There is nothing more frustrating than putting together a beautiful 1,000+ word piece of content only to see it never go anywhere. I don't want this to ever happen to you or the hard work that you put in. There is a saying that for every minute you spend producing the content you should spend four pushing it out. The same generally goes for investing funds to advertise your blog. I'm going to take you through the recipe that helped me grow blogs over the years.
Step 1: Research Topics and Build a Content List
I have a few tips that I use to figure out a content list to work on or farm out to freelance writers. The first tool I invest in is Buzzsumo. What Buzzsumo does is I can plug in 30-40 competitive blog websites to find out what is resonating with audiences through social media. The cost for a basic membership is $99/month for a for-profit or $49/month for a non-profit. I typically run this exercise about once a month to see what is working by season. If it is working for one audience, it will probably carry over to mine.
The second thing I do is figure out through Google Search Console what people are searching for. More often than not you have the content that people are already looking for, but occasionally you will find 4-6 topics to add to your Buzzsumo list to work on.
The third tactic I take is simply following many of my competitors through social media to see what has exploded for them for myself. I make note of what works and whether I have something similar.
Step 2: Produce the Content, Preferably With Evergreen Topics
What is evergreen? It means the topic has no particular timeline to it. It could be something like "Best Hiking Trails Near Pittsburgh" rather than the timely one-and-done "Best Trails Near Pittsburgh in April 2017"
You can go three routes with producing the content: doing it yourself, guest blogging or hiring freelancers. I have done all three, so let's go through the pros and cons of all three.
Doing It Yourself:
Pros: You will have it just the way you want it.
Cons: Time and Talent. Writing the content yourself takes up a lot of your time and you might not be the most talented writer.
Pros: I really like guest blogging and the concept of cross-promotion. You get an expert take and you get to hit two audiences when promoting the content.
Cons: They will negotiate expectations. This could be money or promises for pushing out their content.
Pros: You save a bunch of time and they are often more talented.
Cons: It can get expensive pretty quickly. $100-$300/article is usually a pretty fair amount.
Step 3: SEO
Make sure to create a title that plays into the way people are searching. Don't try to be cute using nicknames or trendy copy. Take yourself out of your shoes and put your feet where the person sitting at the Google search bar is. Make sure your title is short and to the point, preferably in seven words or less. Also, your secondary supporting evidence on why someone should click on your article over others should be made in the meta-description in 1-2 sentences.
Step 4: Push It Through Social Media
Now that you've created the content and made sure it will be attractive once it is indexed through Google, it is time to plan out the push for your content through social media.
The first step I started with was my Facebook audience. Typically with an article I would see whether it was seasonal or not and then schedule out posts in advance. Many brands make the mistake of only publishing a piece of content once on Facebook. In reality, each post is probably only hitting 6-10% of your audience at best. You should look to space out your content and post it 4-6 times in total with about 2-5 weeks between each post. You'd be surprised how many times you hit new audiences that haven't seen that particular article before. I'd recommend throwing $5+ behind each article, just to fuel the fire a bit.
My next step is usually Twitter. The lifespan of a post on Twitter is about an hour at best. You should look to post each piece of content on Twitter a minimum of 10x. Space is out about once every 1-2 weeks to hit new eyes. Make sure there is a visual to make someone stop scrolling.
Instagram is tricky, because organic posts don't allow for links. There are a few routes you can take with this including posting your content in Instagram Stories, posting a regular post referencing the link in your profile or simply paying up $5-$10 to hit more eyes and embed a link.
LinkedIn is another route you should take, particularly if your business has a lot of partners. I've found that LinkedIn usually does the best job of hitting a number that is close to my follower count, so don't forget about this route. If you have employees willing to share it out, even better.
There are other routes such as Snapchat, TikTok and Pinterest you can use to push out your content.
Step 5: Email Newsletter
Every single piece of content with meat on it you created should go out to your email newsletter list. Throughout my career I've built and managed several lists with open rates typically in the 28%-40% range. I try not to email anymore than once every other week and ideally just once a month. However, in every email I link every piece of content that was created within the last month. These are some of your most engaged fans, so keep feeding them content. Even if these same people follow you through social media, there is still a good chance they missed your content.
Step 6: Contact the Partners You Mention
Something that should have been mentioned in the social media aspect of this article is tagging every single partner that is mentioned in your content in your posts. It will open their eyes to you giving them some love and it is likely they will at minimum throw you a comment or like, but most of the time they will share the content to their audience.
You should link out from your content to their website, so that when they look into their Google Analytics report they see that you are sending referral traffic. Making those businesses aware of what you're doing will spread your message without spending a cent.
Step 7: Refresh Your Content
This is usually the step people most forget. A lot of times businesses create the content, but never recycle it by updating and building on content they already have. Even worse, they end up creating content that rivals or competes for traffic with something that already exists.You should look to update your content at minimum once every six months. You often get more value out of updating content that already exists than you do with creating new content.
With this in mind, you shouldn't ever have more blog posts than you could possibly ever dedicate time to updating.
Step 8: Create Supporting Visuals for Your Most Successful Pieces
This could mean commissioning a video or creating an infograph, but find ways to keep your reader engaged and sharing your content. I very rarely create visual pieces before I know the success of a traditional text piece. I want to know there is demand so the dollars and time I spend in creating something visual doesn't fall on an empty audience.
About the Author
Andy Rupert is a Penn State (B.A. John Curley Center for Sports Journalism 08') and a Southern Miss (M.S. Sport Management 09'). He has spent his whole career working in sports and tourism digital marketing and metrics.