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Doubling your blog readership with one guest post.
Tripling your email list with one speaking engagement.
Growing your Instagram from 234 to 2,340 followers with one simple strategy.
It’s the business dream, amiright?
Okay, the real business dream might actually be sipping mimosas with Richard Branson on Necker Island, but this is a close second.
I get really excited by magical business moments that create a snowball effect, leading to lots of new followers, and if you play it smart, lots of new sales.
You land an amazing opportunity like a speaking engagement which helps you sell out your next online course.
You get featured on a blog with a readership in the millions and triple your email list within two weeks.
Or, you win the entrepreneurial lottery when Oprah mentions your product and you have to hire a team of 67 to keep up with production. It’s a nice thought (unless hiring 67 employees makes you nauseous).
I’ve had exactly eight of those ‘oh-my-gosh-is-this-really-happening’ experiences in the past five years of running my online business, and in this blog post, I’m going to share five of them with you.
Why not all eight? Because a couple of the strategies are repeats (or very similar) and five is a pretty, round number and I’m a fan of pretty. (Polka dots, Anthropologie mugs, blush pink nails. Yes, please.)
Most of the time, marketing techniques take time.
So much time that you think you’ll be old with sprouting chin hair before they actually work for you. (Ladies, you know you fear chin hair, too. Don’t lie.)
While that gradual stuff is important, it doesn’t get my mojo pumping like those magical business moments. We need both, the gradual and the instant or we tend to lose steam.
We’re going to focus on the fun stuff today—the techniques that produce instant results.
Before I spill the jellybeans on these five marketing methods, I want to include two caveats because I want you to spend time on things that will work for you.
And, if you just pluck from this list and try something, you might waste your time and ain’t nobody got time for that.
Caveat #1: You have to get clear on what you’re trying to accomplish by attracting more followers to your business.
What are you going to do with them when you get them there?
What’s the plan? Are you trying to grow interest and sales for your latest product line? Do you have a landing page set up to collect email addresses? Do you even have anything for sale yet?
Creating a plan needs to become your number one mission. (Hint: You can download my workbook, Your Dream Life and Business, for free just by RSVPing for my upcoming CreativeLive course, right here. This workbook will help you get clear on what you really want to accomplish with your marketing.)
Once you have a thoughtful agenda, it’ll be easier to pick one of the strategies below and apply it to your business. You’ll need to modify these ideas so they fit your goals and brand, but don’t reinvent the wheel.
Caveat #2: For these techniques to work it usually takes a combination of incredibly hard work, luck, and beautiful timing.
You can’t buy yourself any luck, but the more you put in hard work, the more luck you’ll stumble upon.
In this blog post, I’m sharing five tactics I’ve personally used to double my followers over the course of running my business. (I just celebrated my five-year anniversary! Pop the Cristal.)
Some of them might work for you. Some of them won’t.
Play. Experiment. Marketing should be fun.
Now, that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time for the good stuff. Here are five specific ways I at least doubled a segment of my online followers:
1. I grew my one-month old blog from 20 to 800 daily readers by hosting a blog series.
Back in the very beginning of my business, I entered a contest to win a consulting session with Srini from The Unmistakable Creative.
I didn’t think I had any chance of winning, but I did. (Lesson: Try even when you think it’s just as likely that you’ll get on the Ellen show because your dog can howl along to Journey’s “Any Way You Want It.”)
During that hour-long chat about the things I could do to grow my blog, he suggested that I connect to other creatives in and out of my niche content by hosting a blog series.
I ran with the idea, deciding on a topic (using social media to grow your business/blog) and emailing each woman who I wanted to participate to introduce the blog series and myself.
If you want more information on what a blog series is, how you could replicate this for yourself and the details that made mine a success, listen to this 20-minute interview where I dive into exactly how I set it up and completed it. (And, you’ll get to hear my thoughts on business as a starry-eyed, semi-naïve online business owner who’s just starting out.)
A handful of small details made the blog series a huge success:
a) I made a list of the women I really wanted to be a part of the series without getting scared off by their much larger audiences. My blog was only a month old, I barely had any readers, and I didn’t have much content up yet.
My first thought was, “I’m a nobody. Why would anyone say yes when I have less than 20 blog readers?”
I pushed past the stomach-churning terror, held my breath, and sent the emails inviting them to participate.
When I emailed the women, I sent a personal email to each of them (instead of sending a mass email, cc-ing each of them). I let them know why I thought they would be a good fit and I told them how it would help their businesses—not just mine.
Most said yes!
b) I made it really easy for the women to say yes. In the emails, I told them that I’d write an intro to the series and that on the day of their part, they’d publish their blog post on their own blogs.
Since they were each already blogging, this was a way for them to have a pre-determined topic to blog about (which we all know makes blogging easier) and a way for them to connect to each other.
I sold it as “You’re doing this already, so this might be a fun way to create blog content for this week. It’s not really any extra work.”
c) The woman in charge of Etsy seller education at the time checked out the series and shared it on the Etsy Success Reading List and in the Etsy Seller Newsletter.
That drove hundreds of new readers to my website and to the other ladies’ websites who participated.
d) I emailed the women each day during the series with easy to copy-and-paste tweets to make sharing each other’s blog posts on social media much easier.
e) Once the series wrapped, I put together an ebook that included each contributor’s blog post. I sent it to them, telling them that they could use the ebook any way that they wanted to. They could add it to their blog post for the series, make it an opt-in for their email newsletter or anything else.
This way the series continued to have traction well after it ended.
It was the first thing I did to grow my readership rapidly.
2. I doubled my email list by guest posting on Design*Sponge.
When you’re trying to grow your blog readership, you should spend just as much time creating content for other sites (with larger readerships) as you do creating content for your blog.
I made a list of blogs that my target market read regularly and started pitching guest post ideas.
One the blogs scribbled on my dream list was Design*Sponge. I pitched them a post for their Biz Ladies series, they said yes, and I wrote the best post I could write at the time. It drove thousands of new blog readers and hundreds of new email subscribers my way.
The trick of making this work is to: a) make sure that you’re pitching blogs that YOUR target market is reading b) pitch blogs that accept guest posts c) write high-quality posts, because if they’re crap, their readers aren’t going to take the extra step to check out your site or opt-in to your email list.
3. I doubled my blog readership when I got featured on the Etsy Success Reading List.
Once I got onto Etsy’s radar, they started featuring my blog posts on the Etsy Success Reading Lists they published weekly. I don’t believe they create these anymore, but they were a big hit four and a half years ago.
They included the list in their Etsy Seller newsletters, so it drove tons of creative entrepreneurs to my blog. I was featured on their reading lists a handful of times over the course of a few months.
It’s hard to replicate this one. The best thing you can do is: a) take risks because I would’ve never gotten on their radar if I hadn’t hosted that blog series b) create the most compelling, helpful content possible so that other people want to share it and talk about it. The better your content, the more likely people will feature it and tell their audiences about it.
4. I grew my Instagram following from 520 followers to 1,100+ followers by hosting a monthly challenge.
If you’re using Instagram to market your business, you’ve probably seen a monthly Instagram challenge or two.
For mine, I compiled a list of 30 inspirational phrases and encouraged my blog readers and email subscribers to post a picture inspired by that day’s phrase as many times as possible during that month.
I included a hashtag (#BelleInstaInspiration–which currently has 1,973 posts) for my followers to use, so that we could find each other’s posts on Instagram and encouraged them to connect with each other during the 30 days.
A bunch of my followers participated, tagging me in photos, which led their followers to check out my Instagram account.
Before I hosted the challenge, I made sure my Instagram was branded and ready for new eyeballs.
If my Instagram pictures looked like a jumbled mess, I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as many new followers. High-quality content is always a must, no matter which platform you’re trying to grow.
5. I doubled my blog readership by teaching at CreativeLive. (Woot woot!)
Speaking engagements have been a great way for me to reach new followers. But, none of my past speaking engagements have created as much growth for me as teaching at CreativeLive. (It’s one of the reasons I’m coming back for a third time later this month. Get reeeeeeeady!)
Because I’m a service-based business, speaking and teaching are essential strategies for growth. I can share my knowledge with thousands of new people for free and if they like what they see, they’ll come hang out with me over on Blacksburg Belle. And, some transition to loyal, repeat customers.
If it makes sense for your business, I can’t recommend teaching and speaking enough.
That’s it, my friends. Those are my not-so-secret magic business moments that have propelled my business forward.
Pick a marketing technique that feels a bit risky and try it. It can pay off big.
Remember, that you want to keep in mind what your purpose is when you’re growing your following. This will keep you from wasting time and make growing your business easier.
If you want more information on how to double your online following, don’t forget to RSVP for my upcoming course, Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing.
I’m covering everything you need to know to create a strategic marketing plan that will help you reach your business goals.
This includes a) what you really need to know about your target market to b) how to market your business on social media without wanting to poke your eyeballs out due to the hours you’re spending on social media to c) how to use video to connect with your audience and sell your products. And, much more (Which means we get to spend five weeks together. Oh yeah.)
I hope you join me!