Offline Blog Promotion Ideas – It’s All About Branding

When bloggers think about promotion, they think about online promotions like link exchanges and Google ads. While online should be where most of your promotion efforts should focus on, do not overlook the opportunity to do some promotions off line. When done correctly, they can be more effective than your online promotions. Here are a few no cost to low cost ideas.

Make Some Business Cards

Does your blog have a business card? If not, then you should make some. Not only are business card great promotional tools, they help legitimized your blog and built its brand. A business card really does mean business.

Business cards are relatively inexpensive to make. My local print shop, Unico Print Media, can produce 1,000 full color business cards for as low as $85. Yes, you can make simple black and white business card for considerably less but I don’t like going cheap on business cards. When you’re online, people don’t get to see your fancy office building with valet parking. Their only point of contact with you, besides your blog, is your business card. Therefore, you should really make it stand out.

Use Your Car As A Billboard

TTZ Glass

Head down to the local sign shop and get some vinyl letters of your blog URL cut out and stick it to your car. I have my TTZ logo etched to the glass that covers my amps, but I also have the site URL located at the back hatch. I’m not sure how many people visit my site after seeing the URL on my car but the letters are cheap to create and helps add to the brand – cool car, cool site.

moneybets1.jpg

If you have some money to spend, you can try wrapping your car. There are several advantages to doing this. The wrap does a good job protecting the vehicle’s paint. When the time comes to sell the car, just remove the wrap and the paint job will look factory fresh. The second advantage comes at tax time. You can write off the cost of the wrap as a business expense. It’s also a lot easier to prove to the IRS that your car is used for business when it’s a moving billboard.

Make Some Pens Or Other Promotional Items

John Chow dot Com pens

While many people throw away business cards, most will keep a pen or T-shirt. Pens are a really effective offline promotion item because they’re inexpensive to produce (the yellow 1234Pens.com pen pictured above can be made for as low as 85 cents each) and they do a great job re-enforcing your brand.

Normally, when I walk a trade show floor, I wear a TTZ T-shirt, but lately have switched to T-shirts provided by sponsors. For some reason, they like to see me in their shirts. I will be making a bunch of John Chow dot Com shirts soon. I plan to send on one to Shoemoney for his Free Shirt Friday. It’s a really cheap way to get a plug from his blog.

Brand Anything That Will Be Seen By A Lot of People

TTZ Laptop

If you use something that is going to be seen by a lot of people, brand it. I used to attend local LAN parties with my Dell XPS gaming notebook. The LCD lid is branded with a TTZ logo. Sarah’s personal computer has the TTZ logo etched on the view window.

Join Local Networking Events

In addition to the international trade shows like Computex, I attend many local networking events. These events attract like minded people and makes for a perfect target audience to go after. Make sure you bring your business cards and a few pens.

Be A Keynote Speaker

I haven’t actually done this one yet. However, I have received offers to keynote a few events. Keynoting is a great way to give your blog a plug and raise your name to a whole new level. Keynoting normally happens after you’ve become well known. However, don’t let that stop you. Join the local chapter of Toastmaster International and practice speaking in front of a crowd.

Get The Newspapers To Write About You

John Chow in the news

Getting the local papers to write about you is a great way to increase your brand and make the locals aware of you. Newspapers are always looking for story ideas (do you have any ideas how hard it is fill a paper with news?) and a story about a local boy making a splash on the Net is always better than a story of cat stuck in a tree.

The easiest way to get some local press is by sending a letter to the newspaper editor. I recommend you start with the biggest newspaper first and then work down. The reason for this is leverage. If you can get press from a national newspaper like the Financial Post, you can use it to get press coverage from a small local paper. Many times, you won’t even have to call them. They will call you because they saw your article in the big paper.

These are all the offline promotion ideas I can think off the top of my head. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments.


73 thoughts on “Offline Blog Promotion Ideas – It’s All About Branding”

  1. What kind of car does a dot com mogul drive? Just curious. I know if I was making the money you did I would still drive some old beater. There are better things to spend my money on right now.I can get the cars during my mid-life crisis right?

      1. Brilliances says:

        I think it’s time for a new Car John. One befitting your self proclaimed mogul status.


        Jerry

        Road to Mega Millions

      2. A lot of John’s readers have been asking the same thing for a while now. Clearly we weren’t around when that post came out. Note to self: use “search” once in a while, it actually works. πŸ˜†

  2. Fukkad says:

    I think the Moguls get tired of all the BIG stuff and finally get down to LITTLE ones like us mortals! πŸ˜‰

    anyways, u doing a blast with blog if it remains so. its a superblog for u also, right!

  3. Alex says:

    I make some mousepads :p If you want, i can send you one of John Chow :p

    John, please read your email…

  4. Wow great post. I’ve always had a lot of fun with offline marketing – there are so many creative things you can do. The only downside is it can be hard to measure how successful it is.

    1. John did a separate post about making use of offline marketing a while back — very interesting stuff. Publicity, both online and offline, is definitely good for your brand.

  5. Love the ideas. Once a little more income is generated maybe I can afford to make some of these things.

    1. You’ll have to invest first to generate some income…either time or money.

    2. I think many of these ideas would be great for offline businesses as well as online ones!

      I really need inspiration!

  6. Oh, and also maybe make a TShirt to send to Shoemoney! πŸ™‚

    1. Brilliances says:

      yeah, sounds like a cheap way to get some kudos from a high traffic site!

      I’d make a t-shirt if only I could settle on a logo…


      Jerry
      Road To Mega Millions

    2. Something with an olive branch logo — that would be so cool (and a little funny, too).

  7. Getting media attention is a great way I have used to build my website status. We do a new PR almost every week and have been covered in local and international media. If you do the work to sell one reporter they will do the work to sell thousands of people about your website.

    We even built a tool to help bloggers get PR: http://www.evancarmichael.com/Tools/Press-Release-Builder.htm

    Enjoy!

  8. Samir says:

    And lying somewhere between the tip about broadcasting your URL from your car and branding your blog with a business card is the subtle but sometimes very effective idea of broadcasting your business card.

    Once you have a business card, what you basically have a portable advertisement that you carry with you all the time and that can be left anywhere you please. Conveniently leave one of your business cards at interesting public places. You’ll be surprised by the effectiveness of this.

    I know if I found an impressive card with a large URL on it, I would be curious to find out what it was.

    1. We made a flyer with double sides, including a general description, lots of contact information!

      We also made a newsletter, available online…

      Posters discretely stuck up work too.

      A banner or two.

      Leave small piles of flyers *cough* accidentally *cough*.

      I’ve considered just dropping a card with my URL should work!

      Any others..?

  9. Bryan says:

    I look up URL’s I see on cars and offline a lot but they are usually a waste of time and its just a one timer.

    1. Brilliances says:

      I notice the URLs but forget them by the time I have access to a PC. πŸ˜•


      Jerry
      Road To Mega Millions

    2. I’m guilty with the same thing — can’t remember them at all! But think about those who do remember and end up sticking around the site — it still is potentially a great marketing tool.

  10. Mike Panic says:

    Biz cards are a must! I’m a big fan of 4 color front w/ blank back, that way I can use them as notes or write things on the back for the person I’m giving them to.

    You can get very cheap custom cut vinyl graphics for your car. Be aware, if you are an a*shole driver with road rage, it will give whoever you run off the road an easy way to find you.

    If you live in the US, Contagious Graphics (no referal link) does a “garage” special sale of 48 t’s with either black or white ink, front or back (not both) for $4 plus shipping. You really can’t beat that. If you are a one person blogging machine, that’s one shirt per weekend of the year w/ 2 weekends off to wash them all!

    Depending on the niche of your blog, local advertising can be dirt cheap. A co-worker’s 6 year old races midget cars, they just built a new track and needed some sponsors. $500 bought a 3′ x 8′ billboard on the inside of the track wall for the entire season. For a blogger that needs local exposure (think specific city guide / family / recreation / etc.) – that is a small cost for such a large add over a period of time.

    Stickers: everyone loves stickers – the above link to Contagious also does stickers… so does stickeryguy.com.

    1. Blank background for extra writing space — that’s smart. I’ve always had those frilly eye-catching ones. I think it’s time to revert to simple yet functional.

  11. Andy says:

    Car advertising looks good. Also, i bet the newspaper advertising generates alot of traffic.

    1. I have been seeing a lot of those rolling ads (cars and trucks) around where I live. Some businesses even pay other regular car owners to plaster brand names and products on their cars. Initially, I thought to myself who would even consider doing that to their car?! People who want to make big bucks and get their brand out there, that’s who. Nothing is wrong with that; I realize that now.

  12. Tino Buntic says:

    Awesome tips, John.

    Now, for a warning… Putting any type of lettering or signage on your car automatically classifies it as a commercial use vehicle for insurance purposes. If you don’t disclose that to your insurance company and pay the extra premium, you get in big trouble if you have an accident and the adjuster notes it. They can decline your claim if they are evil (Insurance companies are evil) or cancel your insurance due to “material misrepresentation,” in which case you pay multiple times more to re-insure as a “high risk” driver.

    I assume this is the case with government run insurance like CBC in BC. That’s how it works in the rest of Canada and, I assume, The U.S.

    1. That’s really good to know; thanks for the heads up!

  13. Marc says:

    excellent post john, love the ideas on the pens. I might implement it at a local computer fair

  14. Alex Ion says:

    The local events combined with promotional products is gonna rock. Good job on the article.

    Alex

  15. Tony Vu says:

    Thanks for your inspiration to start a weblog. I am now following your easy steps to set up one. Thanks John Chow!

    1. Mason says:

      lol easy steps. if only it were really easy to make 15k a month πŸ™‚

      1. Joshua says:

        I’ve already made 15k this month and my blog only has one post! 😈

        Link bait?

    2. The world could sure use optimism like yours! Good luck on that weblog! πŸ™‚

  16. Casey says:

    Very nice ideas for offline promotion. Don’t think a national newspaper would want to feature my blog though. πŸ˜›

  17. HMTKSteve says:

    I have begun seeding the new Pokemon “Global Trade Station” with rare Pokemon named “HMTK.COM”. How’s that for branding and targeting your core audience?

  18. david says:

    Another idea: lay out some cash to sponsor a local community event. My town is having the annual “Riverfest” street party in July, and I just found out that sponsorships start at only $250. Could be a goldmine of publicity.

    1. Local sponsorship efforts do get your brand out there; great suggestion.

  19. kelly says:

    HI!
    I like your blog john! And my friend got my job as blog editor for small job site. It’s a start.They are nice to give me opportunity. It’s better than working at korean department store. Any ideas about a blog that attracts people about jobs? Its hard. Any help will be appreciated.

    thank you

    Kelly

    1. Hey, Kelly! You might want to check out Jane’s blog careerramblings dot com. She’s been guest blogging on John’s site, too. Hope this helps. πŸ™‚

  20. Wallace says:

    not every normal blogger has the budget to do the above offline promotion…

    1. True, true, but advertising is an investment and anyone who really wants to get their brand out there has to make room for promotions.

    2. Joshua says:

      Thing is, it didn’t cost John much (A stamp? Some time?), if anything, to get into the newspaper…so?

      You’ve gotta be able to find inspiration, or at least something you can rip off directly for free.

      What are you looking for? Totally free, no thinking required, instant solutions? :mrgreen:

      When you find them, please blog about it!

  21. Mybloggo says:

    I like that car……

  22. shaun says:

    I like the idea of the car advertising haha put that on a fancy car bet that will drive some traffic

  23. Hustler says:

    tattoo the site on your ass and wear a thong to the beach. i’m sure you will be noticed :mrgreen:

    1. Mason says:

      gross πŸ˜› who would stare at someone’s ass long enough to take note of the url? lol

    2. Joshua says:

      Actually, there are these guys here (Vancouver) who started TattooAD (can’t seem to find them anywhere though…maybe wrong name).

      They tattoo people (really they are the middle men) with logos of companies who want to be seen in an unconventional way!

  24. InvestMe says:

    that was good idea john! you’re always my idol πŸ˜†

  25. Ankur says:

    I LOVE OFFLINE MARKETING!! It gets you curious , thats what i love about it!

    Distribute your shirts or pens for free and see the way people FLOCK for it, especially in public places!

  26. kelly says:

    On the letter to newspaper, was it an email letter or regular letter sent to them?

    thank you

    Kelly

  27. Mason says:

    those are some great tips. I’ll be sure to use them once I get a chance(once I start earning more lol).

  28. raveemenon says:

    πŸ™‚

    John, I appreciate your enthusiasm in sharing the information. Though I am still a smalbie in blog promotion , I am enjoying the work. Good Luck To you.

  29. First of all i would like to say “Hello” to all. I am new to this blog as well as new to the blogging world.

    I would like to have one of those pen John. How can i get them? πŸ˜‰

  30. Martin says:

    Hi John, I am a newbie in a blog world, and learn a lot from yours. My games4us blog about games, toys, and digital lifestyle is build one month ago need much improvement. Appreciate if you could visit and give your advice. Thanks.

  31. Joel Szerlip says:

    Good stuff John, good stuff!

  32. Goob says:

    Good call on the local newspapers. Another related branch are the college newspapers. Most people I talk to seem to forget about them and write them off as being novelty acts, but if you have a website that even remotely caters to the young crowd and you can get a big school to write about you in their paper, it certainly doesn’t hurt!

  33. Mike Zak says:

    Great ideas you having there.

    Might try to implement some of them!

  34. tharsos says:

    I liked your ideas! Although I will wait until I will start earning more money through blogging:)

  35. dotnetnuke says:

    Good headline on newspaper πŸ˜›

  36. Derrich says:

    I’ve got one of those out of the way. I made the paper. Although not a full-blown article like yours, John…I was still pretty excited.

    http://www.derrich.com/2007/06/12/a-notch-in-the-derrich-com-belt/

    1. Derrich says:

      Actually…I take that back. I’ve got the local events thing covered too. I attended PodCamp San Antonio.

      Ok, I’ll stop now. :mrgreen:

    2. kelly says:

      Congraluations Derrich! I am happy for you. :0

      Kelly

      1. Derrich says:

        Thanks, Kelly! πŸ˜‰

  37. If you think about it, the pen idea has been around for a long time. It’s so effective and cost-efficient that many businesses use the pen giveaway as part of their first promotional efforts.

  38. All valid points related to branding John. You have to invest some money but the return will prove wise if you can hold out to see the benefits.

  39. kelly says:

    Hi,
    Can someone tell that is SEO worth the money? It seems they charge alot of money. I dont understand. If they can get sites in high ranking in google, so why dont they just create a site themselves and make money?

    Kelly

    1. Joshua says:

      Good point!

      It’s because they are not very creative and can’t think of anything to write sites about!

      It is easier to rank a web site (through SEO-ing) than to rank a web site and convert those rankings into actual profit through selling services, products, information, etc.

      Honestly, SEO as a type of web development/optimization is worthwhile. I’m sure everyone would agree that having an easily navigable web site, with clear descriptions will only benefit the user (in turn, benefiting you).

      An SEO Company or Consultant hired to help you with your site may or may not be worth the money. Depends on many things…

      Who tells you that you ‘need SEO’ done on your site? The likely-biased SEO ‘expert’, your friend, or you? Do you have the time to learn a few things? Or do you have more money than time, and would rather someone else do it?

      It’s a catch 22 really…the ones who are really good, do have good sites or things going for them, and are way too expensive and busy.

      The ones that are so-so get bought up by all the guys who wanted the best but couldn’t afford them.

      The rest you’ve got to weed through, very carefully. Find the perfect balance between confidence and modesty. Don’t let any so-called SEO expert tell you silly things like ‘I can get you high ranked for MAKE MONEY ONLINE in less than 4 days!’ … you know, stuff like that :mrgreen:

      I’m not an SEO expert, but judging by a quick check over of your site you might have some (slight πŸ˜‰ ) duplicate content issues going on. It will affect your ability to rank in Google for sure!

      /end super late web ranting

  40. terra says:

    That’s a great photo of you! Looks like you’re going to save the world from all evil!

  41. David Wygant says:

    Awesome!

    I’m going to begin handing out pens instead of business cards.

    Great idea. πŸ˜€

    1. That’s great idea. People tend to keep pens even if they have too many.

  42. mat says:

    hey john, i did a review for your site a while ago and was hoping to get back linked. lemme know what’s up…

    http://matkishimoto.blogspot.com/2007/06/how-to-make-free-money.html

  43. david says:

    Another idea: several of us bloggers here in Great Falls (Montana) have combined forces to begin publishing a hard-copy (dead-tree) monthly “offline” journal. We each contribute an article or two, sell a few ads, and print up about a thousand copies — and then distribute them to local coffee-houses, restaurants, etc.

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