How to Promote Your Blog Offline
Today I’m tackling questions from listener, Julianna Barnaby about whether it’s important to spend time offline building your blog’s personal brand and reputation.
The answer is simple. “Yes.” Offline promotion is worth it. Get creative, and get out and meet people.
You may need to step out of your comfort zone, but that can be rewarding. You never know when someone you meet will become a reader, collaborator, team member, or even sponsor.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to offline promotion, and engagement is sometimes much stronger. People are more likely to comment on, share, and buy your products and services.
Offline methods to promote and grow your readership:
- Events (conferences, conventions, and meetups): Go to events (or create your own) to speed up engagement and build relationships.
- Media: Pitch ideas for stories to newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, etc.
- Publications: Pitch story ideas to industry group publications, too. They’re always looking for stories and content.
- Notice Boards: Post flyers about your blog in cafes, libraries, stores, etc.
- Collaborate: Find organizations and retailers with networks of people you want to have as readers and receive value from your blog.
Links and Resources for How to Find More Traffic for Your Blog Offline:
Examples of How to Find More Traffic for Your Blog Offline
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Hey there and welcome to Episode 244 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses all designed to help you to start an amazing blog, to create brilliant content for that blog that’s going to change the lives of your readers, and also to work out how to sustain that blog, to make it a profitable venture not only for your readers but for you. You can learn more about ProBlogger and all that we do over at problogger.com.
Now, today’s podcast is brought to you by this year’s Success Incubator event, which I’m running with some good friends this coming September in Orlando, Florida. We ran our first Success Incubator last year and it was one of the highlights of my year. We’re going to evolve the event slightly this year to make it a little bit more of a Mastermind-style event. We’re limiting the numbers to keep it a little bit more intimate, and we’re also including considerable time not only for teaching—there’ll be a series of sessions which will be more workshop style—but also putting aside considerable time for Masterminding.
We’re running the event over an afternoon and then full day on the afternoon of the 24th of September, and then into the 25th of September, all day on the 25th. On the afternoon of the 24th, there’s going to be what we call our Power Sessions which are short, sharp teaching sessions, finished off by an unofficial kind of dinner, an opportunity for you to meet some of the other attendees. And then, all-day Tuesday you’re going to get some great teaching.
We have four sessions which we’re lining up, which we’re calling our Workshop Sessions, so there’s going to be input. And then also around those, having four opportunities for Masterminding. The Masterminds are all about you presenting your challenges, your situation of your online business, and allowing the rest of the group at your table to give you input, including our speakers.
You’re going to get access to some of the speakers, some people who’ve got years and years of experience, but also—this is where the value really came from last year—you’ve got access to an amazing group of other attendees who are on the same journey as you.
If you are thirsting for an opportunity for a day or so to get together with other people on this journey, to really put out there what you’re doing to have a critique, to have their ideas, and also contribute into other people’s businesses which could turn into all kinds of collaborations, then I really do encourage you to check out Success Incubator. Just head to problogger.com/successincubator.
Now, in today’s episode, Episode 244, I want to talk to you about how to find more traffic for your blog through offline measures. We have done many podcast in the past on how to grow traffic to your blog using online methods, but someone actually asked in our Facebook group in the last week or so, in other ways to do this in an offline setting. I actually think there are, and I think that beauty of going offline, is that you get a more engaged, more targeted reader. I’m going to talk a little bit about that.
I’m going to talk particularly about growing your audience through different styles of events, conferences made up, and those types of things. Then I’ve got a few other ones. Some of them are a little bit wacky but some of them I have seen do really well for different types of bloggers. If you are looking for more traffic, today’s episode is for you. You can find today’s show notes with the full transcript of the show at problogger.com/podcast/244.
Today’s episode really came about because Julianna Barnaby from thediscoveriesof.com asked in our Facebook group a question that stimulated it. She said, “I want to ask you whether you think it’s important to spend time building your personal brand and reputation outside of the online sphere., i.e., in face-to-face networking, in particular. How important do you think this is in cementing and growing your online presence, and what other channels that you found to be most rewarding? Is it conferences? Is it meetups? I would love to hear your thoughts. Julianna.”
Thank you, Julianna, for the question. In short, my answer is yes. I do think it’s really important to consider offline, as well as online, when it comes to growing your brand, your profile, seeking exposure, and particularly, finding new readers for your blog. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years in talking to thousands of bloggers, is that many bloggers struggle with the fact that a lot of their online promotion tends to get other bloggers reading your blog more than normal, real-life people. I don’t know whether that’s something that you relate to but one of the things I’ve noticed is that many newer bloggers, they tell me that most of their readers are other bloggers. They don’t actually have too many normal, everyday people. It can be a bit of an insular kind of an echo chamber. And one of the ways to break out of that, to find new readers is to go offline.
Let me just give you an example of what I mean by that. One of the big techniques that often is talked about as a way to grow your audience and to grow your profile, is to comment on other blogs. And this does work. It can get you new readers, it can build a relationship with the blogger that you’re commenting on, but it really makes a bigger impression upon the blogger than it does their readers. As a result, you can end up with this new reader or blogger, but not their readers as such. So one of the things I do encourage you to do is think about how can you find fresh audiences, and audiences are people who aren’t bloggers or podcasters or YouTubers—not that there’s anything wrong with bloggers, I have to say, because I know all of you are—but I think it’s also really important to ask yourself, “Where are the kind of reader that I want to have?” And the answer to that maybe online, but it may also be offline.
This is really important to some niches in particular. I was talking to one blogger recently and they have an audience of retirees. I know older people, retirees, people kind of in that phase of their life are definitely online today, but there’s a segment of them that perhaps aren’t as online as other ages. Maybe they’re hanging out in different places and maybe there’s an opportunity through that to reach them in different ways. That’s a big generalization, I know, but there are segments of the population who are less likely to be reading blogs, they’re less likely to be listening to podcasts, they’re less likely to be on YouTube, and so, how can you reach them? One of the answers to that is to go offline with your promotion and profile-building.
Now, what I want to do in the rest of this episode today is to give you some strategies, particularly around events, but also some other strategies for finding new readers for your blog and to build your profile. One of the things I want to say right upfront is that it’s really worth saying that some of the things I’m going to talk to you about today are not going to bring you deluges of traffic. They’re not going to create viral-like traffic. Some of them, actually, are just going to bring you one or two new readers at a time. But this is really important to hear. That’s where it starts and if you’re a new blogger, one or two new readers is actually a really important thing. Those one or two people will have a network of their own that they can potentially share what you’re doing with, and word-of-mouth always starts with one person sharing what you are doing with another person.
The other thing I’ll say about offline interactions that you might have: If you meet someone face-to-face and convinced them to read your blog, the chances of them becoming an engaged reader is much higher. The chances of that person coming back again the next day, that person sharing what you’re doing with another person is much higher than someone just randomly coming in from social media or randomly coming in from Google. Someone coming in from Google has a very high percentage chance of never coming back to your blog, not even taking notice of your logo or coming back again or sharing what you’re doing. But someone that you meet in person is going to be much more highly engaged and that person is much more likely to become a subscriber, to share what you’re doing with other people, to leave a comment, and to eventually buy something that you are selling as well.
These methods that I’m going to share with you today may not bring you millions of readers. In fact, they’re not likely to do that at all. But they’re going to bring you an amazing type of traffic and it’s well worth doing.
Okay, let’s look at some of the methods that I’ve kind of put together for you today. And I want to say right up front, I feel like I’m scratching the surface here. There are so many things that you can do and the more I thought about this, the more I realize there are all kinds of creative ways of getting your name, your profile, your blog’s URL in front of people. But let’s start with a few that I’ve come up with and, as I said, i’m going to particularly focus on events because Julianna kind of focused on that in her question.
Let’s talk about events. Events can be very powerful because they give you that face-to-face interaction that I was just talking about. They allow you to meet people in person, which gives you that chance to build a relationship which warms them up, speeds up the engagement that you might have with them. They’re powerful for that reason. They’re also powerful because most events are fairly targeted. They tend to target a niche so if you can find an event that is a good match for the type of reader you want to have, you can go to that event feeling reasonably confident that most people there are going to be potential readers or collaborators or partners or just influencers in your space. They also have a lot of people in the one space at the one time. It’s likely over an event or a day that you are likely to be in front of quite a few people, even if you are just there as an attendee.
Obviously, there’s a variety of types of events. There’s conferences. They’re essentially more around the content and teaching, and also have some networking opportunities. Then there’s exhibitions or conventions or shows, and these are more centered usually about people exhibiting their products. They don’t tend to have as much content but they’re more about the exhibition hall. And then there’s meetups. These are more centered around networking.
Now, all three types of these events can be worth attending but each presents a really different opportunity. I think it’s really worth thinking about the event you’re going to and the opportunities that it present, because there’s been times where I’ve been to an event thinking that one thing would happen and another thing ended up happening.
Let’s go through these three types again. Conferences. Conferences present opportunities for you as an attendee to network and also present opportunities perhaps, to speak or to volunteer even, or to participate in other ways. I’m going to give you examples of those in a moment.
Conventions, on the other hand, tend not to have as much, in my experience, networking opportunities. Some of them do have a bit of networking built into them. They’re not so much about finding new readers, in my experience, but they can be really good for finding new collaborators or even sponsors for your blog. For example, I’ve been to some really big camera shows. These are big exhibition spaces where all the big manufacturers are displaying their cameras. I remember going to the first of one of these thinking, “I’m going to meet lots of potential readers for my blog. There’s going to be lots of people there interested in cameras.” As it turns out, I didn’t meet any potential readers in my blog but I met a sponsor, I met other people in the media who became great contacts, I met people who could send me review units for my blog so that I can review these cameras. So it ended up being a very worthwhile time but I went there expecting that I was going to meet new readers. Conventions tend to be better for those type of opportunities, although, you’ll be open to finding new readers as well.
Meetups, on the other hand, are great for networking. They may not get you in front of the whole group but they might be small enough that you can actually get around to each person in the room individually. You can also have opportunities sometimes with meet-ups to become a sponsor, or even to help organize or offer prize for draw. There’s a variety of different smaller ways that you can be involved in meetups.
That’s kind of a summary of three of the main types of events. But what can you actually do at an event? Particularly focusing upon conferences, what can you actually do when you’re there? Now, there’s a whole art in using a conference to build your profile and perhaps that’s a topic for another podcast altogether.
But ultimately, there’s a few things you can do and probably the best one, the one most people think about, is speaking at an event. Now, speaking at an event obviously gets you in front of a lot of people quickly, particularly if you can get a main speaking slot, which is pretty much unachievable for most of us. But it is unachievable to get even the smaller speaking spots for some people. It’s something that takes time. Usually from my experience, getting asked to speak at an event means that you had to already build your profile quite a bit in an industry or you need to know someone and have a relationship with the organizers of the event in some way.
I don’t want to focus so much up on speaking at an event because perhaps that’s a little bit unachievable for those starting out, but there’s plenty of other ways that you can build your profile at an event. Ultimately, a lot of it has to do with getting out there and meeting as many other attendees, speakers, and organizers as you can. It’s largely about networking.
Now, that word, ‘networking,’ I know is sending some of you into the fetal position as you think about getting out of your comfort zone, going up to complete strangers, and introducing yourself. To be honest, I’m kind of cringing even saying the word because that’s me. I am incredibly shy. Now, I’ve learned over the years how to push myself out of my comfort zone and I’ve seen the benefits of doing that. But it doesn’t come naturally to me. And really, I find it so hard. I find it so difficult to walk up to someone, introduce myself to someone cold. Now, I’ve got the advantage these days, often speaking at events which does open up opportunities for people to come up to me, but I still find it very hard to meet new people.
I went to an event just a couple of months ago and I remember sitting in that event in this massive auditorium. I was speaking at an event, but also I just look like an attendee. I remember sitting there and I was very aware I had people on either side of me that I didn’t know. I knew instinctively that I probably should be putting my hand out saying, “Hey, I’m Darren. Nice to meet you,” but I found it so hard to do it.
But you know what? Almost every time I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone to do that, something good has come out of it. I have met people who’ve become readers in my blog. I’ve met people who are already readers of my blog who were too shy to introduce themselves. I’ve met people who’ve become collaborators. Once I met someone who became a team member of my blog. I met someone who became a sponsor of my blog who just happens to be sitting next to me in a session. It is so well worth pushing yourself out of that. Now, I know it’s hard but you need to suck yourself up for this sort of thing.
Of course, there’s plenty of other things that you can do at an event as well. I know bloggers who go to events and before they go they’ll print t-shirts with their logos so they can wear that. That often opens up a conversation. I know people who go to events dressed in fancy dress costume to draw attention to themselves. It’s probably not something I feel too comfortable doing, but it does work for some personalities. I know some people who create business cards with little mini-gifts on them. I know someone who bakes cookies to give out at conferences or put sweets on their business cards. I know people who use stickers. When I go to meetups, they stick stickers on everyone they meet, which can be a little bit try hard but also can end up fun.
There’s a variety of different things you can do at events, too. I guess make your splash a little bigger at the event. Now, you want to be careful about how you’re coming across. Some people that will come across is a little bit try hard, a little bit too self-promotional. You need to think about the event you’re going to and how that is going to be received. Some events are a little bit more conservative, so you showing up in a fancy dress putting stickers on everyone probably isn’t going to fly. But I think just being a good human being, being friendly at these types of events goes a long way.
A few other things you can do at events that I’ve seen really work for people. Number one, become prominent on the event hashtag. This is going online a little bit. I know I’m talking offline here but we’re at an event. If you’re at an event, one opportunity that may present is to become very prominent on that hashtag. Not by going spammy and not by going over the top, but by creating value on the hashtag.
I’ve seen a number of people do this at our events. We almost always have someone come at our event as an attendee who pretty much live tweets the event. Even though we got people there live tweeting in our team, there’s almost always one attendee who shines through the whole hashtag by providing value there. Answering questions, creating social graphics with quotes on them. I know some people who take visual notes and then take photos of those and put them up onto the hashtag. It’s amazing how that stands out. There’ll be plenty of other people at your event following the hashtag, and if they see someone creating value, someone being generous on the hashtag, that stands out a lot. Because sometimes hashtags get a little spammy and self-promotional, you can really stand out in that way. And that can then open up opportunities for you to meet in real life with those people.
Another thing that I’ve seen work very well at events is for you to interview people at the event. I’ve talked about this in the past in a previous episode with Michael Stelzner, who now operates Social Media Marketing World and Social Media Examiner. The first time I met him was at a conference, probably was in 2005, a blogging conference. He contacted me before the event and said, “Hey, I’m bringing a camera crew with me to this event. Would you mind if we do an interview?” I’ve never heard of Mike before but I was kind of open to that opportunity. I was speaking at the event.
It turns out he did this with every speaker at the event, and during the event he pretty much met every speaker at the event because he had this camera crew with him. He put a big backdrop up and he interviewed us. I think he was wearing a t-shirt with his URL on it. This did a number of things. Firstly got him to meet all the key speakers at the event. Number two, he get to ask these speakers lots of questions, so he gained a lot of knowledge. Number three, he built relationships with other people at the event at well because he was being seen to be with the speakers and he pretty much launched his whole blog off this idea of interviewing people at the event.
Now, you may not be able to afford to get a camera crew at your event. But the fact is, you probably have a camera in your pocket already. You could be pulling out your iPhone at the end of sessions and saying to speakers, “Hey, do you mind if I ask you one question?” That is going to get on their radar and it gives you an opportunity after the event to contact that speaker and say, “Hey, here’s the YouTube clip of me asking that question.” Gives you a chance to take that relationship a little bit further. And it may also mean that that influencer, that speaker shares the clip with their network as well.
You can do the same thing not only with speakers but attendees as well, with the organizers of the event. This is just a great way to break the ice with people rather than going up and saying, “Hi, I’m Darren, um—” and then having an awkward moment of small talk. You could say, “Hey, I’m Darren. I am doing a few quick interviews. Would you mind me asking you a question or two?” I would advise you to keep it as short as you can. You don’t want to be dominating someone’s day by doing a 45-minute interview with them. Just a question or two can be really useful. That’s something you could try at an event.
The third thing you might want to try at an event, many events are calling for volunteers to be a part of running the event. This can take you away from the content of the event sometimes but it can also put you in a position to sometimes be up front or involved with speakers. Sometimes it just gives you a way to break the ice with other attendees because you are welcoming them, you’re greeting them, you’re signing them in, these types of things. And this can open up opportunities for you to have chats with people as well.
The fourth thing that you might want to do at an event is to be involved in other ways that the event is calling for. I went to an event recently and they were running what they called Table Talks during the breaks. These were with the head tables set out for people to chat about a particular topic. Each table had a leader, a moderator. Lots of conferences do this type of thing. These are volunteers who become the moderators but they get you in front of a group of people, and again, give you opportunities to talk about what you do. So, just be open to ideas and opportunities that might come.
I know one person, every event she goes to, she contacts the event organizer and says, “Hi, I’m a yoga teacher. Do you mind me doing a yoga session at 6:00 before the event starts?” Not every attendee is going to give you a space in their event to do yoga, but many event organizers are looking to add little quirky things like that in their events. It might get a little bit more interesting. And this person who tell me that they do this, says that most event organizers say yes, many of them give her a space to do it and many of them actually promote the fact that she’s doing it and they promote who she is as well.
Other things that you could add at an event. I know another blogger who always does a photo walk every event he goes to. Just an opportunity get a group of people together, who share an interest, to spend some time with them, and to be seen to be doing something proactive and constructive as well. Gets you on the radar of the event organizer but also attendees and can sometimes lead to other cool things as well.
Last thing aside that you might want to do at an event is consider sponsoring it. This may not be achievable for many of us because the big conferences particularly can charge quite a bit for sponsorship, but there’s a small event in your area where they are looking for s smaller sponsor, or they’re looking for someone to donate a prize, or they’re looking for someone to promote the event and they’re willing to promote you in exchange for that. Many events will talk to you about different ways that you can be involved in that as well. They could use some promotion as well.
The more I’m talking about smaller events they don’t just target the big events. I know some of you are going, “Well, I can’t afford to fly to Orlando to go to an event or to Vegas to go to an event,” but you might find it there are local events in your area that may not be as big. They may not get you in front of as many people but they do still present the type or reader that you want to have and people that you want to network with.
A couple of other things I would say about events. One other thing that I’ll mention is that there’s an opportunity, not only to attend the event of other people but to run your own event as well. This doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be expensive. At ProBlogger, we obviously run some bigger events. I just told you about Success Incubator which we’ll be doing in Orlando this year but we also ran events in Australia and we’ve had up to 700 people at those events.
But do you know what? Our events started much smaller. The first ProBlogger event we ran was for 100 people but before I did that, in 2005 I ran a meet-up and 10 people came in. That doesn’t sound like much, but do you know what? I know four of those people still today read ProBlogger and they’ve been reading ProBlogger since 2005. They’ve shown up at ProBlogger probably hundreds of hundreds of times each of them and they’ve told other people about ProBlogger.
To run that event it was so easy. I just registered it on meetups.com, which is a place that advertises meetups. Just by simply advertising on meetups.com I got a few people coming to the event who’ve never heard of me before. They became new readers but then I also advertise it to my current readers and some of those came as well. There wasn’t many people to that first meet-up. But the second time I ran that meet-up I had 20 or so people. Later on, that became our 100-person event ProBlogger. Even a small meet-up like that can work.
The other option is to collaborate about doing a meetup or an event as well. Maybe you could join with two other bloggers in your local area and run an event together, maybe a couple of podcasts, or maybe look for other types of partners as well. I’m going to talk at the end of this podcast about other types of collaborations but maybe there’s other partners like a media outlet or a brand or a local government agency or your local library. There’s a variety of different potential partners that may be able to work with you on events.
There’s also another kind of event that I’ve seen a number of bloggers used and that is local markets or swap meets. Now, just stick with me here. This sounds a little bit random but let me give you a couple of examples. This is going to depend a little upon your particular niche. The key is to find a market or a swap meet or some other kind of local event that matches with your topic. I can think of a few bloggers who’ve done this.
I can think of one fashion blogger who get sent quite a bit of second-hand kind of clothing. I’m sorry. She doesn’t get sent second-hand clothing, she get sent new clothing by brands. She gets gifted these to review on her blog. Most of it she doesn’t really want to keep so she sells it, which I think is kind of an interesting way to monetize a blog and the brands are fine with it. She goes to second-hand markets that operates every now and again in her area to sell the products. But while she’s there she’s also promote her blogs. She had this sign made that is the name of her blog and she has some business cards on a table in front of the clothes that she’s selling and some flyers. She promotes the fact that she’s going to be at that market on her blog as well and does a prize draw for anyone who signs up for her newsletter at the event. She’s there primarily to make some money to sell some stuff but she also uses that opportunity because she’s in public to promote her blog as well.
I know another parenting blogger who attends craft markets. Again, second-hand kids’ toys and clothes markets. She doesn’t go to these to sell anything. She actually hires a booth to promote her blog. She gets this booth, everyone around her is selling stuff, and she’s there handing out her business card, she’s got a screen set up with her blog on it, she runs a competition to get people to sign up for her newsletter, she’s got little gift packs to hand out to people that promotes her blog. She actually creates a real buzz in the middle of this craft market, and it’s all about her blog. She doesn’t make any money, costs her about $50-$100 depending on the market to do it, but she gets new readers every time she got people signing up for her newsletter.
I’ve seen another car blogger do this as well. He goes to car events and he ask the car event organizers if he can either be a sponsor or he can setup a little booth in return for income. He does a similar kind of stuff.
So, other markets, other second-hand markets, other swap meets, other places where your kind of reader is showing up. Now, most of this is localized. Most of this is happening in your local area, so it’s probably going to better suit you if you are trying to reach a local audience but it doesn’t really matter. Many of these bloggers are actually looking for a wider audience but they end up having quite a few in their local area as well. These are just creative-wise thinking about it.
The last type of event you might want to think about running yourself is a free workshop. Now, I’ve mentioned this strategy in a previous episode as well, so I’m not going to go into great detail. In my early days of blogging, particularly my early photography blog, I used to run camera training workshops at my local library. I noticed that the library just around the corner from my house was doing these Thursday night workshops and they’re doing it on all kinds of topics.
I went to one, someone else was running on traveling to Morocco, for example. It was kind of random. I approached the librarian and said, “Hey, I know a bit about cameras. Would you like me to run an event on how to take better photos?” And they said, “Sure.” Well, I was looking for new topics.
So I ran my first one and I think about 30 people came. I didn’t know any of them, I didn’t promote it on my end at all. It was just 30 library members. I talked for 45 minutes, answered a few questions, and you know what? I know for a fact that many or at least some of those 20 or 30 people that came to that event became readers of my blog for years after that. I ended up running a number of these events and they grew every time I did it because people recommended it to other people.
Now there’s lots of community groups out there who are doing this type of thing, a running free workshop on things. Maybe it’s your local library, maybe it’s your school, maybe it’s your university, maybe it’s a church, maybe it’s a community group, maybe it’s a parenting group. I know there are parenting playgroup type of scenarios in our local area that bring in experts all the time to speak about different topics that relate to parents. Maybe it’s a men’s group, or a women’s group, or a sporting club, or a hobby-related club, or a local council, a chambers of commerce.
You probably won’t get paid anything for any of these but that’s good free exposure. And also to do practice at public speaking. This is gold. If you eventually want to be a keynote speaker at a big conference, you got to start somewhere learning the craft to speaking. These type of little opportunities to get up in front of a few people and to share can be good in the now but also to give you new skills as well.
The last thing to talk about those type of speaking opportunities is that sometimes that open up doors to speak at other larger events as well. I think it’s the second time I did that library workshop, there was someone who came to that who actually ran a larger photography event. He came because he thought, “Huh, this is interesting. I want to see what this guy knows,” and me getting that talk led me to being invited to this larger event that about 300-400 people at a camera club I was putting on. And it gave me an opportunity to speak in front of 300-400 people. You never know who’s in the audience. You never who the one or two people that you’re taking to might be or who they might know that might open up other opportunities.
Okay, I’ve covered events in quite a bit of detail there and hoped that you found some ideas through that. What I want to do now is talk about a few other things that you can do to promote your blog offline. Some of these will relate to some of you better than others but you know…
The second thing I want to talk about is media. Mainstream media are always looking for fresh stories. Now, you might hear mainstream media and go, “Oh, mainstream media is dead.” It’s actually not dead at all. The online world has overtaken a lot of it but mainstream media still is being consumed by lots of people. They’re always looking for ideas, for stories as well. The thing I’ve noticed about many mainstream media I like is that they are putting off journalists left, right, and center and there’s opportunities there to both pitch stories and help the journalists that remain, but also potentially to even write for mainstream media as well.
If you are going to pitch stories for mainstream media, you get through sort of the big media outlets, the national television shows in most type of things. You’ll probably more likely to get a response from the local television stations or local radio or local papers as well. And again, what you’ll find here is that if you can get into a local kind of space, then that can sometimes open up opportunities for you to get picked up or syndicated by larger outlets as well.
I talked to one blogger about a year ago now who told me they pitched their local suburban paper with stories about every six months and they had 80% hit rate on those. Again, she sent a couple of those and then being picked up by larger media outlets. Actually what she does is she take the article that’s written and then she send it on to the larger media. Sometimes they then syndicate that kind of content or pick it up and expand upon that story.
Now, think across the board here. TV can work, newspapers sounds a bit old-fashioned but they’re still being delivered, radio. Vanessa, my partner now wife, had a regular spot recently on a local radio station. She was invited to go on to do a five-minute spot every Saturday morning with a fashion tip. The radio host would interview her about things, pre-recorded and then played at live on the air. It was very easy for her to do that, that it gave her exposure to that audience. Free publicity for her blog. Of course, the radio station got five minutes of content out of it as well. So it’s a win-win type thing. She wasn’t paid, but it brought in new readers.
If you do want to think about media there, there are a couple of different services the could put you in touch with journalists. Probably the largest and best-known of them is Help A Reporter or HARO. You can find it at helpareporter.com. It’s a site that matches sources or experts in different areas with journalists. So if a journalist is writing about a particular topic and needs a quote or they need an insight on that particular topic, they go to helpareporter.com, they type in their topic and register that they’re looking for a quote or looking for a source and then you, if you registered as a source and you told HARO what your areas of expertise are, you get emailed when there’s a match between what journalist are looking for and what you know about.
There’s a number of these types of services out there. There’s an Aussie service called sourcebottle.com. They’re actually global now, they started here in Australia and they do a very similar thing to HARO.
These are ways that you can just register and then get told when there are media opportunities. You never know whether it’s going to be a journalist with a big audience or a small one. I’ve heard stories of people getting approached by tiny media outlets, but then others where HARO has opened up a spot on National Television in America in one of the breakfast shows, so you never quite know. It could be well-worth going as well.
The other type of media that you might want to explore is actually writing for the media as well. I mentioned just a moment ago how many a media outlet now have shrunk the amount of journalists they have and they actually now using freelance writers quite a bit. There maybe opportunity for you to pitch for articles in mainstream media. You may get paid, you may not, you may just get a byline. You obviously need to go into that knowing what the agreement is, but it can be an opportunity to grow your profile.
The other type of thing that’s kind of similar to media is other kinds of offline publications. Maybe there’s opportunity in the industry groups that relate to your topic. I know in the financial services, here in Australia there’s an accounting kind of body, there’s bodies for marketers, there’s bodies in different kind of industries, and many of these bodies have publications. Maybe it’s a newsletter that they email out every week or every month. Or maybe they still do a magazine and there’s opportunities in that case to be featured or to write content for those as well.
I know one blogger who works in the financial services industry. He’s a blogger. He’s got a blog on that particular topic and he approached a national body in his industry—the body has tens of thousands of members—and he offered to write them an article every quarter for them to use in their industry magazine. They jumped at the opportunity because he said he’ll do it for free as long as he get a byline. I think he might even get a small honorarium sort of payment for that, but it’s certainly not freelance rates. But they negotiated for him to promote his blog as part of that agreement.
Every quarter he sees a spike in traffic and subscribers. And he also told me that it has led to all kinds of other opportunities, particular speaking requests. Because he’s in the industry body magazine, every time it goes out, people get to know his name. He’s build his credibility and it opens up opportunities for him as well.
Similarly on digital photography school, we allow our articles to be republished by camera clubs in their newsletters. We have a rule that they’re not allowed to publish it on their websites because we don’t want the same content appearing on lots of websites, but we allow them to send it to their members, either if they print it out or via email, as long as there’s attribution as to where it came from. I know for a fact that by us allowing camera clubs to do that, that we found new readers. It bought us the type of readers we want. Someone who’s in the camera club is enthusiastic about their photography and that’s the type of person we want reading our site.
There might be opportunities for you to allow some of your previously published blog content to appear in different places. An example of this that I can think of here in Australia is a particular airline, Virgin Australia, has podcasts in their in-flight entertainment. I know a number of bloggers who have their content featured in that in-flight entertainment. I don’t think that they get paid a lot for that. I think there is some small fee that they are paid potentially—don’t quote me on that—but they get new listeners as a result of that. Is there a way that your content can be shared in another place by different kind of organization? There may be opportunities there for you to grow credibility and to grow your audience as a result.
Okay, the next one I want to talk about is notice boards and this is kind of a fun one. It’s one of those ones where you may not end up getting thousands and thousands of new readers for that, but it could get you the right kind of reader. I was at a local cafe a couple of years ago and I noticed they have this notice board. I ordered my coffee inside when I just noticed the notice board. It’s a type of notice board you probably seeing everywhere you go. You see these almost everyday. It allowed people to post flyers of events, or leave a business card for their business.
In the middle of this notice board was this flyer that was promoting a blog. I was like, “Wow! I’ve never seen anyone do that before.” It was beautifully designed, in color, stood out from everything else in the notice board, and it basically was about this particular blog. I think the blog was about parenting. It was particularly targeting parents in Melbourne, where I live. I took notice of it. Actually, I took notice of her URL and her Twitter handle.
I reached out to her on Twitter and said, “Hey, I just saw your flyer. I’d love to know how it works for you leaving that flyer there.” I thought she probably just left the flyer in that cafe. We have this DM conversation and she says she actually has this little folder in her car full of these flyers and every time she sees a community notice board, she goes to her car and gets one of the notices and puts it up.
She only does it in places where she’s allowed to do it, of course, but they go up in cafes, shopping malls, libraries, schools, churches, doctors’ surgeries, shop windows, anywhere where she sees other people doing it and there’s an invitation to do that, she puts one up. She usually asks for permission as well just to make sure. She told me that she pretty much puts one of those up everyday and was something that has worked for her. Her audience is a little bit more local. She’s targeting people within the city so it makes sense to do that, but maybe there’s some ways for you to grow your audience in that way.
One more example of a blogger who uses notice boards. I came across this blogger years ago. He had a blog targeting students. Don’t know if the blog is still alive anymore but at that time, he was offering courses that help the students to study. He printed up flyers and he was particularly looking for university students or college students. He put up these notices with a free opt-in on it.
It was one of this little notice flyers that had a little tear-off bits at the bottom with a URL. He used this URL, it said, “Tear off one of these, take it home, go to this website, plug-in your details, and we’ll send you a free study guide or we’ll send you something that’s going to help you with your studies.” He was only doing it in the local university and colleges in his city at the time, but had such an impact and he saw a number of people not only getting the opt-in, but buying his upsell from his opt-in as well. He ended up hiring people to do it in other cities around the U.S. as well. He had people in cities everywhere putting his flyers up. He paid them basically to go once a month and put up new ones because they actually drew him not only readers but drew him customers as well.
So maybe notice boards. I don’t know. It’s probably going to depend upon your topic on whether you can find a notice board kind of location that matches with what you are trying to do.
The last thing I want to talk about is collaborations. I kind of mentioned a number of these sort of collaborations already. But I really would encourage you to think creatively about other kinds of collaborators, other types of organizations that maybe already have networks and profile with the kind of person you want to read your blog. What could you offer them that gives them a win if they help you out by giving you some exposure or introducing you to the right people?
Earlier I gave you the example of where I spoke at my local library and in some ways, that was a collaboration. I gave them a workshop, I gave them some content, I got people into their library who maybe wouldn’t have come into their library on that particular day, and they promoted what I was doing to their members, which got me new readers and exposure.
There’s so many different ways that you could potentially do this and here’s just a few of them. What about your local government? Here in Australia we call them our local council, maybe it’s a local chamber of commerce, I don’t know what you call it in your particular area, but many times a local kind of governments and councils are running events. Now what events are they running that relate to what you do? What programs do they have? What services do they have for the type of person you were trying to reach out to?
If you are a parenting blogger, most local councils in our area are doing kind of early childhood kind of word in some form or another. Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to volunteer, for you to sponsor, for you to participate in the events that they run, for you to speak at their events in some way.
Same with industry associations. Other opportunities to collaborate. We’ve already talked about how you can write for their newsletters, but are they looking for speakers for their events? Are they looking for volunteers to help them run their events? Are they looking for help with their social media? Are they just running meet-up, some sales that you need to be participating in?
On last one, retailers. Retailers have databases of customers and if you can find a retailer that is selling something that you are writing about, then sometimes there can be synergy there. Now, this never actually came off but for a while there I was talking to one camera store retailer. We were talking really seriously about me offering them a free ebook to go with every camera that they sold. Now it didn’t end up working out in the end. They kind of go a little bit of cold feet. We didn’t quite work out the delivery system on it, but that would have been a great opportunity.
This camera store is selling thousands of cameras every month. What if I had the opportunity to have one of my ebooks go alongside each of those cameras that taught people how to use that camera and had maybe some opt-in associated with that, where I could capture their email address and get them across my blog a little bit more.
Maybe there’s some sort of creative ways that you could get out and collaborate with some other kind of organization that’s already got the kind of reader that you want to have. Brainstorm it, where are your readers gathering? Where are they buying products? What events are they heading to? Where do they go locally? Who are they listening to that you could reach out to and have a collaboration with? All these sort of collaborative opportunities, almost all of them that I’ve ever had have come out of relationships. The more you can get out there, you can meet people in your industry, you can hear what they do, you can listen to the outcomes that they want, and then you can communicate what you’re trying to do, and try to find some win-win exchanges that you can have with them. And who knows what will come as a result of that.
Many times, the things that I’ve talked to you about today, these things have relatively low costs. Probably going to an event is the highest cost, one I understand that that can be a little bit out of some people’s budgets. But many things I’ve talked about today, don’t really have much cost to them apart from your time and your effort. So I wish you luck in promoting your blog and your business in the offline space, as well.
Now if you like, I just scratched the surface today. I’ve seen people do so many other things I could talk about, printing and giving away t-shirts with your blog’s name and your URL on them, or giving away other kind of merchandise. I know one blogger who gives out coffee mugs and he tells me people see people drinking from that coffee mug and ask what that is about, maybe you can donate prizes at a local fundraiser, maybe you could offer to judge competitions, maybe you could put on an award ceremony in your local area. All these things can help you to find the reader that you want to have. And I would love to hear what you’ve tried. The sky’s the limit, really and the more we hear from each other on what we do, the better.
So if you tried any offline promotion, whether it’s worked or not, I’d love to hear about it. You can leave a comment on today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/244 or you could head to our ProBlogger community on Facebook. Just search ‘ProBlogger community’ and you’ll find our Facebook group there. You can tell us, give us a tip. Just start with a hashtag tip or advice or something like that and let us know what it is that you have tried. Let’s share the knowledge, let’s learn from each other. It’s so much better when we do that.
Thanks so much for listening today. There’s been a lot of content from today’s show. Thank you for sticking with me through it. I’m almost losing my voice because of this podcast today, there’s so much I’ve talked about. I’d love hearing from many of you in the last week or so. In fact, I saw new reviews on iTunes a couple of weeks ago now. And over the next few days I had another 10 new reviews left on iTunes. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for those. They bring me great joy and encouragement. If you got a moment and you are listening to this on iTunes or on the podcast store in the Apple one, or any other one, please do leave us a review. Leave us a rating. It helps us to grow, gives me energy and inspiration as well.
I really hope you have a great week of blogging. Do check out Success Incubator again. It is happening 24th-25th of September in Orlando, Florida. Here in Australia, you’re waiting for our event details, stay tuned. It all happen later this year and I will let you know here in the podcast when that goes live. Success Incubator, just head over to problogger.com/success. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.
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