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Blogging can be tough.
There, I said it. While it's true that starting a blog can be the best decision you'll ever make, it can also be quite a challenge, especially during the first year. You spend tons of time writing these amazing articles, then nobody comes to your site to appreciate them. It's frustrating.
As two people who have multiple baby blogs and established blogs at any given time, we can tell you with certainty that it DOES get easier. If you keep at this, there will eventually come a time when you can publish a post, do nothing, and still get tons of traffic and shares. That's not to say you shouldn't have a strategy for promotion, just that search engines and your established audience will do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Unfortunately, that time never seems to come as quickly as we'd all like, and in the beginning, it's really important to establish a marketing plan – specifically, where you'll promote your blog posts so you can get that crucial early traffic. There are literally hundreds of sites where you can submit or share your links, but the overwhelming majority are going to be useless to you. Some are too small to drive traffic, others have potential but require more work than they're worth, and some just aren't a good fit for the average blogger.
So where SHOULD you promote your blog posts to get the best bang for your buck? We've gathered a list, laid out in no particular order. We'd love to say one or another is “best”, but the reality is that different places work differently for different sites. Some people just have more of a knack for some platforms than others, too.
The 10 Best Free Places to Promote Your Blog Posts…
1 | Your Facebook Page
Your Facebook page is your brand's home on Facebook, and even though organic reach has been down in recent years, it can still be a good investment of your time, particularly if your audience skews a bit older. Unlike the relatively shallow experience Instagram offers, Facebook allows you to write posts, easily share links, and generally present information in more ways.
2 | Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are a great little “free reach” hack. With a page, you won't get reach if you don't have followers. With groups, you can locate relevant groups created and maintained by OTHER PEOPLE and get great reach on your content IF people like it. You can join a group with 50,000 members, and assuming you're following the group rules and people like your content, you can get huge bursts of traffic within 24-48 hours.
The downside, of course, is that people have to like your content. You need great descriptions, preview images, and titles that entice people to click. If you don't have much of a head for marketing yet, it's a great way to get practice seeing how people respond to different hooks.
Unlike pages, there's a bit of etiquette to Facebook groups. If you join a group and do nothing but post your own stuff, they probably won't keep you around long. In most cases, anything too salesy will be removed by admins. Some groups don't allow links at all, and others won't allow you to link to anything you own. It can take a bit of searching to find the right mix of groups and sharing strategy, and that does take time – but it can be worth it.
What about building your own Facebook group?
If you can't find niche-appropriate groups willing to let you share your content, there's always the option of building your own group. Then, you can be the one to decide how much self-promotion is too much, and whether you'll allow your competitors to do the same within your group. A group can also be a really good way to get more insight into your audience and build long-term relationships with your readers.
That doesn't mean it's always the best course of action, though. Facebook groups can be a HUGE time suck, and they tend to attract a lot more drama than most of us want in our lives. Having a good team of moderators (NOT admins, since an admin can remove you from your own group) helps, but it can be hard to keep moderators invested as much as you are. Facebook has also been hacking away at organic reach within groups, too, so there's no guarantee you'll get results, even if you manage to attract a huge following.
3 | Instagram
While Instagram doesn't offer the depth of options you get on other platforms, its size can make up for it. They've made it a little easier to share links in recent months (once you get 10,000 followers), but it still takes a bit more work to get people to move from your IG content to your actual site.
If you're targeting a younger demographic, you'll almost definitely want to have a plan for Instagram. Starting out, you'll only be able to share links in your bio (unless you pay), but even that can be useful – and all the while, you'll be building recognition and familiarity with your audience.
4 | LinkedIn
Not everything fits in on LinkedIn, as it's definitely a more professional-packed platform than some of the others on this list. If you're blogging about business or a topic of interest to businesses (marketing, industry news, trends, and so on), this can be a great fit for your content. If you're blogging about homeschool tips and how to stretch a grocery budget, you may have a harder time finding your place on LinkedIn.
5 | Medium
A lot of bloggers don't realize this, but you can actually syndicate your already-published articles on Medium to gain exposure and reach a whole new group of readers. There are actually tons of places where you can syndicate your content, but Medium is one we recommend because they support the user of the rel=”canonical” tag. That tells Google that you're still the original, preferred origin of the content – and it helps prevent you from being outranked by Medium for your own content.
–Yoast has a lengthy guide to the rel=”canonical” tag
When you syndicate your content at Medium, each article will appear with an “originally published at” link to your website. You shouldn't expect huge amounts of traffic that way, but the people who do come will be highly engaged.
6 | YouTube
If you're in an ad network like Mediavine, you likely have at least a couple of videos that were created for the express purpose of hosting video ads (and if you don't have some, get some – it can really improve your earnings).
Even if you're not already making videos, though, you can use tools like Animoto or Lumen5 to quickly and easily turn blog posts into videos, then share them on YouTube to gain additional audience, traffic, and eventually, even ad revenue on the videos themselves (YouTube requires 1000 subscribers and a minimum of 4000 hours of total watch time if you want to monetize your videos).
One of the great things about YouTube is that it works much like the main Google search engine (in that you can optimize your videos), but it's much easier to rank well quickly because there isn't as much competition as you'd find optimizing for Google. Even with a relatively small number of followers and new set of videos, you can start to get some traction pretty quickly.
7 | Reddit
If you're not familiar with Reddit, you should be. It's both blessing and curse, capable of eating hours of your time or delivering loads of great traffic – but to make it work, you need to understand the platform. Reddit has thousands of little communities (subreddits) where people subscribe to get links, videos, images, and discussions on topics that interest them.
The typical Reddit user is between 18 and 29, though some subreddits skew older or younger. My recommendation for this platform is to find any sizable subreddits related to your niche, then subscribe to them. Spend a little time figuring out what kind of discussions and contents go over well, and start off by submitting a few things that aren't yours. Once you get a feel for the place, THEN start mixing in some of your own content as appropriate. Being too heavy-handed here can backfire in a big way, but if you can play it cool and add real value, the traffic can be great.
8 | Flipboard
Flipboard is sort of like Pinterest, but also…not. It allows you to create magazines, which are a bit like Pinterest boards. You submit your blog posts to your magazine(s), and other users can also save them to theirs. For the most part, it's a slow trickle of traffic, but if you have a post go viral, it can send thousands of visits a day.
9 | Pinterest
For many bloggers, Pinterest is either their #1 or #2 source of traffic. It can be terribly addictive, as the traffic potential is huge and it can actually be a lot of fun managing your efforts (though many bloggers do eventually outsource it to save time). Though it's best for bloggers seeking to reach a female audience, the platform does have its share of male users.
We won't go into detail on strategy here because that's a MUCH larger topic, but suffice to say, it's worth the effort to learn how to leverage Pinterest.
10 | Mix
Back in the dark ages of the internet when I had a day job, there was something called StumbleUpon. It was a browser plugin that let you choose topics you like, then hit “Stumble” and be sent to a random site it believed you would like. You'd hit either “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to let it know if it was right.
Sites receiving tons of “thumbs up” would get enormous bursts of traffic – not always the most highly engaged traffic, but the numbers made up for it. Today, StumbleUpon continues to exist as Mix, and it can work really well for bloggers with interesting content.
How to Know Where to Promote Your Blog
Obviously, you can't be effective on all these sites while also creating tons of fresh content – maybe if you have a huge budget and you can hire out loads of things, but if you're starting a blog, that's rarely the case. If you're a typical new blogger, it's best to focus on just a few of these platforms.
Get a sense of how they work, whether they're a good fit for your site, and give them some serious effort before deciding whether you need to move in a different direction. While it might take a while to start getting search engine traffic to a new blog, most of the sites above have the potential to deliver substantial traffic in days or weeks rather than months or years. Not always, but often enough that I wouldn't call it unusual.
Be patient, figure out which ones are right for you, and know that eventually, it WILL get easier.
Save it to Pinterest!