitter can help you build relationships with influencers.
Use Buzzsumo.com to see the power users sharing content similar to yours. Compile a ‘master list’ of these influencers and try to build a relationship. Create value with these influencers and over time, this will pay off.
‘You have to ask yourself, whenever you are producing any type of content, Who will amplify this and why?’ – Rand Fishkin.
You should also study your competitors’ social media pages. What is really working for them? Look at their data, understand the type of content they’re sharing and see how you could learn from it.
Also look at trending hashtags on Twitter. People drive massive reach by engaging with large accounts, and following the daily trends.
Engage with potential users and they’ll follow you and learn about what you’re offering if you’re providing value.
Syndicate content to relevant platforms
While doing content partnerships at a large scale is hard, this is something you need to master long-term. To get started, you can do small-scale partnerships.
For content syndication, you can use platforms like Medium to target and recruit guest writers, focusing on bringing in writers who have written at least 5 blogs with at least 500 words each.
You can then send a personalized letter with how you can help them distribute their content widely. For example, I’d send them a note similar to this one:
Fascinating piece, [Name]. Your story is inspiring/nailed it. I’d love to share your post on [Name of the Publication] (#1 [tag] publication on Medium)— a 200k readership of [audience]. If it’s a good fit for your work, we’d love to collaborate.
Focus on sharing how your publication will bring them traffic, as well as writing alongside other high profile writers and partners. Make sure to focus on writers who are on the brink of renown, but are not quite there.
Most writers will share their guest posts once it’s published, so you will get some added traffic from that as well as some high quality content that can do well with SEO and social sharing. In the long term, this will also serve as a way to distribute your own content.
Many people struggle to think through distribution channels for their content beyond a tweet, email, and a text message. Now that you have a database of writers who have a similar audience to yours, you will be able to create community and leverage it to the next level.
Now that you are ready to start amplifying your blog. Don’t waste time creating content that doesn’t get read!
Are you stuck when it comes to blog promotion – or do you have some content marketing hacks of your own? Let us know in the comments!