Monday Mornings with Madison

GETTING THE WORD OUT ABOUT YOUR BLOG

PART 2: LOW-COST STRATEGIES

There is a myth that bloggers and webmasters should not spend money on advertising.  That myth originated from success stories of people who managed to create popular websites without spending any money on marketing.  The fact is that most of those successful sites were pioneers in their niche.  They became popular back when there was little competition.  Today, the market is crowded and there are thousands (millions?) of websites and blogs competing for audiences even in small market segments. Thus, paid promotional techniques are becoming an important factor in any successful Blog marketing strategy.  Here are a few for you to consider.

Paid promotional tips
With a bit of money, you can generate raw traffic, improve your search engine rankings, and gain visibility in your niche area.  Most of those techniques will pay off in the short to medium term.

1. AdWords
Google make billions of dollars every year from the AdWords-AdSense combo. Why? Because it works. AdWords may be the most efficient method to generate raw traffic to your site.  Getting started is easy.  Create an AdWords account.  Identify lots (hundreds if not thousands) of keywords related to your content and set the maximum pay-per-click rate at $0.01. After that, raise the rate by $0.01 every week until you start getting the desired amount of daily clicks. At lower bids, you’ll notice some keywords may be reported as “Inactive for Search”. Don’t be concerned.  That just means your ads will not appear on the search network, but they will appear on the content network (websites of people that use AdSense).

2. Site-specific AdWords
Pay attention to the AdSense units.  There you will see that most have a link titled “advertise on this site”. This feature enables AdWords advertisers to create customized ads that will be displayed only on specific websites. Those ads work on a CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) rather than a CPC (cost per click) basis, but can generate a good amount of very targeted traffic since you control where the ad will be displayed and the message shown.

3. StumbleUpon ads
StumbleUpon is a very innovative social bookmarking site that allows users to discover great websites by using a browser toolbar. When the user clicks on “Stumble,” he is delivered to a website rated positively by people with similar interests. The user can also give positive and negative ratings to any website visited.  StumbleUpon also offers advertising campaigns, called StumbleUpon Ads, where you can market directly to “Stumblers”. It costs $0.05 per page delivered, but since the sites that appear on StumbleUpon usually have a high quality, it is likely that part of that paid traffic converts to regular readers.

4. Direct banner ads
Many established business websites directly sell banner ads or sponsorship plans. Those advertising deals usually are structured with weekly or monthly fees, regardless of the number of impressions or clicks generated. Despite this, a banner placement can represent a good value for they money because apart from the direct traffic, you also create visibility and brand awareness. Readers of the website where you display your banner will associate the message on the banner with your site or blog.  Should they cross your banner or message two or three times, their curiosity may be peaked and they may click to read more.  Another advantage of banner placements is that people may assume the author or owner of the site endorses your content.  Even an implicit third-party endorsement is valuable.

5. Sponsored reviews
Buying sponsored reviews is another good way to kick-start a Blog. It brings backlinks, traffic and RSS subscribers. There are many market studies confirming that “word of mouth” is the most efficient way to capture people’s attention.  That is what you get with sponsored reviews. You can either pay a low price (sometimes as low as $5 per review) to get a large number of reviews from small sites or you can focus on large players (which can charge several hundreds of dollars for a single review) that are authorities in your niche. There are sites that sell sponsored reviews such as SponsoredReviews.com and ReviewMe.com. 

6. Blog networks
There are several blog networks founded around a traffic exchange principle. Basically, you create an account for your Blog and earn credits by surfing other members’ Blogs. Then, you can use the credits to make people visit your Blog or display your banners around the network. The interesting part is that most of those Blog networks allow users to purchase credits with money, and the price is inexpensive. You can receive hundreds of visitors or to get thousands of banner impressions for less than $20.  Some Blog Networks to check out are Blog Explosion and Blog Advance.  Do some research to find others.

Try these low-cost strategies out and see if you increase your Blog readership significantly.   Good luck.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“You must spend money to make money” Titus Maccius Plautus

© 2010 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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