5 Simple Steps to Kickstarting a Blog

This post was guest blogged by Lars-Christian Simonsen of Lars-Christian.com, a blog that talks about Internet marketing, personal branding and a bunch of other stuff.

While the blogging scene is more active than ever, it is a fact that most new bloggers will see little success with their blogs. Many of them will write good, if not exceptional content, but quit in frustration when nobody notices their content. Fact of the matter is that your blog can be the Harry Potter of blogging, but that won’t matter if you don’t actively promote your articles.

The steps I will present below are based on my own personal experience, and they are the recipe I follow when I promote any new blog or website I have created, and most importantly they have proved to work. As a note I should probably mention that they are simple and easy in the way that everyone can do them, but they will require that you put some effort into it.

Before you start with these steps, you will want to do some research. What you need to identify is where you can find clusters of people in the niche of your blog. For instance, if you write about blogging and making money online, you should easily be able to identify Bumpzee or MyBlogLog as online communities with clusters of your target audience. Similarly, if your niche is music, AbsolutePunk is a community that you could “target”.

Once you have identified one or more clusters of your target audience, you will be ready to start working on the five steps that will help you kickstart your blog. While you can obviously mix up the steps, I’ve listed them in the order I feel while maximize the effect of each step.

1. Network. This is the single most important thing you will ever do to promote your blog, and you should never stop doing it. You’ve already identified where you can find potential visitors of your blog, and now you should start connecting with them. The most effective way of doing this is to form personal relationship with a number of people. Talk to them in private, tell them about your blog (or your plans about it, if it’s not open yet).

This is extremely important because by forming relationships with people that you know are interested in the subject of your blog, you can always ask them to read, and more importantly comment on what you’ve written. This matters because having people commenting on your posts will act as social proof and show the people that are visiting your blog that it is worth their time.

2. Discover the hype. I remember that I once read a blog post containing a tip that said you shouldn’t live inside your RSS reader. Right now I will tell you that you should. Why? Because by staying up to date on what other, similar blogs (with substantial traffic) are writing about, you will get a good pointer as to what people are interested in reading. Unique content and insight is the key to being successful, but when you’re starting out you should write about what you already know people want to read about.

3. Join the discussion. As soon as you’ve discovered what people are talking about, you can use that knowledge to increase the visibility of your blog. Write an article on that subject, put your own spin on it and don’t be afraid of being controversial, because you want your angle of the story to give you attention. Your two most important tools in this step is the trackback, and the commenting feature of more popular blogs.

Don’t be afraid to link out, because most blogs will list all incoming links to a certain blog-post at the bottom, which means that your outgoing links can bring you traffic, good traffic. Just to illustrate, the past week my personal blog has been getting over one hundred visitors every day coming directly from either trackbacks or comments I’ve left at other blogs. Worth it? You decide.

4. Utilize Social Media Marketing. Have you heard this advice enough times already to start following it? If not, you really need to start doing it. The different social media instances are excellent promotion venues for you, because many of them don’t even need that many votes or recommendations before they start sending you decent traffic. Yes, it’s true, you don’t need to reach the frontpage of Digg for it to be worth your time to engage in social promotion.

Not sure where to start? Well, there are already plenty of guides out there, so indulge yourself in these and you’ll have the knowledge you need to get started.

5. Target the influencers. Now that you have increased the visibility of your blog, and hopefully even been noticed by some of the writers at the more popular blogs, it is time to further strengthen your blogs profile by targeting these people. This is the most tricky step of the five, and it can take up much of your time, but as soon as the ball starts to roll, you will see why it was all worth it.

Investigate what type of content the influencers frequently link out to, analyze it and see if you can produce similar content yourself. Typically this type of content will be different than what you aspired to in step 2, because high profile bloggers usually reserve their link-love for unique and insightful posts. Once you’ve produced the worthy content, you need to make sure the influencers actually notice it, so be sure to send them a quick email with a link. Not an essay repeating every word of the article, just a quick link is far more effective.

These five steps can be done by all blogger, old and new, and all that determines whether or not they will have any effect on your blog is how much effort you put into it. By following these steps I was able to bring my at the time dead personal blog from a mere 30 – 50 visitors per day up to on average 400 visitors per day within three weeks!


50 thoughts on “5 Simple Steps to Kickstarting a Blog”

  1. Good tips…but unless you spend A LOT of time promoting (almost like a full time job) it will take time. Patience is a good thing to have since nothing will happen for months.
    -Raymond

    1. It does indeed take a lot of time, but as you said patience and analyzes is the key of the success. I kinda rather prefer to develop traffic to a site gradually instead of making a couple days boom via social media or bookmark sites (but that is especially good when you want to build some linkbait, it works great).

      For example, stumbleupon will drive a heap of traffic, most of which is crap and people leave the site within 1 second without even taking the time to read the article, while digg and sphin users is totally different, they read the article and are even willing to write about that toipic and possibly link back to you.

      Nice guide over there Lars.

    2. i spent the day promoting. Bunch of directory submissions.

  2. Comment, comment, comment πŸ˜€

  3. jsanderz says:

    John, I totally agree with you, having your own blog is a little like having your own business as you need to be constantly attracting people to your site (business).
    I don’t know what is harder keeping up with the posting or constantly attracting readers. It’s bloody hard work but I do enjoy it.
    Regards.

    1. Wayne Liew says:

      One of the secrets to get visitors is to post relevant comments. A comment is not likely to be relevant if the commentator don’t even know who the writer of a post is. πŸ˜›

  4. YoRapper says:

    Yup, I run YoRapper.com and have been inspired by John to keep pluggin at it, the sites only been up for 2 months and is on track to be the best site in its genre. But I’m also working on it 12 hours a day, so don’t ever think this is easy. You still have to treat it like a real business, it’s not just sit on your ass and you’ll make $20k a month. Get out and promote.

    1. Bare Fly says:

      WOW that sounds like you have good confidence bro πŸ™‚ . It’s same here about my blog and I am constantly working on it. Just trying to work things out and I can see my baby blog is growing up! But there is no doubt that you have to work really hard in order to make your blog a popular one. May be it’s not impossible but its a hard nut to crack. Even worse for bloggers like us with English as a second language.

    2. Vikram says:

      Very well said. Its been about 3 months that I have been blogging. A lot of hard works needs to be put in initially. Your effort reflects, in the social network and more people join your community and regular source of comments and feedback.

      Join forces with bloggers who have started almost at the same time as you. Don’t compete, work together, and the results would amaze you! πŸ™‚

  5. This is exactly the kind of information us noobs need to improved our blogs.. Thanks a lot for the quality info.

  6. This is a really great write up, so many useful tips and information.
    Thank You very much John for such an insightful post,

    Kind Regards,
    Fabien of SmallFishBigMoney

  7. Neil Duckett says:

    Some good tips there, great guest post.

  8. And you would know, O God of blogging… πŸ˜‰

  9. Ivy says:

    I have followed advice regarding improving traffic to your blog (mostly from John’s book) and found that leaving comments at others’ blogs and participating in discussions have brought new subscribers to my blog everyday. Its gratifying to see that the content that you spent so much time creating is finally taking tracks with readers out there!

    A note about sending emails to top diggers – just send your URL and send it once or you will piss them off by continually asking them to vote for your article.

  10. vutha says:

    That is good advices. Thanks

  11. Will says:

    some blogs in a really crowded niche need to rely on those tips you just pointed out. Getting traffic from search engines for new sites is next to impossible until you become more established. I’ll try to incorporate some of these tips for my blog thanks.

  12. rocker dish says:

    maybe i will someday get to write as a guest blogger on johnchow…..
    and post such good………..

  13. Thorsten says:

    Nothing realy new, but thanks for remembering me that important basics. I still forgot most of them.

  14. Chip says:

    Very good tips. I just wrote an article about how many posts should you write each day and your ideas of promoting them seems very good for beginner and advanced bloggers.

    It takes a lot of time, indeed, but if you are decided to promote that articles, you should do it totally. A blog needs some time sacrifice πŸ™‚ if you want it to get publicly known.

  15. Some good general tips there but as you say, some of this stuff really isn’t easy. It’s not always obvious where to find these clusters, or how to find out who the influencers are.

    1. It might not always be easy, but it is definitely something that should be done. If you aren’t able to identify clusters of your target audience, you’ll have a hard time reaching out to them for sure. A cluster doesn’t necesssarily need to be a social network / forum about your topic, something as simple as a Facebook or MySpace group serves the same function.

      As for influencers, well they could be someone with a blog that has a large audience, a founder or leader of a group, or even an artist (if you have a music blog for instance) or just someone who already serves as an authority in your niche.

      I will be posting a follow-up series to this post as well, either at my own blog, or if John wants it it will be posted here, which explores each of the five steps more in-depth.

      But yes, as you and I both noted, it isn’t necessarily easy, but I believe that if I can do it, so can you and everyone else. And of course, I aim to show you how πŸ™‚

  16. Domtan says:

    Good article, very coherent, precise and to the point.

  17. Lin says:

    These are great tips, and they are all so true. I especially like the mention of building relationships with other bloggers, getting your name and niche spread around. I’ve thus “met” some amazing people and have thoroughly enjoyed the conversations in the comments section.

    I’ve often wondered about the suggestion to send other bloggers private email messages introducing them to a blog or blog post. I haven’t tried that as of yet, not wanting to deluge high-profile bloggers with emails that might appear to be spam-like. I guess an important thing would be to NOT just send a quick “here’s my URL, check out my blog”, but actually spend a few minutes expressing appreciation for a particular post they wrote before suggesting they visit your blog. Just my two cents… πŸ˜‰

  18. Michael says:

    Yeah it seems to me that one of the better ways to discuss the hot topic and put your spin on it. An example – the Google Page Rank story this past week. Blog after blog after blog talked and linked to others relating to the story.

  19. Hey John,

    I actually used every step there to resurrect my blog and its now starting to take off again. I didn’t conciously think about what I did… thanks for reminding us.

    Cheers,
    Carlo Selorio

  20. Wayne Liew says:

    I agree that networking is really important and it should be done on both small and big blogs. Networking really got me a lot of traffic since the launch of my site.

    Talking about the hype is something I somehow not quite agree with. If everyone is talking about a hype, will the topic be interesting any more?

    1. Talking about the hype is not necessarily good at all times, but it’s recommendable when you are trying to build an audience for your blog. I briefly mentioned why in the article, but to reiterate, it makes it easy for you to join the discussion at other blogs through comment and trackbacks (because obviously you’ll have something to say about it), and it gets you attention because people never tire of reading about “the hype”.

      The recent PageRank fuzz is a classic example. While I’m generally not too concerned about PR, I just chimed in on the discussion with a short post and a “theory”. I also left a trackback to about five other blogs talking about it, and left some comments here and there. Result? Almost 1,000 visitors to that particular article in less than a week.

      For any new or less popular blog, that should be well worth it.

  21. That’s quite an increase in visitors in just a few weeks. I will definitely heed your advice. My increase has been quite steady but not as dramatic just from simply posting every day and visiting other blogs and commenting.

    1. Yeah, if you some rss to point at each other?

  22. John:

    I seldom post my comment here, but I have read every post of yours. I guess that I should interact on your blog more. πŸ˜‰

    I like what you said in #4. That’s a really good point!
    Thanks!

  23. Sounds like we’re all going to be doing much more of this in the future, esp. after Google’s retrenchment of PRs…

    Kenneth

  24. Frank C says:

    One place where you can find influencers in some niches are niche specific social bookmarking sites, such as DZone for software and web developers. Visitors from these sites are more targeted than those from the mainstream bookmarking sites.

    Forums on your niche are also good but you’ll need to build credibility there and they’ll have to allow you to post links back to your site.

  25. amomandmore says:

    Thanks for these newbie blogging tips. I am a new mom-blogger. I will visit your site often to learn more from you.

  26. bocah says:

    hmm….
    i agree with you john. You is the best teacher’s online bussiness

  27. Great tips! don’t forget run a blog contest and post your blog cotnest at http://myblogcontest.com/ let more people know.

  28. Pretty good tips. Im working on the networking part a little right now. Its definately helpful.

  29. Klaudio says:

    Nice tips! Point 3 helped me a lot for my blog.

  30. One thing often said here that is true is: write a lot.

    If I blog everyday, my numbers go up like a rocket. If I take some time off, it goes down just as fast. Then I have to double the efforts to bring it back up. I don’t have the kind of blog that brings in thousands, but I don’t like losing the ones I have.

  31. Levien says:

    Yes, yes. These tactics work. But most of the bloggers will stop before they see results. There are many reasons for that.
    The solution to that: http://www.videomailmarketing.com πŸ˜‰
    New posted:
    James Assaraf (from the secret) – Change Your brain (mp3)
    James Arthur Ray (from the secret) – Million-Dollar-Mindset (mp3)

  32. Kelly J says:

    Thanks John.
    I liked the network of building relationship and get to know your neighbours in the same community. It will be very motivating when I have visitors to my site that left a comment behind. I am in the learning process of network marketing. Will drop in for more tips.

  33. Matt L says:

    It’s a tough act to balance.. We’re busy producing content (3-5 articles per day), trading links with other relevant sites, and trying to sell more advertising (all while working a day-job).. Finding time to get active on other blogs/forums/social media sites is challenging.

    More frustrating is looking at the stats and seeing that we get 1500+ visitors each day, but only getting 2-3 comments at best. How do you get more interactivity with your readers?

  34. the basics in a nutshell
    should always be followed πŸ˜‰

  35. I really think commenting on other blogs is a big factor, if you’re not known already

  36. darren says:

    I’ve been blogging only for three months and have seen a huge boost in traffic after StumbleUpon picked up one of my posts and associated it with one of PerezHilton.com’s posts on goldendoodles.

    I do agree with you though, Lars, SU traffic isn’t all that ‘sticky’. I will be looking more into Digg and Sphin, like you suggested.

    I also recommend guest authoring articles for popular blogs on your niche…it works, believe me. Build it…they will come

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