When I ask our prospects what their biggest concerns are when thinking about launching a content website or blog, the fear of online marketing is always high on the list.
There are no secrets in the online marketing world.
Every topic is covered in the tiniest detail on thousands of marketing websites.
The biggest problem is sifting through all the information to work out what is useful and valuable, and what is irrelevant, out of date and wrong.
Writers Are Online Marketers
When writers and experts express their concern about online marketing, my response is you don’t have to understand anything about marketing to be fantastic at promoting your site and building a loyal audience.
If you enjoy writing and have a passion for your subject, that is better than any marketing gimmick or latest fad.
But just writing articles on your own website or blog will limit the potential of what you can achieve using your expertise, so here is a step-by-step guide to marketing through doing what you do best … writing about your passion.
STEP 1 – Read and List
The first crucial (and enjoyable) step is to spend time reading and listing all the blogs, forums and newsletters that are relevant to your subject. You can find these by searching in Google for your subject followed by ‘blog’, ‘forum’, ‘discussion group’, ‘newsletter’, etc
STEP 2 – Prioritise the List
Depending on your subject you could end up with over 100 sites. There is no way that you can regularly read this many websites and newsletters so prioritise the ones you think are most relevant and wield the greatest influence.
Try to spot the upcoming sites. It is often much easier to contact and correspond with new site owners than with the top tier bloggers who get hundreds of emails a day.
STEP 3 – Set up a Reader to Monitor These Websites
Google Reader is now a mere memory but similar services are available and allow you to collect all the updates from multiple sites in one place. This enables you to scan all the new posts from dozens of websites and only go to the actual site when you find something of real interest.
STEP 4 – Comment and Communicate
Once you have are familiar with your key sites, it is time to join the community.
Start contributing to blogs and forums when you see subjects that you have an opinion on.
It’s very important that your contributions are well thought out and useful to the readers. Don’t just leave comments like “Good point, John” or “Nice post, Peter”. They have no value to you or the other readers.
Important Point Coming Up!
If you just leave a comment without any details about yourself it has NO marketing value to you whatsoever, so it’s a waste of your time.
To get free marketing from every post you must make sure you include a link back to your website. When you leave a comment most blogs and forums have three boxes for personal information that identify the commenter:
* Your Name – I always use by real name, but you can use a generic name like “MarketingMan” . Whatever you choose use the same name on all the sites you comment on so you start to build your reputation as an authority on your subject
* Email Address - it will not be visible to readers but lets the author know that you're a real person, not a bot or spammer
* Domain Name - This is the critical bit! By inserting your domain name you will create a link from your post back to your website. This will enable people who read your post and like what you say to visit your site. It will also give you a vital inbound link which will help improve your Google PageRank. This is marketing for non-marketersJ
Note: Don’t abuse this linking ability to overtly promote your website, product or service. This is bad comment etiquette and will do nothing to build your online reputation.
STEP 5 – Develop Your Own Style, Tone and Personality
Its not only what you know, that’s important, how you communicate it also matters.
You should develop a consistent and interesting style that is engaging, enjoyable and easy to read. Some things to think about as you create your style:
* Always aim to grab attention with the first line
* Acknowledge and praise the contribution of others (without being creepy!)
* Don’t be argumentive, but defend your opinions in a positive way
* Keep the conversation going by asking questions
* Provide sources and references to your arguments. Few contributors to this, so those that do get noticed
* Add a touch of humor where possible
STEP 6 - Respond
When visitors comment on your posts, respond.
This is less important when your post is on someone else’s site because the conversation will go on without you. However if people come to your site and post a comment then a response will keep them engaged in the conversation. Always remember people remain loyal to communities where they feel involved.
STEP 7 – Build Relationships with Key People
Once you start to comment regularly and prove your authority in your subject, you will start to attract attention as an expert. This is when your hard work will start to pay off.
To maximise your effort you need to build relationships with the key bloggers in your subject. They will then start referencing you and your site in their posts and even asking you to contribute posts to their site.
This is the point when your status as an expert is formerly recognised in the community.
You’re now a player and you will see your website or blog rapidly grow in popularity.
And all of this has been achieved by doing what you do best, talking about your subject
STEP 8 – Don’t Stop
A reputation is like a plant. If it is not regularly fed, watered and looked after it will fade and die.
Once you establish your online reputation and authority you must continue to build and expand it, by ongoing participation in your online communities.
Writers with passion are natural online marketers.
By following these simple steps above they can quickly build traffic to their website and authority in their niche, without ever needing to know what the letters SEO mean!