Starting a blog isn’t difficult these days, thanks to the plethora of free tools meant to help you design and launch your own site, but effectively marketing that blog is a totally different story. If you don’t know anything about online marketing and you try to learn some strategies, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed at the volume of information that’s available. There are hundreds of different marketing strategies available, some of which are complex and expensive, and on top of that, you’ll sometimes encounter contradictory information.
Where are you supposed to start if you’re a total newcomer?
Learn the Basic Principles of Marketing
Before you go down a rabbit hole learning about the nuanced and time-intensive strategies available to online marketers, take a step back and learn about absolute fundamentals in marketing. For example, classic marketing approaches tend to prioritize the “four Ps”:
- Product: the thing you’re selling. If you’re a blogger, this could simply mean your blog, or it could mean pieces of merchandise, a piece of premium content, or something else.
- Place: where you’re going to sell your product and/or find people. Your blog is going to be a central location for your strategy, but how are you going to bring people to that site?
- Promotion: the channels you’re going to use to build awareness of your blog and attract traffic. This is often the heart of online marketing since there are so many strategies available.
- Price: the amount of money you’re going to charge for your product.
Additionally, you can learn about various principles of persuasion. For example, you probably know that people are more likely to buy a product if it’s advertised as being sold at a discount—even if the price doesn’t change. In other words, a $20 product that’s marked down from $40 will sell better than a flat $20 product.
Understand Your End Goals (and Establish a Funnel)
Next, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about your end goals, so you can work backward and build a sales funnel. What actions do you want your customers to take? Should they sign up for your newsletter? Should they purchase a copy of your book? Some final action will mark the end of your customer’s journey, and this will serve as your ultimate goal.
From there, you can work backward to establish a framework for your sales funnel. Initially, people will need to discover that your brand exists; this is considered the “awareness” phase, and you’ll need to develop strategies to make more people aware of your brand here. After becoming aware that your brand exists, what will your customers do next?
Explore Common Online Marketing Tactics
Once you have a solid idea of your goals and the marketing fundamentals that will guide your strategy to success, you can start looking at some of the most common online marketing tactics available, including:
- Content marketing, which you’re likely already practicing just by writing your blog.
- SEO, or search engine optimization, which relies on a combination of technical changes, onsite content development, and offsite link building to increase your visibility in search engines.
- Social media marketing, which relies on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to distribute content, engage with followers, and gradually build an audience.
- Email marketing, which allows you to keep your brand top-of-mind with existing fans—and possibly reach new people with your content.
- Paid advertising, which requires a monetary investment, but can practically guarantee new traffic to your website.
- Video marketing, which gives you another channel for developing and distributing content.
In addition to these, you’ll need to use conversion optimization strategies to capture more leads and earn more sales once people reach your site.
Experiment and Improve
You can read blogs, watch videos, and listen to podcasts that teach you all about the aforementioned online marketing strategies and others, but in most cases, the best way to learn is by doing. Try some of these strategies yourself, and experiment with different approaches. Try out new channels, new designs, new headlines, and new target audiences; which of these strategies works better for attracting an audience?
Over time, you’ll get a better feel for your target customers, the niche your blog occupies, and the types of tactics that work. You’ll also get better at learning to interpret key performance indicators (KPIs), and evaluating your performance, so you can use data to inspire future campaigns.
Start slow and remain flexible if you want to find online marketing success. There’s no reason to exhaust your budget prematurely, and you shouldn’t fixate on any one strategy or approach. Instead, start with the basics, tinker with a few low-cost strategies, and keep adjusting your approach until you find a combination that works.