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Inspired by @Morgan's great question last week: What would you do to jumpstart growth at an ecommerce store?

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    over 2 years ago #

    Here's what I would do:

    1) Understand really clearly what the goal of the blog is, how it fits into your marketing efforts, what value you're trying to provide and who you're trying to reach.

    2) I'd then go and look at other blogs that are serving the similar audience. What do they do well, what are they missing. In other words, what's the gap in the market that I could fill?

    3) What content is popular and gets shared a lot. I would use tools like BuzzSumo and this strategy by Iris Shoor on reverse engineering where sites get their traffic: http://www.startupmoon.com/reverse-engineering-marketing-where-do-other-sites-get-their-traffic/

    I would also identify the thought leaders in the space. The big influencers and people with large social followings. I would research their writing and Tweets/blog posts and identify what topics they're passionate about.

    I would plan my initial content around ideas that are proven to be interesting to people in the space by writing things that are:

    - Related to the ideas that get shared a lot but add a layer of detail or research to them.
    - Content that aligns or contradicts what influencers in the space say, that leads them to share or address it with their audiences.
    - Content that has proven successful in the past based on share rates etc.

    You can use @backlinko's approach to getting influencers to share your content as he describes here: http://backlinko.com/increase-website-traffic

    Also, again Iris Shoor's ideas here: http://www.startupmoon.com/outsourcing-marketing-how-300mo-on-odesk-boosts-our-traction-by-14/

    I would also read this post on how Movoto built their blog from 2,000 visitors to 18,000,000 in two years: http://www.movoto.com/blog/movoto-com/buzzfeed-for-real-estate/

    4) I would also start to build up my own distribution network by building a twitter audience. http://www.programmingformarketers.com/lesson-2-how-to-programmatically-acquire-50k-twitter-followers/

    • AL

      Angelo Lirazan

      over 2 years ago #

      I especially like #3, learning from others who are already successful. I would also look into how community sites might be able to benefit from your content. For example, finding receptive subreddits may be helpful as well.

    • BH

      Benji Hyam

      over 2 years ago #

      Now that's a pretty solid strategy.

    • ET

      Everette Taylor

      over 2 years ago #

      Awesome @morgan - just a few things I would add to this.
      -Figure out what communities and content aggregators that your audience is hanging out at. These are the places you want to be able to submit your content to, get feedback, spur ideas for future posts, and even find guest writers for your blog.
      -Create a social strategy around your social media channels to distribute content and start to put more of an emphasis on growing your targeted audience on social media like Morgan said.
      -Use email collectors on blog landing page and Twitter Cards on social to start acquiring emails to distribute your content for those who are interested. DON'T opt in everyone in your current email list to your blog email list. Announce your blog to them and allow them to opt in.

    • DL

      Dylan La Com

      over 2 years ago #

      this is amazing. thanks @morgan!

    • AR

      Arian Rahbari

      over 2 years ago #

      This is awesome!

    • PF

      Pascal from Munich

      over 2 years ago #

      great! Thanks @morgan

    • AF

      Angelina Fomina

      over 2 years ago #

      Awesome advice! Thanks for including the guides.

    • RB

      Rachel Berry

      over 2 years ago #

      Thanks for the awesome list, what a great way to start.

    • BV

      Budi Voogt

      over 2 years ago #

      Great content, appreciate the share.

      A strategy we found to be very successful is to write valuable 1.000-2.000 word posts on our own blog, then posting these to Reddit and other relevant social-hubs for your target audience. As these are picked up, they receive more credibility and can potentially be spun as reposted content to industry standard publications, such as major blogs in the sphere.

    • ED

      Earl Dos Santos

      over 2 years ago #

      Really loved this list - thanks!

    • HQ

      Hila Qu

      almost 2 years ago #

      These are great tips.

  • DM

    demetrius michael

    over 2 years ago #

    Knowing your audience is not the same as your audience knowing you. Spend 10 hours promoting, for every hour you write.

  • ZA

    Zach Abramowitz

    over 2 years ago #

    @morgan has an excellent list -- I would add one other item.

    Interview thought leaders and experts on your blog. They will then share the content with others in their network (it's always flattering to be interviewed!) and you can encourage them to share it by tweeting at them e.g. "Check out my interview with @morgan on how to grow your blog audience."

    We grew our blog audience this way blog.replyall.me

    • MB

      Morgan Brown

      over 2 years ago #

      Totally agree with you Zack. Interviews are a great way to do it. That was one of the key strategies I used to grow my blog back in the day.

      Sometimes experts will want to know they're doing the interview on a site with traffic. One hack around that is to line up a contributed post of the interview at a big blog. That way you get exposure, the guest post and links back to your blog to grow it.

      • ZA

        Zach Abramowitz

        over 2 years ago #

        @morgan so funny that you should say that, because I did that here

        abovethelaw.com/author/zachabramowitz/

        Here's another hack -- if you can get that first interview with someone impressive you can then leverage that to flatter the guest. Instead of focusing on traffic and exposure in your ask, say something like, "Here's an interview I did with X, Y & Z."

        Focus on the guest, emphasize that you're interviewing them because of their expertise. I don't always get a yes for an interview request, but I don't get asked, "How much traffic does your blog get?" If you flatter correctly, traffic shouldn't even come up.

  • SB

    Shannon Byrne

    over 2 years ago #

    For me, building an audience from scratch is all about community and relationship building.

    Well, first and foremost. I second what @morgan said - you need a clear understanding of your blog's goals -- the value you're providing and who that value is best helpful to.

    When that blog is still just a glimmer in your eye, you should be out there talking to people in relevant forums, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, on Twitter, IRL events, etc. Ask them questions relevant to the problem or issue your blog will be solving for. Get a better idea of their specific interests and language they use to describe this problem -- then use that language in your content. Get their contact info so you can casually share it with them later. Or ask them to provide their feedback before it's public, then give them credit.

    It's also smart to identify thought leaders and influencers in your focus area early on. A great way to do this is with social listening and media monitoring. Build a rapport with the thought leaders in your space and ask the to contribute to your blog. Better yet, ask if you can contribute to theirs!

    I could honestly go on about this forever - it is my fav subject.

    I don't want to spam here, but for anyone interested, I recently wrote a post on the topic for CoSchedule's blog. Happy to share!

  • JP

    Joseph Putnam

    over 2 years ago #

    I'd start by defining the topic and the core audience. The hard part here is attempting to go broad or niche. Broad means a lot more traffic potential, niche means you're getting exactly who you want to your site through your blog.

    Then, similar to @morgan, I'd study what works on other sites based on my own observation and tools like buzzsumo. You don't want to copy exactly, but you do want to reverse engineer and create content around similar topics, something I did recently by borrowing a Movoto strategy and turning it into an infographic that's coming out on Wednesday. If it works somewhere else, there's a good chance you can get it to work for you.

    Something else I'd do is find way to leverage influencer audiences through interviews with them, round up posts, etc. This is another strategy I'm using on Wednesdays infographic.

    I'd also find as many ways as possible to create unique and amazing content. If other blogs are writing 500 word posts, I'd write 2500. If I have the resources to create a really in-depth guide, I'd do that. If you can do infographics, that's great, or maybe white board videos. Anything that's unique and done at a really high level and doesn't just regurgitate content that's been covered 100 times or more.

    Last but not least, be sure to offer a download to entice email subscribers, preferably with a tool like GetRooster.com. You should easily double your sign up rate which goes a long way towards jumpstarting a blog.

    Oh, I almost forgot, don't forget to promote your posts and also to publish consistently. Consistency is important so people know how often they'll hear from you and also provides deadlines to make sure you continue producing content. Publishing consistently once per week for a year is going to be better than 5 times per week for a month.

    • JP

      Joseph Putnam

      over 2 years ago #

      Out of all these tips, reverse engineering what works on other sites and taking time to promote posts are the top two things I'd focus on.

  • JD

    Johnathan Dane

    over 2 years ago #

    These are all great ideas! :) I wanted to get your take on this one:

    At my old company, we launched a Halloween AdWords guide and had great success with downloads and people sharing it because it was during October of last year.

    http://get.disruptiveadvertising.com/halloween-guide/

    Through Twitter ads, it gave us over 1,000 downloads, which we then turned into our blog subscribers with still great engagements and some unsubscribes.

    For a few thousand $, do you guys think that's a good idea to kickstart a blog? And then obviously continue to produce great content that people will want to read by going back to your blog and share from that.

    Please let me know!

  • AK

    Anna Kingsley

    over 2 years ago #

    Great post, thanks @Morgan. I use BuzzSumo and it's a great tool esp to find influencers.

  • JM

    Jakob Marovt

    almost 2 years ago #

    Hey @Dylan - I actually wrote a blog post on basically this exact theme and how we got 12k views w/ our first blog post with this tactic: http://blog.pipetop.com/jumpstart-technique/

    Would love your take on it!

  • DJ

    Danny J. Williams

    over 2 years ago #

    Excellent points @morgan ! All of which can re-purposed and applied to launching a personal blog. Also, programming for marketers is a fantastic resource - glad to se others taking advantage of it!

  • AR

    Abhijeet Rajpurohit

    over 2 years ago #

    Very helpful Morgan! Much thanks

  • WS

    Will Strohl

    about 2 years ago #

    The link doesn't open for me. Just opens a new window with the same GH page.

  • AV

    Alin Vlad

    almost 2 years ago #

    Here are my thoughts on this:

    1. Analyze your competitors content marketing strategies, find a gap and fill it. There’s no such thing as “Too much content in our niche. No space for us”. Anybody can create better content and get in front.
    2. Research your niche topic on Quora, Forums & other UGC websites. Find repeating questions
    Answer to those question in a well-researched, in-depth blog post.
    3. Don’t ignore Keyword Research.
    4. Find communities relevant to your niche: forums, Quora, Q&A websites, reddit, Facebook Groups, Linkedin Groups. Curate quality stuff in there, get noticed as a niche specialist, then promote your own stuff.
    5. Ego Baiting Influencers: Personal outreach & ego baiting can bring a huge traffic boost. Keep in mind to avoid a hit&go approach & nurture those newly created relationships.
    6. Create a well researched & good looking infographic. Also, don’t be afraid to do a broader pitching & not focusing on your niche media. In our case, a security infographic was published on a Social Media Marketing publication.
    7. Go for Email List Building from DAY 1. It's a foolproof blog growth catalyzer. You own the database, you own the content, you control the traction. No more algorithm change stories (Pinguin, Edgerank etc.)
    8. : Don’t be lazy or scared! Don’t focus on content innovation or get stressed that you can’t find new things to write about! Go the extra mile to write the best resource about a certain topic out there and, on the long run, that will be enough to get in front.

    Don’t settle for the “If you build, they will come” mindset. They will not come. Don’t look at content as a necessary evil. Challenge yourself, write as best as you can, focusing on the in-depth and actionable attributes. And that’s not even enough.

    Market the hell out of your blog.

    Outreach, communities, email, influencers, keyword research.

    Go all in! Don’t fall into mediocrity!

    You can find a more detailed overview on the above: http://alinvlad.com/niche-blog-growth-lessons

  • LJ

    Luke J Fitzpatrick

    7 months ago #

    I grew our little blog from 0-20K page visits (total) in 4 months, by doing things that don't scale.

    After my first blog post went out, I quickly realized that there's not much point writing content when you have a zero audience.

    So, I took a step back ... and ran an experiment.

    I decided to write about startups on Medium. I'd email founders after with my article about them, with a P.S. message that went something like this ...

    P.S. I'd really appreciate it if you would sign up to my startup essays.

    And, it worked. This had around an 80% conversion rate.

    It took me a while, and I ended up writing about over 200 startups in Australia. After I wrote about the first 50 startups, it got to a point that I had founders coming to me wanting to be included in the next set. I then partially automated this.

    I also did other things like inviting some of the founder buddies to sign up.

    And, did other things like creating a Facebook group (close to 300 members) for getting quotes in my articles. It's not solely limited to me, anybody that writes about tech or marketing can post up and get quotes there too.

    Did other stuff at networking events. Anytime I went to a startup event and someone asked for my business card, I'd instead hand them my phone with a sign up to my site.

    "Sure, here's my business card. Sign up, and you get my contact information. And, I'll even automatically email you right here whilst we're chatting."

    I explained that I personally think most business cards are kind if a waste and end up sitting in a pile. And that if you sign up, you'll remember me.

    Right now, we're sitting on just over 500 sign ups.

    We have a small and modest following.

    P.S. I think this is my first writing an answer on GH. Saw that Sean Ellis tweeted out this question - and I've just been through this process, thought my answer might be able to show something fresh.

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