How do you start from nothing and create a company blog with enough sustainable traffic to reliably funnel millions of people to your website?
The key, especially early in your blog's life, is knowing how to distribute your content effectively. No one will visit your blog if they don't know it exists, and there won't be any organic search traffic to help them discover it when you're first starting out. That's why distribution is so important: it gets your content in front of the people who most stand to benefit from it.
To distribute your blog content effectively, you need to know:
- How to give your target audience first exposure to your blog
- How to bring your target audience back to your blog
- How to keep your blog's traffic growing sustainably
Starting a successful company blog is like starting a fire: you need to get a spark and kindle it before you can grow it into a sustainable blaze. This article shows you how to start that fire.
Find your fire-starter communities
Taking the first step to turn a spark into a small fire can be the hardest part. That's why stores sell fire starters: kits specifically designed to get a fire going.
High-traffic online communities are your blog's fire starters: they won't provide sustainable traffic to your blog in the long run, but in the beginning, they can get a lot of people looking at your blog for the first time. Here are some communities you can get involved in to find and reach the people who will be most excited about your content.
Reddit. Find an appropriate subreddit (or three) to share your posts on. As outlined in its guidelines, Reddit cares a lot about fostering genuine communities rather than ads, so try to follow the rule of making nine comments in a subreddit for each piece of self-promotion you post. The added benefit to this is that, by actively participating in relevant subreddits, you're making yourself known in the exact communities who will ultimately rally around your blog.
Hacker News. Share your content on Hacker News, and be sure to follow their guidelines. The added bonus of tapping into Hacker News is that you can solicit feedback on your newest product through Hacker Show, which lets you draw the same community both to your blog and actual product.
Designer News. Try Designer News to reach a more specific community: it's made to cater exclusively to designers. Similarly to Reddit, their guidelines emphasize that you should avoid excessive self-promotion—especially SEO-driven content. Make sure your posts will really be valuable to designers—that's what will make them most excited about your blog and product in the long-run.
Product Manager HQ. This is the home of the largest Slack channel for learning about product management, with over 4,500 members representing over 600 companies on over 60 channels. If your blog has any product management content, this is a great way to distribute it to a focused community that will get the most value out of it.
When you share your content to these websites, you aren't just giving people first exposure to your blog: you're also starting to engage with like-minded communities, and starting to cultivate a community of your own around your blog and its content. That's how you'll start your fire.
Kindle your readership by bringing them back
Once you've started your fire, you need kindling to keep it growing into a sustainable blaze. You need to kindle your blog by repeatably keeping people coming back to your content.
Here are some strategies for ensuring that readers reliably return to your blog to read more of its content.
Republish on Medium. Once you've gotten your blog going, start a Medium publication and repost some of your most successful content on it. As HubSpot notes, Medium is a place that people go exclusively to find quality content to read: if you're writing great blog posts, this is an ideal place to find new people to appreciate it.
Share on social media. Share your posts on your company's social media, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Facebook in particular has a powerful advertising platform to help put your posts in the feeds of people most likely to read it, like it, and share it—and they have a ton of curated resources to train you on the best practices for advertising effectively.
Build an email list. Provide a place for people to sign up at the top and bottom of each article. This will provide you with a distribution channel that lets you send new articles directly to people who have already read and expressed interest in your content.
Share your best content with your email list. Build an email drip campaign to share your historically most successful articles with people who sign up for your email list. You can use a tool like Campaign Monitor to design an automated series of emails that shares a new, popular article with new subscribers every few days, encouraging them to revisit your blog and get excited about its content.
If you keep visitors reliably revisiting and engaging your content, they'll become your greatest champions, sharing your content throughout their networks. Before long, your once-modest blog will be gathering momentum.
Keep the fire blazing
Once you've kindled a healthy readership, you can focus on improving your content's search rankings in order to continually feed more people into your robust ecosystem of content.
Here are strategies to optimize your blog's search rankings to bring in increasingly large volumes of people as its presence becomes established.
Target topics, not keywords. You'll find some success by picking particular keywords to optimize for, but you'll generate much more traffic and rank better if you choose a single topic around which to focus all of your content. Everything from your site, to your blog, to your guest posts should be focused on tackling the keywords that are most pertinent to that topic. Link all of this content together, and you'll create a well-ranked domain that people recognize as an authority on your chosen topic.
Use a hub and spoke model. When you're tackling a topic, start by creating a page to serve as a living table of contents for that topic—this is your hub, a low-bounce reference page that people use to find everything they need to know about your topic of choice. Then, exhaustively fill your hub with spokes—articles by both yourself and others that constitute all the best resources on the internet about your topic. Continually update your hub as you write more spokes for it.
Include external links that your audience will care about. Like Anum Hussain discusses, external links are very powerful for increasing your content's search rankings. Try to find all of the other best content on the internet about your topic, and connect it with your own to make your blog part of the broader, easily discoverable ecosystem of information about that topic.
Backlink intelligently. Google isn't fooled by cheap tactics like buying backlinks, but you can boost your SEO rankings if you find quality, genuine ways to have content on other sites link back to your own. Continue to share your work with the communities you used as fire starters to generate more backlinks and keep those communities engaged. You can also write guest posts for other websites, producing more content in which you can link back to your own blog.
It's important to remember that these sorts of strategies are ways to continue fueling your fire after you've successfully started it. When you're just starting to grow your blog, you shouldn't be focusing on things like SEO—you should be doing everything you can to cultivate a dedicated community around your content, using the strategies we discussed above. Once you've done that, your fire will be robust enough to be further fed with strategies like SEO.
It might seem daunting to turn a handful of articles into a blog viewed millions of times every year, but bonfires begin with a single spark. If you commit yourself to quality content from the beginning, you have everything you need to start the fire.