Every article about small-business marketing seems to say the same thing: A blog is important for makers. Too often, though, new bloggers find themselves having written a great post and taken gorgeous photos, only to hear crickets once they publish. You can’t wait for people to find your content — you have to spend just as much time sharing it as you do creating it.
There are two main ways to promote your posts: outside media and social media. In addition to trying to get new eyes on your work, make sure you have some “calls to action.” In other words, make sure you ask visitors to sign up for your newsletter and follow you on social media, in the hope that a majority become customers as well as readers.
There are several content aggregators that constantly search for new projects and posts to share with readers who love getting a variety of ideas from different sites in one spot. Each site will have its own stipulations for submission. For example, Craftgawker.com requires a square image of at least 550px. They ask you to write a short description and designate several different tags for the project, and they have stringent photo quality requirements.
Prolific Pinterest users and magazine editors, who appreciate being able to browse through curated and diverse projects, often use content aggregators. Even if you don’t see a significant boost in direct traffic from the initial share, you are more likely to be featured in future “round-up” style posts or highlighted in a magazine when your work is on these sites.
Mei Pak is an entrepreneur who consults with creative businesses at Creative Hive Co. — a company Pak started after building a successful handmade jewelry business, Tiny Hands. When Pak realized she needed to find a new audience for her new venture, she turned to guest blogging. She posted on six popular blogs within a few months, building up name recognition and amassing a new readership.
“I look for the easiest path to getting the most results,” Pak says. “In the world of marketing, this means borrowing other people’s existing audiences instead of creating your own, which can take years.”
“If you’re a product-based business, getting featured on a ‘Top 10’ list post on Buzzfeed will bring you tons of new traffic and sales. As someone who’s in the business of selling information, you can share your knowledge on other blogs whose readers are your ideal customers. It’s a valid and very effective shortcut for spreading the word about your business,” Pak says.
Targeted guest posting can be a great way to introduce yourself to new readers. Make sure to pitch a relevant topic and then include a link back to your own post in an effort to draw people over. Look for established sites that already have social media followings and a built-in readership, come up with some post ideas, and send off your pitch. Using a tracking link service like bit.ly or a specialized coupon code can help you calculate your click-through rate, allowing you to evaluate your guest posting strategy.
Several sites republish work in full, which can put your name in front of millions of readers across the world. These are known as syndication sites.
Alida Lee, who writes at AlidaMakes.com, took matters into her own hands and directly contacted a major news site to republish her work. Simply searching “how to pitch The Huffington Post” gave her direction; she emailed to submit her post and heard back quickly. Her friends and family all shared the post, excited that she was gaining national recognition, and she saw a dramatic increase in traffic for the first few days, which then tapered off.
Lee attributes much of her loyal, consistent readership to something completely different — participating in Project Run and Play, an online sewing event. She was in the 2011 season, as a new blogger and beginner sewist, and connected with her competition afterward to form an active sharing group. By sharing one another’s posts and commenting, they all grew their audiences.
Forums & link parties
Most hobbies have at least one forum dedicated to the craft, like Ravelry.com for knit/crochet and PatternReview.com for apparel sewists. Sharing your blog posts with a group of passionate users can be a big hit, but keep in mind that many forums (and users) frown upon simply “dropping links” and not participating. Taking the time to get involved with hobbyists in your niche can pay off, as they will begin to share your posts for you and you will gain insight into potential new topics by reading the other discussions.
Link parties have become less common as social media grows, but they remain a free way to get connected with a larger readership. The popular DIY site Tatertots & Jello runs a regular link party that regularly receives more than 400 entries. Party organizers choose a few posts to be featured the next week and also pinned to a group Pinterest board with more than 250,000 followers. Be sure to read the rules as each link party has different requirements.
Social media has become more and more popular and is constantly changing. The current main platforms include Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon. It can be overwhelming to dive in and create a profile for each site, but do a little searching and see where you think your readers might hang out most often. Each platform’s format lends itself to a different image size — long, vertical images, for instance, perform much better than horizontal images on Pinterest. Many bloggers typically write their posts and then create one image for Facebook and one image for Pinterest, to encourage more engagement on each platform.
Structured sharing groups
Structured sharing groups allow bloggers to collaborate with one another, asking for specific things like blog comments, pins or Facebook shares. These types of sharing groups make it easier for everyone to share one another’s content and drive up everyone’s engagement. Most social media platforms work off of an algorithm, so that the more people that like/share/repin/comment on your content, the more people see it. This can make it hard to get traction as a newer blogger, but sharing groups level the playing field.
Becky Jorgenson, who writes at PatchworkPosse, has found benefits in being involved with active collaboration groups and says she did virtual “cold calls,” reaching out to peers to see if they were interested in working together in order to boost social media engagement.
Jorgenson says it can be daunting to organize a group.
“Some of those whom I reached out to weren’t interested, because they were working on different goals at the time, which is just fine,” she says.
“Ask for referrals,” Jorgenson advises:. “[Ask] ‘Do you know anyone who would be interested and could you send me an intro?’ Before you know it, there are a few [people] ready and interested and willing to put in a little bit of time or whatever is needed for the sharing network.”
Some considerations for participating or starting a sharing group are to set deadlines, decide whether you will have minimum follower counts, and outline what types of posts will be shared in the group (e.g. only sewing, only blogging tips, everything crafty).
Hashtags & Group Boards
Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by a pound sign (#) that become hyperlinks that connect to others who used that hashtag. Most popular on Instagram and Twitter, hashtags can be an easy way to connect your blog post within a niche. Brainstorm successful bloggers who write similar content to you and check out what hashtags they are using – and maybe think of creating your own and asking others to join in.
Pinterest has an easy way to build a collaborative audience with group boards, which have multiple authors. Each author’s group of readers is added to a shared board, creating a large following with similar interests. There are specific Facebook groups dedicated to sharing-group boards that are accepting new contributors, or you can contact boards directly. Want more information on how to join a group or find out if they are open to new authors? You can typically look in a group board’s description to find out that type of general information.
Tagging, Notifications & Direct Contact
On Twitter and Instagram, you can notify another user by including their username with the “at sign” (@) in front of it. Did you use a certain brand’s products in your tutorial? Follow another blogger’s instructions? Notify them so they see your link, and hopefully reshare it. On Instagram and Facebook, you can also “tag” someone in your photo, which will also include it on that person’s profile (although they can remove it from public view, if they don’t want to share tagged photos).
Sites that are active on Facebook often share five or more links a day — leaving them constantly searching for content that will excite their followers and increase engagement. You can always reach out on Facebook and share your own post on their wall, with the hope that they will turn around and share it with their readers. Nicole, who blogs at 365ish Pins, routinely shares on other pages that encourage submissions — for instance, she always sees a bump in traffic when Jamie of Love Bakes Good Cakes shares her posts with over a million of her Facebook followers.
Your post published, now it’s time to share it:
- Group boards
- Keyword rich descriptions
- Vertical images
- @-mention related companies/brands
- Horizontal images
- Tag and @-mention related companies/brands
- Square or vertical images
- Tag related companies/brands
- Horizontal images
- Vertical images
- Be sure to “stumble” other sites twice as often as you submit your own content
- Include in your own newsletter
- Craft Gossip
- Craft Gawker
- All Free Sewing/All Free Crafts
- Link parties
- Syndication sites
- Did you use or mention a specific brand in your post? Can you reach out to them?
- Are there any natural partners who might enjoy sharing your content with their audience? For example, you wrote a post about “how to sort jewelry findings without spending a ton of money,” so maybe there’s a group of jewelry artisans you could reach out to.
Make a plan
The overarching theme for all promotion methods is relationships. No matter how beautiful your pictures are or how creative your tutorial is, it is highly unlikely that people are going to organically find your blog post when you are just starting out. While you’re working to get your blog posts noticed, take a few minutes and interact with other bloggers’ work. As the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all ships.”
If you’re feeling stuck, stop and think about how you found your favorite blogs, or what motivated you during your last small business purchase. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, pick one strategy and turn it into a habit. Driving all of this traffic and having people link to your site will eventually build up your credibility with search engines and people will find you via Google and other search engines. With a little digital elbow grease, you will build an audience that is excited to read every post you share.
Stephanie Woodson is a Midwestern blogger who loves trying everything creative. Making things keeps her sane while wrangling two young kids; some of her passions are handmade toys, using up the tiniest scraps, and upcycling/refashioning. Find a toy sewing pattern or get inspired to try a new craft at swoodsonsays.com, While you’re there, be sure to check out 100+ links to help creative bloggers make more money, boost traffic, and network.