Top bloggers reveal how to build traffic off-blog without spending a dime

I posed this very question to a collection of some of the world’s top bloggers and social network marketers…and here’s what they revealed:

* Darren Rowse | ProBlogger.net – Guest Posting – I’d identify a handful of other blogs in my niche (or surrounding niches) to offer to write some guest posts for. Networking – I’d spend a lot of time interacting with other bloggers and their readers – commenting on their blogs, emailing them and exploring ways of working together in win-win ways. (When I read Darren’s original e-mail to me, I misread it and thought he said to write guest posts in exchange for advertising, not payment. Turns out, that’s not what he said, but I’ve used that very strategy to break into print magazines and wonder if it would work for blogs, too)

* Maki | doshdosh.com – Building relationships with influential people is my favorite off-blog marketing method because it gives the greatest amount of returns for all your efforts. Promote the content of other people, send emails, chat on IM, do favors, connect people together, help them achieve their goals. This is a great way to brand yourself or your site and makes it so much easier to get support or publicity in turn when you need it.

* Cyan Ta’eed | FreelanceSwitch.com – I would pick 5 top-100 blogs that I felt worked well with my target market, then I would read each of their articles and spend time coming up with interesting and constructive comments for any I felt I was qualified to write about. I would also scour the web for any gems I felt would relate to them, and send them over immediately. In that way I would position myself as a valuable resource and hopefully befriend them too (if we naturally clicked). When the time came for me to send them a special article I had written, I would have a far better chance of getting it profiled with them, and I would have valuable contacts for any future collaborations….OR…I would spend one hour a day reading every Digg top story that day, then spend the other hour finding and submitting great articles to Digg. In that way I would hopefully get a good eye for classic Digg stories, and move up the ranks as a popular Digger (for those that don’t know, Digg has unofficial “Star Diggers” who develop a following. If they post one of your stories, you can be guaranteed up to hundreds of Diggs from the get-go, and a very real shot of being on the Digg popular list that day). I’d also contact every blogger I know, and ask them to give me a heads-up when they had a special article coming out. That way I could Digg those articles before anyone else – which as I rose in popularity would benefit the traffic of the blogs in question also. Once I was a popular Digger (which is pretty hard from what I’ve heard – but probably possible in two hours a day for an extended period of time), I would be able to on occasion submit my own flagship articles, easily get them Dugg, and get thousands upon thousands of readers coming to my site on a regular basis.

* Penelope Trunk | Brazen Careerist – Here are two offline things that are great for promoting my blog: Being interesting at a party – if people like talking to you they’ll check out your blog. Doing public speaking. Sort of a like a party, right? But it’s a party where everyone is listening to you

* Leo Babuata | ZenHabits.net – Write guest posts. To me, there’s no better form of advertising, free or otherwise. If you can get a good blog with a medium to fairly large audience to run a guest post of yours, take that opportunity! It’s worth the time investment. Why? Not only is it free, but you’re exposing yourself to a new audience. And if you write your best stuff, there’s no better advertisement — how else can a reader know the kind of quality writing you’ll put out on your own blog except by reading it on another blog? Always do your best stuff when writing a guest post for another blog, and you’ll get lots of new readers.

* Anita Campbell | SmallBizTrends.com – I’d engage in social media marketing campaigns using a variety of content sharing sites, social networking and community based sites. So many sites, so little time…. With two hours a day, you could rock the house and make a huge difference.

* Liz Strauss | Successful-Blog.com – Two hours a day. I’d hang on StumbleUpon. I’d comment on blogs I’d read. I’d talk on the telephone with bloggers about what they were reading. I’d have a professional expert profile where the media looks for experts to interview. I’d speak at the local rotary and at every conference I could find. I’d know the editors and the editorial calendars of the op-ed and lifestyle press and be sure they knew when I was publishing something that correlated with their usual interests. I might even go as far a buying a weekly hour of live radio time and hosting a show in the suburbs of Chicago on the same topic as my blog.

* Muhammad Saleem | MuhammadSaleem.com – I would go socialize with other bloggers. This can entail guest writing on their blogs, commenting elsewhere and so on.

* Henrik Edberg | PositivityBlog.com – I´d probably use those two hours over time to build power user profiles for the biggest social media sites like Digg, Reddit and Stumbleupon. This would not only give me more connections, friends and opportunities out in the world. It would also enable me to increase my own readership pretty quickly by using those sites as a power user.

* Cory Miller | CoryMiller.com – Study the great blogs and learn what makes them great. Then force myself to read great blogs outside of my niche, passion and even interest for the same reason. Start email conversations with other bloggers. Develop relationships with journalists in my niche. I’ve been quoted and featured in four stories published in our state newspaper simply because I was blogging in my niche. And then, simply, get some rest. Blogging takes a ton of energy. I think more bloggers could use more rest times of simply sitting on the couch.

* Donald Latumahina | LifeOptimizer.org – For me, I will get involved in social media sites. This way I will know what the social media audience likes while also building my network there.

* Chris Garrett | Chrisg.com – For me it is guest-posting. It’s great marketing for your blog plus you can get paid for it!

* Cameron Olthius | CameronOlthuis.com – I’d participate by leaving thoughtful comments that contribute to the conversation on other relevant blogs.

* Alister Cameron | AlisterCameron.com –
o Create the next killer WordPress plugin or theme
o Build relationships with top stumblers (and diggers)
o Write guest posts for [big blogs in your niche]
o Plan/research for next link-baity post
o Comment like crazy on other key blogs and some lesser-known ones
o Design a theme for csszengarden.com (Gets you a PR9 link)

Amazing insights…

While there was a bit of crossover between our various experts, I was amazed at how many different ideas were offered. And, a number of people brought off-line initiatives into the mix, too.

As someone who’s entrepreneurial efforts have been largely off-line until recently, I learned the power of networking and mainstream media publicity very early on. So, I would add these off-line strategies to the mix as well:

* Attend blogging/tech conferences where you know a ton of other bloggers will congregate, stay at the hotel where the conference is even it’s a bit more expensive and spend every extra minute connecting with everyone. Don’t just focus on the superstars, welcome any conversation..and, most importantly, like Maki said, when you meet people get into the “what can I do for you” mindset, not the other way around.

* Attend non-blog/tech conferences, events and trade-shows that focus on the content area of your blog. Get out and talk to people who actually earn their living in the big, scary face-to-face world….you might even have fun!

* Write “print” guest columns in old-fashioned newsletters, magazine and newspapers or even the online analogue of print outlets that either share the targeted readership with an interest in what you blog about or have massive reach. In fact, a friend of mine, Marci Alboher, began freelancing for The New York Times a few years ago and that eventually led to a gig as a regular columnist and career blogger with them. The nice thing here is you get exposure and you actually get paid, either in cash or I’ve even negotiated ad-space in lieu of greenbacks, which can be a real win-win with the right publication.

* Hit the radio-waves – Terrestrial or satellite, shows of all sizes are constantly on the hunt for entertaining guests, provocative topics and informative spots. I’ve done a bunch of radio and actually, through connections developed over time in print media, ended up doing a regular radio spot on Sirius (click podcast link on right column to listen) that turned into a recurring 1-hour segment. And now that I blog, guess what gets promoted at the end of every segment?

I’ll detail a bunch of ways to get you and your blog on the radio, featured in magazines and newspapers and writing for them, too, in a future post, so stay tuned.

What was interesting to me, too, was the absence of some oft-touted strategies like blog carnivals, and article-directories. Food for thought.

…so, how do you choose what to do?

Fact is, each strategy has its own unique benefits and they are all highly-effective at growing traffic. But, clearly, to implement them all would take far more than two hours a day. So, you need to make some choices.

For me, it comes down to bang for your buck. These days, time is our most precious asset, even more treasured than money. And, time well spent can take the place of money well spent in launching and growing a blog.

So, rather than trying to do it all on a low level, hone your efforts, choose the strategies that resonate most with you, the ones you feel most comfortable pursuing, and invest your energy in those.

Do this for 30-days and then if you have the inclination and the time, begin to add more, one at a time. This will allow you to adapt to the workload and also be able to more effectively measure the additive affect of each strategy.

And, remember, too, this nugget:

* Jay White | DumbLittleMan.com – This is going to sound VERY generic but there is no better marketing than writing great articles. I would simply use that time to write.

No amount of off-blog effort can make up for poor content or design. So, step one is to make your blog rock. Once that’s taken care of, step two is to set the off-blog marketing wheels in motion.

info…

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13 Comments

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