How to Market Your Blog Like a Startup

by Marissa on January 14, 2013 · 43 comments

When it comes to online business, the first mistake that most people make is looking at their site as “just a blog.” With this mentality, you’ll be lucky if you end up building a subscriber base, much less a money generating website. Instead, the key is to market your blog like a startup while avoiding spammy linking and marketing practices at all costs. Sometimes, all it takes is a small change to your frame of mind to make the money flow.

Now you may wonder why I’m bringing this up. Well, a lot of people want to start blogs to make money. At least, that’s what I’m hearing on twitter and in person.

The Importance of Treating Your Blog Like a Business

One of the biggest advantages that you’ll notice after treating your blog like a startup business is that you’ll be more likely to remain consistent in your marketing efforts – and when it comes to generating money with a blog, consistency is the key. After all, an effective marketing campaign that is consistent is what makes or breaks a business in the offline world. Why would it be any different online?

1. Choose a market (Niche)

How to choose a market:

  1. Market Size – Who are you targeting? Males, females, families, entrepreneurs, students?
  2. Market Wealth – Does your market have the time to be online? Are they computer savvy?
  3. Market Competition – How many other sites are there with the same content?
  4. Value Proposition – What do you offer thats different? How can you make your site stand out?

Narrow your niche further by defining your keywords. This can be done by spending a bit of time on Google’s Keyword Tool. You’re looking for keywords in your niche that are not as saturated. Ie, Low competition, but high volume.

 

2. Set Targets

  1. Play with the Goals Settings in Google Analytics.
  2. Set Hard Targets for Reader Conversions- RSS readers, twitter follows, Pageviews, visits.
  3. Monitor Trends/ Industry Growth- Ie. If you’re posting about holiday gift ideas in November, December and you’re getting a lot of search traffic, don’t expect the trend to continue in January.
  4. Closely analysis each campaign/post/guest post- Having a thorough understanding of what converts with your readers help you plan how to spend your time better in the future.

3. Set a Budget.

 

We’d like to believe that everything happens in a vacumn and we can do it by ourselves, but thats not possible. Have a budget for the following things.

 

  1. Plugins- Split test and see which ones work and which don’t. Don’t be afraid to spend money on something that makes your life easier.
  2. Staff Writers- Generating content on a daily basis is extremely difficult. Find a team of staff writers that are qualified in different topics within you niche.
  3. The Overall Look of Your Site- As your traffic grows, you will be looking at redesigning your site. Look for designers that have experience, and can work with you to get the look and feel that you want. As always, you get what you pay for.
  4. Promotional Campaigns- Is there anything that is both relevant to your readers that you can afford to give away? This could be an ebook, or a giveaway. Never underestimate the value of leads that are generated from the freemium model.

Evergreen Methods of Marketing Your Blog:

  1. Maintain a regular posting schedule.

There is no set amount of posts that you have to publish each week. However, you should try your best to consistently put fresh content on your blog so that your readers have a reason to keep coming back. This is what builds a strong subscriber base and a community around a website, which in turn equals trust and money.

  1. Guest blog on related high traffic blogs.

When done for traffic and networking, as opposed to backlinking, guest blogging is a powerful way to drive traffic to a new website. Choosing other websites to guest post on should be chosen based on what you can contribute that will benefit their readers, not on the page rank of the site itself.

  1. Post in related forums.

Forum posting is another method that works wonderfully for driving targeted visitors to a new website. However, the success you see from forum marketing directly correlates with the value that you provide as a member. If you spend your time posting insightful comments that help other users, then you can expect to see a return on your time in terms of website visitors. It’s important to avoid blatant advertising on forums, unless you are paying for advertising privileges; instead, use your forum signature to your advantage. Don’t forget to read the rules before you start posting!

  1. Utilize video marketing.

Although many bloggers make video marketing harder than it has to be, you don’t have to be one of them! Ideas for videos include reviewing a product that you regularly use, turning your blog posts into video slide shows, or even hosting a question and answer session every week and then uploading it to the top video sites.

  1. Learn social media marketing.

Of the social networks, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are the most important at this time. Of course, just having an account on social media platforms isn’t enough; you should aim to engage with other users on at least one social network regularly. On the other hand, it’s also important to remember that you shouldn’t try to spread yourself too thin. Your followers will appreciate you more if you actively network on one or two social networks, as opposed to giving a half-hearted attempt on twenty. That being said, it is a good idea to reserve your chosen username on all the available social networks, especially if you are trying to establish a brand, because this prevents others from using your brand name.

  1. Use web 2.0 platforms.

As part of an overall content marketing strategy, Web 2.0 sites are still very powerful. The caveat is that you have to be willing to participate in the community, as well – not just drop your website link and run. Similar to forum posting and blog commenting, web 2.0 platforms work best for driving traffic when you submit quality content that engages or solves the reader’s problem.

 

Final Thoughts on Marketing Your Blog Like a Startup

In the end, always remember that the way you market your blog is a direct reflection of your brand. In other words, if you use spammy tactics to promote your site, then that’s what your site will amount to; there is no sustainable business in spam. On the other hand, by engaging in social media, drawing in a captive audience, and networking with fellow bloggers, you’ll be able to build marketing campaign for your blog that will continue to snowball.

  • http://www.onesmartdollar.com Sean @ One Smart Dollar

    Awesome article Marissa. Back in 2006 I started blogging as just a hobby. As traffic started to grow on one of my blogs I started turning more into the business mindset. It has really helped me succeed when it comes to growth and closing advertising deals.

    • Marissa

      You’ve been doing this since 06? That is amazing!

  • http://www.debtroundup.com Grayson @ Debt Roundup

    Great post Marissa. Any blog I create is treated like a business. I think that is the only way to be successful with any website. Most people fail when they create their blogs like a business because they choose a niche that they don’t know enough about or that doesn’t interest them. They choose these based on the amount of money they “could” make.

    • Marissa

      Exactly. Can you imagine writing about personal finance if you had no interest in it?

  • http://www.frugalrules.com John S @ Frugal Rules

    Great post Marissa! I could not agree more. We all know that blogging can take A LOT of time. Why not view is as a business? I love your idea of setting a budget. We often think of that as only applying to money, but it can be applied to many other things as well. I view it as a way of forming my plan of attack around and making my marketing and writing targeted in order to get the best possible results.

    • Marissa

      And lets not forget that getting the proper tools to run your business costs money.

  • http://nzmuse.com eemusings

    Nice one. Guest posting is an interesting one – obviously there’s no hard and fast rules but what do you think would be a good benchmark/measure of success for traffic from a guest post?

    • Marissa

      It really depends on the niche. Some people post for the links, and other for the traffic. Mine has always been doubling my traffic for the day.

  • Mike @Personal Finance Beat

    Glad I found this site — great post! When starting out, getting your name out there is just as important as publishing new content. As someone who has started a new blog, I have found actually that this has been the greatest challenge. I agree that guest-posting and community-posting are smart ideas.

    The niche I’ve joined certainly has a lot of competition, but I feel like the style/format of the site will — hopefully — allow me to stick out a little.

  • http://www.iheartbudgets.net Jacob @ iheartbudgets

    Nice! I’m rockin’ a bunch of these, though still a young blog. Hoping to get into video this summer :)

    I like running it like a business, but enjoying it like a hobby.

    • Marissa

      Thats the best of dealing with it.

  • http://moneylicious.org Ornella @ Moneylicious.org

    I like your point on setting a budget. A blog is a business with time and resource needing to accompany it. I think if you can build a relationship with other blogs within your niche you can create your own community to hold contest or giveaways.

    • Marissa

      Exactly!

  • http://www.studentdebtsurvivor.com KK@Student Debt Survivor

    Right now I’m trying to run my blog like a part-time business (time wise-since I’m not actually monetizing, but instead focusing on writing and building readers). I haven’t gotten into facebook because I didn’t want to spread myself too thin in the beginning. I might branch out and give in a try, but for now I’m happy just writing and getting to know other bloggers.

    • Marissa

      I would start a FB as soon as possible.

  • Lishu Ahuja

    I’m the same way I do my best to remain neutral. It’s hard if you communicate with the person the other person dislikes then you fall out of favor with them! I simple can’t dislike a person just because someone else does I just can’t.
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  • http://abusybeelife.wordpress.com/ Melissa

    Great post. I just recently start my blog and I am not really focused on marketing my blog because I still do not know what I want to use it as. However, when I do decided, I would definitely use this post as a reference.

    • Marissa

      Can I make a suggestion? I would start with getting off wordpress.com and on a hosting plan. You’ll thank yourself later.

  • David

    Blogs and Websites are the internet files which contains the latest information about the technology,science,business and many more related fields.Blog readers are those people who read the content and increase the traffic.Every Person has their own blog.Every Person want to do business online and enahnce their business online by the help of blogs.

  • http://www.YoungAdultMoney.com DC @ Young Adult Money

    Really solid explanation. I treat my site as if it was a startup/small business. It IS a business at it’s core, so I might as well treat it like one. I have targeted my niche but can probably do a better job of focusing my articles.

  • http://www.lbeeandthemoneytree.com L Bee and the Money Tree

    great advice here. I’m about to have to start branching out and get some staff writers even though the idea kills me, it is just too hard to post 3x a week with everything else going on. Thanks for the tips :)

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  • http://moneymastermom.com Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom

    I kept seeing this post on twitter and in carnivals so I knew it must be good. You didn’t disappoint!

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  • http://www.brickbybrickinvesting.com Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin

    Very great points and ideas. Thank you, I have been researching how to take my blog to the next level and this certainly helps!

  • http://www.mymoneydesign.com My Money Design

    I’m 1.5 years into blogging and I still don’t take advantage of all these tips. This is a great list Marissa – a lot of good information neatly summarized. I’ve been paying attention to keywords and back-linking more than ever, and I’ll be using a few of these ideas.

  • http://youronline.biz Jacko

    Very interesting concept Marissa,

    Budgeting is very important but people fail to also budget their time. Remember the less money you have the MORE valuable your TIME is.

    Waste it at your own peril.

  • http://www.uniquegifter.com Anne @ Unique Gifter

    What do you mean I should expect my traffic to drop off in January??!!! ;-) Haha, of course it did. Another part of the blogging is strategy and knowing your market. For example, strategy means means writing about things that will become popular in a little bit, so that they are showing up okay in google by the time the subject really gets going. Ie – my engagement gift series prior to December, which something like half of engagements happen. Through January, they got a fair bit of organic traffic, as expected. Another example is the onslaught of debt reduction and budgeting posts in January, when most people have set their “get out of debt” New Year’s Resolutions.

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  • Eduardo

    I like this post. I need to utilize more SEO tactics! That’s my weekend goal! Cheers!

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  • http://theliverspot.com Yannai Segal

    Thanks so much, this was an excellent article for someone looking to grow their blog. I was wondering if you could shed some light into how you would use Google Plus to your advantage? And would you spend money on social media platforms vs SEM? Thanks so much in advance.

  • http://lab.plorez.com/ Chirag Dodiya

    That was quite impressive information you have provided right here and its extremely determined up to the point. I am a blogger myself and have recently started a blog on Startup business and tech and this information is going to be very helpful in cranking a marketing plan for growing the blog.

    Thanks again…

    • Marissa

      You’re very welcome!

  • http://smartmoneyjunction.com HS @ SmartMoneyJunction

    Marketing my blog is one of my favorite activities about blogging, since it involves interacting with fellow bloggers in your niche. When it comes to branding a blog, guest posting and social media engagement are probably the best.

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  • Amanda

    Outstanding post. It gives bloggers an opportunity to become famous instantly. But they will need your tips to stay famous and popular.

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