Nobody likes a braggart. Or an ass-kisser. We all know that.
We also know there is truth in the saying, if you don’t toot your own horn, nobody else will. It’s kind of like the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But again, a healthy helping of hubris often leaves a bad taste in others’ mouths.
So when it comes to blogging and building a readership, how much is too much? What is “good” promotion? What smacks of self-importance? That’s what we’re pondering in this week’s Friend Friday* topic.
How do you promote your blog?
OK, first, let me say this. I’m a horn-tooter—but I’m a gracious horn-tooter—I try to toot other people’s horns as much as I toot my own. As a writer, having clips and a portfolio and pushing my work is just ingrained. And there is a certain amount of hubris inherent in writers (I’ve got a SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION tab up there!); we really do like to see our names in a byline, we really do document our growth and our careers through our clips—and I don’t see a damn thing wrong with that. It’s good to own your achievements, as long as you also own your shortcomings.
I take the same approach with my blog…I am building a body of work, a portfolio that I am proud of, whether I ever make a dime off it or not. To promote G&G, I:
- Regularly participate in and contribute to Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB).
- Make it easy—and obvious—for readers to follow my blog via the method of their choice: RSS, Feedburner, Bloglovin’, Twitter, etc. I also make sure other sources (like Wikifashion and IFB) have links or buttons for the different ways one can follow G&G.
- Publicize new posts, respond to or retweet interesting tweets from other bloggers, use hashtags when applicable, and give Follow Friday (#FF) shoutouts on Twitter to keep my connection with other bloggers.
- Comment on blogs I like and interact with other bloggers.
- Join related networks/communities like Blog Catalog, BonBon Rose Girls, Expat Exchange, Expat Blog, and more.
- Participate in collective blogging efforts like Friend Friday and the associated Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group.
- Participate in interviews with other bloggers who ask to feature me on their sites.
- Run an ad on other blogs through the Indie Style Media free ad exchange.
- Hand out business cards to people in the fashion industry with whom I’ve become acquainted.
- Contribute to other fashion-related sites. In the recent past, I was a regular contributor to In Their Closet and Ask Miss A.
In your experience what has been the most effective form of self-promotion?
According to my Google Analytics report, most people find my blog through a direct link, which leads me to believe that links left on my comments on other blogs are the most effective form of promotion—in short, thoughtful, relevant comments elsewhere are huge traffic boosters. Google searches are next on the list, but I suspect that’s because people have seen my blog name elsewhere and have Googled me.
Twitter is the next largest source of my traffic, followed by IFB. That said, I feel like one of the best ways to promote G&G has been participating in and contributing to IFB. Writing for IFB gives people a taste of my voice and what I’m bringing to the table, if you will. Participating in polls and discussions there enables others to get to know me, and regularly updating my status and keeping my profile and contact info fresh has been invaluable.
Another thing that is extremely valuable in terms of self-promotion, and I read this somewhere just the other day, is to be helpful to others. Tips, tricks, time-savers, and knowledge-sharing keeps people interested and coming back. My Build a Better Blog page, for example, is a reference resource I created to help other fashion bloggers improve their blogs, because Web content development happens to be what I do professionally. I also use it to promote other bloggers who have published useful information on this topic. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Do you think there is a wrong way to promote yourself and your blog?
- Disingenuous commenting. I cannot stand bloggers who come by and leave a generic comment and ask me to follow them or check out their blogs. I’m sure this is universally detested by seasoned bloggers, but apparently people still aren’t aware. So that’s a no. Not only does this approach ask something for nothing, but bloggers who do this assume that I’ve got nothing better to do with my time then click right over to their blogs for a look. It’s insulting, really. Where’s the value-add? What’s the draw? Bloggers need to remember that there are MILLIONS of blogs vying for human attention. You really need to be engaging and at least show me you’re interested in me before you ask me to take an interest in you. That’s what I do.
- Promote a product or campaign you don’t believe in. I’d never participate in a generic, mass-advertising campaign for a company that I don’t personally like, or does not compensate me in some way. So what if a massive company is willing to add you to their list…if you’re one of hundreds, you’re a needle in a haystack. Jumping on every bandwagon coming your way diminishes credibility and is a waste of time. Unless it is a charity effort, there is adequate compensation, and the product and messaging align with me and G&G, it’ll never happen.
- Offer giveaways too frequently. I’m getting extraordinarily tired of seeing giveaways every week on some blogs. It may drive traffic to a blog, but it is temporary. I read blogs because they are interesting visually and/or verbally, not for free stuff—if I wanted to see products, I’d go to an online shopping site, not a blog. Plus, most giveaways are crap because that’s all companies are willing to part with for free. I almost never participate because I almost never click out of my reader to the post.
When it comes to others pushing their product, what annoys you?
Everything I mentioned in the question above. I’m so over the giveaway phenomenon. Truly. And if the first time you ever contact me, all you write is that you want me to follow you or exchange links, you can pretty much bet I will not. Thinly veiled compliments and typical in-your-face sponsor-pushing is insipid. At least ask me a riddle, or tease me with a headline or something, for crying out loud! Be creative!
This is why knowing your objective is crucial: do you want to blog, or do you want to turn your blog into a storefront, a full-blown money-making machine? It’s OK to be a blogger with a separate online store and occasionally cross-reference the two; that’s smart (and modern) business. Jeweler and blogger Wendy Brandes does this exceedingly well—she weaves stories about people who have commissioned a custom piece around the mechanics of the piece, as well as her creative process and business practices. Her recent post, Custom Wedding Band for Iron Man Thom, is an excellent example of the clever way she uses her blog to soft-sell her services and toot her horn about the lengths to which she’ll go to ensure stellar customer service and a flawless finished product.
In Dressful’s post on this topic she wrote, “It’s impossible to respect someone who wants all the attention, but adds nothing worthwhile to the conversation.” Do you agree?
I agree 150%! That’s essentially what I meant by disingenuous commenting. Blogging is a conversation, and a conversation is a verbal exchange between at least two parties. If I’m the only one talking, or you’re the only one talking, it’s not a conversation—it’s a soliloquy. And that, my lovelies, only works in theatre.
*The Friend Friday project by Modly Chic is a way for fashion bloggers to share more about themselves and create a friendly connection with other bloggers. Join the conversation by joining the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group.