Ten years ago, it was easy to stand out as a blogger simply because the number of blogs in any niche was limited. Today, this is certainly not the case. If you’re new, it can seem impossible to make a name for yourself among the hundreds (or more likely thousands) of bloggers out there covering similar topics.
One of the advantages you do have, however, is the ability to learn from those who came before you. When I first started blogging about six years ago, the blogosphere wasn’t nearly so crowded, but there were still bloggers who came before me. So I absorbed all the advice I possibly could, and more importantly, I studied. I learning what successful bloggers did to get noticed when they were new. As a new blogger today, you have even more bloggers to study.
I’ve compiled the techniques I’ve come across in one place for you, in this blog post. Of course, not every technique will be right for your blog. It depends on your niche and your goals. I also want to caution you to manage your expectations. Overnight success as a blogger is like catching lightening in a bottle, and the element of luck is something you can’t control. But this list can help you get started if you’re looking to stand out as a new blogger. Hopefully, these techniques will help you build a foundation for success over time.
1. Write good content. (This one should come as no surprise to you. If you write amazing content, you’ll attract attention.)
2. Create other forms of content, rather than just blog posts. A lesson I learned from Lou Mongello is that you can build an audience from scratch if you’re everywhere doing lots of different things at once. Pat Flynn is also someone who does this extremely well. So don’t just write. Record podcasts, shoot some videos, take some pictures, write some ebooks, and otherwise diversify.
4. Mention other bloggers. If you can’t interview others, at least mention them on your blog (kind of like I’m doing here), and don’t be afraid to let them know when they’ve been mentioned.
5. Compile lists of the top people in your niche. Whether it’s the top bloggers or another kind of “top” list (like our Top 10 PR Blogs post), this kind of thing always gets attention. Be prepared from some controversy, since there will always be people who disagree, and make sure you do your research so your list is complete and valuable, not just an arbitrary listing of people you like.
6. Be the first to cover a news topic. This might seem impossible, but if you’re diligent about staying on top of what’s going on in your niche, you can often beat other bloggers to the story. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and get some relevant quotes from valuable sources. Old school reporting is something other bloggers will be too lazy to do – they’ll just link to you instead.
7. Fill a gap. Don’t just start another social media blog. Find your unique spin — something no one else is doing.
8. Be personable. Telling interesting, personal, or funny stories can help you stand out in a sea of how-to and list posts. Tell people about you — storytelling is an extremely popular way to bring people into the fold.
10. Put your nose to the grindstone and write! More content leads to more readers, as long as you can maintain quality. Jared Polin is a great example of someone who publishes new blog posts or videos nearly every day, and Chris Brogan has talked about how important this is to his traffic numbers.
11. Write great headlines. There’s no faster way to catch the attention of people in your niche than an intriguing headline.
12. Be controversial. People love posts with strong opinions. Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to be controversial online, and no matter what the topic, be prepared for trolls and negative comments.
13. Create a comprehensive guide to something that is needed in your niche. Yes, this takes a lot of work, but you will get lots of attention if you take the time to offer such a valuable resource for free. You can release this as a serious of blog posts (like our five-part series on Pinterest) or create a downloadable ebook.
14. Interview someone in your niche who is not a blogger. Bloggers tend to interview one another fairly regularly, and while this is a good technique to use, you can also get noticed if you interview people outside of the world of blogging. For example, if you’re a book blogger, you could interview an agent to learn what they look for in manuscripts.
15. Do reviews. If you’re new you might not get products for free or be paid to do review yet, but you can still review products you love. Make sure to notify the company/author/etc. whenever you do, and they’ll often share your post via social media or email.
16. Do something wacky and different. For example, on one of my blogs, I wanted to do some product reviews, but everyone does reviews. So instead, I wrote some fiction, which included the products in question (kind of like product placement) instead of a traditional review. I got a very strong positive reaction from this, including several companies contacting me and wanting to pay for “product placement” in future stories. Now, writing fiction isn’t the way to go for everyone obviously, but the point is, do something different with your posts.
17. Be funny. People share funny because it’s a nice way to interrupt in their work day. One thing I learned from Jordan Cooper is that in most niches you don’t have to be as talented as a stand-up comedian. You just have to be a little funny, because in comparison to others in your niche, even a little funny is hilarious.
18. Feature reader questions – and answer stuff that others might be too shy to talk about. Not only is answering questions a great way to boost your search engine rankings if you use keywords properly, but once people start to realize that you’re the go-to person for answers, they’ll start to visit your blog in waves. Don’t have any readers with questions to answer yet? Look for questions on forums, reddit, and Twitter and ask people if they mind that you answer in a blog post. (I’ve never had a person say they minded – it’s just a better way of giving them the link, since it won’t make you sound so spammy.)
19. Write long-form content, rather than show 400-word posts. This takes a really long time – four hours, five hours, maybe even more. But if you’re willing to do things that others aren’t willing to do, as John Jantsch suggests, you’ll find success. Glen Allsopp is a great example of someone who writes really long, detailed posts that people absolutely love.
Getting Noticed via Social Media and Social Bookmarking
20. Tweet replies to people in your niche. They might not notice you at first, but if you’re consistently engaging them (not spamming), they’ll start to recognize your name. You just have to be devoted.
21. Interact on people’s Facebook pages. Don’t just reply to the content they post. When possible, write something on their wall. Again, it’s important that you’re not spamming by promoting your own content. You simply want the people managing that page to start seeing your name pop up. When other bloggers in your niche start to notice you, they’ll start promoting you to their readers.
22. Advertise on Facebook. This isn’t a free way to promote your blog, but it can definitely help you find new readers who are interested in your content. (You can also, of course, advertise on other sites, pay for sponsored tweets, buy keyword ads with search engines, etc.)
23. Start interesting conversations on Google+. This social network lends itself to deep, meaningful conversation with others in your niche, so take advantage of that.
25. Comment on interesting pins on Pinterest. This is something few people are doing and is an especially good way to get noticed in your niche if you blog about something visual like food, travel, or fashion.
26. Explore niche social networking and bookmarking sites. Big networks like Twitter and Facebook are great, but in many niches, there are specific social networks you can use to get your content out there in front of new readers. For example, if you blog about web design, you can check out DesignFloat or if you blog about video games, you can check out N4G.
27. Participate in Twitter chats (also called Twitter parties). This is when everyone gets on Twitter at a specific time to tweet with one another using a specific hashtag. Usually, one person hosts and guides the conversation, and there may or may not be specific guests and a Q&A format. A great example is #blogchat, hosted by Mack Collier.
28. Create public lists on Twitter. Make them really good resources so others can use them to find new people to follow as well.
29. Be active on LinkedIn groups that relate to your topic. This is especially good for bloggers in niches like business and career.
30. Make it easy for readers to share your posts. Word of mouth marketing can drive tons of traffic if you’re a new blogger, but if I can’t really quickly find sharing buttons, I’m probably not going to bother. Don’t make it hard for your readers.
31. Create an amazing free resource (ebook, course, guide, etc.) that requires payment via social currency, like tweeting, liking or pinning. Lots of plugins can help you with this functionality, including POPSHOP (which does it all in pop-up fashion) and Tweet&Get it!, Like to Download, and Pin to Download (which give you individual functions based on the social network).
32. Participate in #FollowFriday (#FF) on Twitter. Don’t just tweet a list of people. Give a reason why you’re recommending people follow them. Also make sure you take others’ #FF advice and find some new people to follow.
33. Use hashtags (#) on Twitter (and Pinterest). This helps people find you, even when you aren’t participating in a chat/party.
34. Use Twitterfeed to make sure every post you write is tweeted out at least once. Follow up by promoting your post a second or even third time – just make sure that if you do this, you also tweet other stuff between the links, so you’re doing more than just promoting.
35. Manually add your posts on Facebook. Networked Blogs is a great app that will do this automatically, but with Facebook’s Edge Rank set up, these posts will not be seen by as many people as the posts you share manually.
36. Make sure ever post has a really good, pinable picture associated with it. Not only is this more pleasing for people reading your post, but it will also help you catch the attention of users on Pinterest.
37. Answer questions on question social networks like Yahoo! Answers and Quora. You can write blog posts to share your answer (see point #18) or, even easier, you can simply answer the questions on site and link back to your blog as an additional resource.
Getting Noticed on Other Blogs
39. Participate in link parties. If you’re in a niche like parenting, food, or DIY (do it yourself), link parties are a guaranteed way to bring new people to your blog. Basically, with a link party, you visit the host every week to add your relevant posts to their list of links, typically which all fall into a certain category. Six Sisters’ Stuff rose in popularity this way, and they have a great list on their blog of parties to help you get started.
40. Participate in blog hops. These are similar to link parties and specifically set up to help you find new blogs to follow (and hopefully have others find your blog too). Blog Hops Everyday is a great place to learn more about blog hops.
41. Write guest posts on other blogs. Danny Iny is someone who has done this extremely successfully. Individually, guest posts aren’t a big deal, but if you start posting dozens of them across a single niche, people start to recognize your name, which means they’ll be more likely to check our your blog.
42. Comment on other blogs consistently. One comment isn’t going to get you much traffic, but if you become part of a community, others who are fans of the blog will start to recognize your name. Blogs with Comment Luv are especially good for this technique.
43. Use the Zemanta plugin on your blog to help you find places to link within your blog posts. When you join the Zemanta network, your blog will be recommended to other bloggers as well, so whenever they write a post related to one of your posts, you might show up as a recommendation for them. This is a great way to get links from other bloggers, even if you’re relatively unknown. (Disclosure: Zemanta is an NMX exhibitor.)
Getting Noticed in Other Ways
44. Team up with other people. Joint ventures are always tricky to orchestrate, but when done successfully, you both reap the benefits. Think about what you can bring to the table. Otherwise, an established blogger won’t have any reason to want to work with you. An audience isn’t the only important asset you can add to a project.
46. Do some article marketing. No, this technique is not dead! Don’t just “spin” articles (i.e., rewrite them as quickly as possible) and publish low-value content. Write really valuable articles that actually help people. Think of it like guest posting.
47. Choose a killer blog name. Using your own name can work, but it might not be very memorable. One of the reasons my mom, sister, and I chose “The PinterTest Kitchen” for our new blog is that the name is a cute play on words that, we hope, will be memorable. Some other examples of really great, memorable blog names include food blog Pinch My Salt, career and lifestyle design blog Life Without Pants, and ER nursing blog Emergiblog.
48. Put your URL everywhere. Add it to business cards, forum and email signatures, social media profiles, etc. Make it easy for people to find your website. Every click helps when you’re new.
49. Do something cool with your blog design. Most blogs don’t have a lot of personality and follow a similar format. Take some risks with your design and you could attract some attention.
50. Do some live videos on Ustream or other livestream sites. Using Google+ Hangouts is great (see point #24) but not everyone uses Google+. So give some people other options.
51. Add you blog to blog directories like Technorati and Alltop. Some are definitely better than others, but doing this can help new people find you. If there are directories specific to your niche, these are often best for this technique.
52. Join YouSayToo. This is a blog directory at its core, but it is on a completely other level, as it brings in the curating and social sharing element as well. (Disclosure: YouSayToo is an NMX exhibitor.)
53. Participate in forums in your niche. Don’t just be promotional. Be helpful and become part of the community.
54. Hold a webinar about your topic. If you have a good idea, other bloggers who are more established will be happy to co-host with you or at least help promote the webinar. Lewis Howes, for example, promotes webinars all the time. Often, he isn’t the expert on the topic – he just hosts with someone who is.
55. Dominate search engines. This isn’t possible if you’re a new blogger looking to rank well for a very popular keyword, but there are several keywords out there that you can absolutely dominate if you read up on top SEO practices and create stellar content to go along with those keywords.
56. Introduce yourself to other bloggers. You don’t want to be pesky, but we were all new once. There’s nothing wrong with a (short) email that says hello. Don’t ask for blogging advice. Don’t ask them to check out your blog. Don’t ask for a link or share. Just say hello!
57. Sign up for HARO. Check it regularly and submit inteview proposals whenever an opportunity is posted where you could be a good resource (you can also submit photos to HARO, too!). Traditional media is a great way to get exposure when you’re a new blogger.
58. Apply to speak at conferences. You might not have loads of traffic yet, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to teach others.
The final tip I have for you – and this is a no-brainer – is that you should attend as many conferences as possible, even if you aren’t speaking. Join Meetup groups, organize Tweetups, and, of course, attend NMX to network with other bloggers. Absolutely nothing beats introducing yourself to people in person, and this is often the only way to network with popular bloggers in your niche who are inundated with people trying to grab their attention online.