This post was originally published 6 years ago. During the past 6 years the blogging world has changed drastically, and as a result, the content of this post was horribly outdated and no longer relevant. We’ve totally scrapped the original post and re-wrote it to provide insight that can be applied by today’s bloggers.
With millions of blogs out there, getting noticed can be quite a challenge for the new blogger. Simply posting content won’t lead to visitors. When you’re trying to establish your blog you’ll need to work on some promotion to help kick start your blog’s growth. In this article we’ll focus on free options and we’ll look at 99 ways to promote your blog for free. Since most of our readers are designers, some of the points are specifically applicable to design blogs, but the majority of the content is relevant to blogs in any industry or niche.
Photo by Kailash Gyawali
One of the most popular and common ways to get free exposure for your blog is by writing posts to be published at other blogs.
1. Write for other blogs in your niche/industry
A great way to get exposure to your target audience is to submit guest posts to other blogs in your industry or niche. Typically your guest posts will include a brief author bio at the end that will include a link to your own blog. This is one of the best ways to build name recognition and prove your expertise.
2. Exchange guest posts with other blogs in your industry/niche
While writing posts for other blogs is a great option for promotion, you’ll also need some content for your own blog. You can arrange with another blogger in your niche to exchange guests posts. Each of you will write a post that will be published at the other’s blog. You’ll both get quality blog content and you’ll both get some added exposure. Do this with a few different bloggers and you will be able to build several new links and reach a large number of readers.
3. Create a series with other bloggers
If you want to get creative you could coordinate with a few other bloggers in your niche to create a series. You can all write posts on related topics and interlink the posts to each other. Your posts can be published at your own blogs, or you can exchange them and publish the post at each other’s blogs.
4. Find guest posting opportunities with PostJoint
PostJoint is a site where you can find blogs who are looking for content. You create an account and submit your article and bloggers will have the opportunity to invite you to publish at their blog. PostJoint includes both free and sponsored content.
5. Find guest posting opportunities with MyBlogGuest
MyBlogGuest is another site that exists to help you find a home for your guest posts. Bloggers who are looking for free content can sign up, making it easier for you to find a place to publish your guest posts.
6. Find guest posting opportunities with GuestBlogIt
GuestBlogIt is a similar site where writers and publishers can sign up and collaborate. You can sign up for a free account and there is also an option to pay for a premium account with some added features.
7. Link to a free resource from your author bio
When your guest posts are published at other blogs the author bio will be key to how much you get out of your efforts. One of the best ways to get the most impact is to offer a free resource and link to it from your author bio. Rather than just placing a link and asking readers to visit your site, offer something of value (like an e-book) for free and you’ll likely get a much better response.
8. Use a call to action in your author bio
In your author bio you want to lead visitors in a certain direction by including a call to action. Use the call to action to get them to visit your site for the free resource.
9. Use your best articles as guest posts
When you’re just getting started with promoting your blog you should consider using your best posts at other blogs. Although your blog will of course need great content, by using your best posts at other blogs you’ll make more of an impression on those readers and you should pick up more new followers this way. As your blog grows your emphasis will shift and you’ll want to use your best posts on your own blog.
10. Write an article for your local newspaper
Writing for other blogs and websites isn’t the only option. You can also market your blog and yourself by writing an article for your local newspaper. Some articles may include a brief author bio, in which you could list your blog’s URL.
11. Write an article for an industry magazine
Likewise, you could also write an article for a magazine that would reach your target audience.
The content of your blog is also critical to your promotional efforts. A blog with great content is easy to promote, while a blog with poor content is difficult to promote no matter what approach you take.
12. Answer common questions from readers
When you’re deciding what topics to cover with upcoming blog posts, think about your readers and what problems they are facing and what questions they have. This is a great way to ensure that you publish content that is genuinely helpful to your readers.
13. Interview bloggers and others in the industry
Another type of post that can be very helpful to readers is an interview of another blogger or someone noteworthy within your industry or niche. One of the reasons that this can be helpful for promoting your blog is that in many cases the person being interviewed will share a link to the interview from their social media profiles, or maybe even link to it from their own blog.
14. Take a controversial stand
One approach for gaining exposure and getting noticed is to use controversy. Just covering certain topics can create controversy, or maybe you’ll take a particular stand on a debated issue. Of course, you’ll want to be able to back up your view. Controversial posts are often linked to and shared via social media.
15. Publish posts in a series
You can publish a series of a few different posts on the same topic to encourage repeat visitors. This will also allow you to cover the particular topic in great depth and detail, which can be helpful for building authority and establishing your expertise. You can also publish posts in a recurring series, such as posts on a specific topic to be publish on a certain day of the week.
16. Write helpful tutorials
Step-by-step tutorials can be extremely helpful for people who are looking to learn something specific. This is a great option for bloggers in the design/development industry, and there are countless things that you can teach through tutorials. These types of posts tend to attract links, and it is another effective way to demonstrate your expertise.
17. Create list posts
Love ’em or hate ’em, list posts can be effective for getting exposure. Readers can scan list posts very quickly, they tend to be shared a lot via social media, and a good quality list post can be very helpful and informative. The challenge is to create a list post that is original, since there are so many of them out there already.
18. Improve your blog post titles
One of the best ways to encourage readers to share your posts is to use engaging and interesting titles and headlines. With so many articles being published each day, most people will read headlines and skip over those that don’t grab their attention. If you’re effective at writing titles you can get more eyeballs on your post content and people will be more likely to share it via social media. See How to Write Magnetic Headlines from Copyblogger.
19. Write in short paragraphs
Make your blog posts easy to read and scan by using short paragraphs. Most readers will prefer to scan or skim your content, and short paragraphs make this much easier.
20. Use sub-headers
Sub-headers also help to make your posts easy to read.
21. Offer email subscription in addition to RSS
If you’re a FeedBurner user you can offer your visitors to option to subscribe to your blog via email instead of RSS. Many people prefer email, so make sure you offer it. If you’re concerned about FeedBurner possibly shutting down, another option is FeedBlitz. FeedBlitz isn’t free, but it is reasonably priced.
22. Post consistently
Don’t go months between blog posts. There is no specific frequency with which you should post, but in most cases you’ll want to publish at least once per week to build an audience and maintain momentum.
23. Update old content when appropriate
In addition to adding new content to your blog, consider updating important posts that have become outdated.
I’ve never known a successful blogger who wasn’t well connected. Your network will have a big influence on your success as a blogger, so building your network should be a priority.
24. Respond to comments on your blog posts
When you’re trying to build your blog’s exposure comments are often hard to come by. You can show readers that you appreciate their comments and encourage more interaction by responding to all comments that you receive.
25. Reach out to other bloggers in your industry/niche
Make a proactive effort to get to know some other bloggers in your niche. Don’t be afraid to fill out a contact form or send an email just to introduce yourself. In the early days of this blog I made an effort to reach out to others with new design blogs, and some of those people are still in my network 5 or 6 years later.
26. Focus on quality of contacts rather than quantity
You don’t need to be connecedt to every blogger in your niche or have hundreds of people in your network. Focus on building solid connections with severl key people rather than trying to have one-time contact with a lot of different people.
27. Connect with other bloggers who are at the same stage
One common mistake by bloggers when it comes to networking is to only attempt to network with the most popular and established bloggers in the industry. The problem with that is these people are probably extremely busy. If you’re in the early stages of building your blog make an effort to get to know some others who are just starting out. People at a similar stage of blogging will generally be more responsive to you, and you’ll be able to help each other as you both grow your blogs.
28. Look for ways to help others
When it comes to networking the last things you want to do is forget that it is a two way street. If you only look for ways to benefit yourself, your networking efforts will not be very successful. Look for ways to help others and you’ll find that your network efforts pay off much more. You’ll develop better relationships, more of them, and people will be more interested in helping you when the opportunity arises.
29. Participate in interviews for other blogs
Being interviewed by other bloggers is a great way to get to know them, so when you are approached to do an interview accept the request if at all possible.
30. Promote other bloggers’ posts with your social media profiles
Make an effort to share links to other people’s posts via social media. Everyone loves traffic, so other bloggers will really appreciate this. Also, some of them will reciprocate by sharing links to your content.
Email marketing is one of the best promotional opportunities available. With an establish list you’ll be able to stay in close contact with your subscribers and you’ll be able to get much more repeat traffic than you could get otherwise.
31. Start an email newsletter with MailChimp
In addition to offering your blog updates by email, I’d encourage you to also offer readers to option to sign up for a newsletter or mailing list. You can use this list without having to post to your blog, so it gives you added flexibility. Since we’re focusing on free options in this post, MailChimp offers a free plan for lists under 2,000 subscribers. If you’re willing to spend a small amount of money, I personally recommend Aweber, although I have used MailChimp as well.
32. Place a sign up form in a prominent location
Place your opt-in form somewhere where visitors are sure to see it. Common locations include the end of blog posts, the top of the sidebar, in a notification bar, or even in a popup.
33. Use a free resource as a bonus for subscribers
You can encourage visitors to subscribe by offering something of value as a free bonus if they sign up. Things like e-books, special reports, and other downloads are commonly used for this purpose. With a quality freebie you’re likely to get exponentially more subscribers than you could get without it.
34. Email your list regularly
Once people sign up to your list they should hear from you on a regular basis. Your newsletter will be most effective if you develop the trust of your subscribers, and you’ll need to stay in contact in order to accomplish this.
35. Share links to your best posts
You can use your newsletter list to share links to your best posts and increase the reach of these posts.
36. Don’t overwhelm subscribers with too many emails
Most subscribers won’t want to be bombarded with emails. The ideal frequency will vary from list to list, but most subscribers won’t want to receive an email every day.
Social media for blog promotion has changed over the years, but there are still plenty of opportunities to reach a new audience and quickly grow your blog with the help of social media.’
37. Start a sharing network with some blogging friends
If you know some other bloggers in your niche that are also trying to grow their blogs, consider an arrangement where you can help each other by sharing links to each other’s posts via your social media profiles.
38. Use social media for more than just sharing your own links
Because social media can be so effective for building traffic many bloggers use it just for this purpose. In order to have a real impact with social media you’ll need to get involved with the community of users. Most users don’t appreciate other users who only participate in order to promote their own content.
39. Submit links to Design Newz
For design blogs, Design Newz is a great place to submit your links and get a little bit of exposure.
40. Submit links to Design Float
Design Float was the first social voting site to specifically target the web/graphic design niche, and it is still a useful site for design bloggers.
41. Submit links to The Web Blend
The Web Blend is another social voting site that targets the design niche. It seems to currently be the most active social voting site in the design niche.
42. Submit links to Design Bump
Design Bump is also a social voting site where you can post links to your articles.
43. Submit links to DZone
DZone is a large and very active site for content related to web and software development.
44. Share links at Twitter
After you publish each post take a moment and share the link via your Twitter profile. You can also share links to older posts from your archives when you want to get a little bit of attention for posts that have been buried in the archives.
45. Communicate with other bloggers via Twitter
Use Twitter as a networking tool to get in touch with other bloggers in your niche.
46. Share links at Facebook
Just like you should be sharing links to your posts on Twitter, also share them on Facebook. I would recommend setting up a Facebook page for your blog rather than just relying on your personal profile.
47. Comment at the Facebook page of other blogs
You can also network by getting involved on the Facebook pages of other blogs in your niche.
48. Share links at Google+
Google+ is also a useful place to share your links. Establishing a presence here and getting more +1’s on your posts can also have an impact on your search engine rankings.
49. Run a Google+ hangout
Communicate with readers and/or other bloggers by taking advantage of the Google+ hangouts feature.
50. Share pins at Pinterest
Include images in your blog posts and pin them via your Pinterest profile.
51. Create pinnable images for your posts
Create images for your posts that will attract pins from more readers. See 5 Ways to Create Highly Shareable Pinterest Pictures for Your Business.
52. Participate in LinkedIn groups
LinkedIn offers users the opportunity to join groups, which is a great way to network with others in your industry.
53. Share links at Reddit
Reddit has been around for years, and it’s still a popular social media site where you can share your links.
54. Create a Gravatar account
By creating an account and uploading an image to use as a Gravatar you will have your custom avatar shown at many blogs and social sites when you leave a comment.
55. Participate at Inbound.org
If you cover topics related to internet marketing and SEO, Inbound.org is a great site where you can get involved.
56. Share links at Blog Engage
Blog Engage is a smaller social media site where you can share links to your posts.
57. Share links at Blokube
Blokube is a small social media site that focuses on topics like marketing and design.
58. Ask readers to share your posts
You may want to consider adding some social sharing icons at the end of your posts so readers can easily share a link to the post. Many bloggers include text that asks readers to share the post, which obviously encourages more shares.
59. Follow the social media profiles of other bloggers
Use social media to follow other bloggers in addition to using it for your own promotional purposes.
Creating and distributing free resources is a proven approach for attracting links and gaining exposure. Everybody loves to get something for free and when you offer something of real value you’re likely to get noticed. For those in the design industry there are all kinds of options.
60. Post free resources at your own blog
Use your design skills to create some free resources are release them from your own blog. If you’re not sure what to create, several possibilities are listed below.
Textures are highly useful for all types of graphic design, and with the help of a camera or scanner you can create your own textures to give away.
Web designers are always in need of quality icons. If you design and offer a nice set of icons for free it will be appreciated by visitors and other designers.
63. Photoshop brushes
Photoshop brushes, like textures, are very versatile and designers always love to have more brushes in their arsenal.
Vector graphics are another option that will be useful to others.
65. PSD files
You can offer any number of different types of Photoshop files. UI sets, web elements, and product mockups are very popular.
Create some interested wallpapers and make them available for anyone to download.
67. Website templates
For web designers, HTML templates are a great option. Quality templates will certainly be useful to your visitors.
68. WordPress themes
Just like HTML templates, WordPress themes are always needed by designers and you can get some great exposure by release a high-quality WordPress theme for free.
There are thousands of fonts already out there, but designers can’t get enough of them.
70. Business card templates
Use your design skills to create a template that others can customize and print for their own business cards.
71. Flyer templates
It could be a flyer for an event, a party, a corporate flyer, or any other type of flyer.
72. Brochure templates
Offer a free brochure template to help others market their business.
73. Resume templates
Both print and web-based resumes are an option here.
74. Offer free resources to be published at other blogs
Another option is to offer your freebie to another blog rather than releasing it at your own blog. This can be very effective for reaching a new audience, and in most cases you’ll be credited for the design and you’ll get a link back to your own blog.
75. Share free resources at your Facebook page
One approach to increase your Facebook fans is to offer free resources that can be downloaded by people who like your page.
76. Turn old blog posts into a free e-book
If you have a lot of posts in your blog archives, chances are you could compile some of them into an e-book. You could offer the e-book for free download and attract some links and exposure.
Sometimes the best way to get exposure for your blog is to create something that people will love and will want to share with others. This type of viral marketing can gain a ton of exposure when it’s effective.
77. Create an infographic
Infographics are really popular right now and good ones tend to be shared by many blogs and at social media sites.
78. Create a SlideShare presentation
Create a presentation that attracts attention at SlideShare and you could get thousands of views.
79. Create a “best of” post
One way to get others to share your content is to compliment them. You can create a post that showcase a number of the best of something and the people featured are likely to share the link. For example, if your blog is in the design industry you could create a post titled “20 Up and Coming Design Blogs to Watch”. Then create a badge or graphic and send it to those bloggers that were featured. If they post it on their site and link back to your post it could result in extra exposure for you.
80. YouTube or Vimeo video
Videos are also a great option for creating viral content, and they can be easily embedded and shared by other blogs.
81. Write an e-book
Popular free e-books are also often shared and linked to by many blogs and websites.
82. Offer a free course
Instead of an e-book, you could compile an online course either in text or video format and offer it for free. I quality course would be likely to be shared quite a bit.
Getting links is an important part of building your blog. Here is a look at some things you can do to encourage links to your blog.
83. Create amazing and unique content
Link building starts with creating very high quality content. Getting links is easy with the right content, and nearly impossible with bad content.
84. Comment on other blogs
Take a few minutes each day and leave some well thought out comments on other blogs in your industry or niche.
85. Link to your older posts
When you are writing a new post, take opportunities to link to your older posts within the content. Internal links from your own blog can help to increase page views and can also have an impact on search engine rankings.
86. Link out to other blogs
Also be willing to link out to other blogs in your posts. This is especially important when you’re just getting started with your blog because the pingbacks can help others to notice your blog. Also, some bloggers will look to reciprocate and link back to you.
87. Get your blog listed at Alltop
Alltop is a categorized blog directory. You can submit your blog for inclusion.
88. Submit your blog to web design and CSS galleries
If your blog has a quality custom design you can submit it to gallery sites. If it’s published you will get some decent links and exposure.
89. Participate in forums
Regardless of what niche or industry you blog in, there are probably several forums that would be an appropriate place for you to participate. You can include a link to your blog in your signature (check the rules of each forum), and when appropriate you may be able to link to you site within the body of your forum post.
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform, and there are tons of great plugins that can help you to get more exposure for your blog.
90. WordPress SEO
Yoast’s plugin allows you to optimize your site for search engines.
Another plugin with similar SEO options.
This plugin creates a Google-friendly XML sitemap that helps to get your content indexed by Google.
93. Digg Digg
You can add a floating bar with social voting buttons by using Digg Digg.
Shareaholic is another plugin that allows you to add social sharing buttons to your posts.
This plugin makes it easy for visitors to share images from your blog on Pinterest.
Show off your follower counts with this plugin.
97. Share This
Share This is another popular plugin for allowing visitors to share your posts.
98. Thank Me Later
This is an interesting plugin that allows you to send automated emails at a specific interval after a visitor leaves a comment.
99. Comment Redirect
When a visitor leaves their first comment you can use this plugin to redirect them to a page of your choice. It could be a thank you page or anything else that you choose.