This post is a summary of the most powerful tactics in blogging history.
Over the years I’ve seen some pretty cool blogging strategies. Some of them I’ve tested out myself, others have been tactics I’ve seen my friends successfully implement.
My goal with this post is not to completely detail the ins and outs of every method, but to give you a taster which will hopefully spark some original ideas of your own.
Ultimately I’d love to hear back from someone who reads this post and puts something into action on their own blog.
The most powerful tactics in blogging history
Let’s start with a disclaimer.
Every blog is different. Every blogger has different capabilities, resources and finances.
What this means is that you need to assess whether each strategy is right for you and your blog before you implement it. Be smart and think about the long-term game.
1. A free giveaway to attract email subscribers
This is one of the oldest and the most successful blogging tactics.
The idea is simple. You create a great eBook (which is just a PDF file, really) and then give it away on your blog in exchange for the person’s email address.
If your eBook is highly useful you will find that you get a lot of longterm fans from this method because their initial contact with your brand is one of massive free value. Yaro was someone who did this really early on with his Blueprints and has built a brilliant brand around these ideas.
Here’s a video I made a few years ago about how to automatically give away a free eBook on your blog (check out the awesome spelling error!):
The interesting thing about this is that it has had almost 20,000 views. That, to me, means that a lot of people are interested in this method and that after all these years the tactic is still working strong for bloggers.
2. An email course that pre-sells a product or service
Another strategy that I have seen again and agin (and even used myself) is the one where you sign up for a mailing list in order to get a free email course which then leads you to a final paid product.
There are a few things to note about this method:
- It has to be hugely useful
Unless you provide a lot of value at the beginning with the free part you might find that people really don’t respond to having something sold to them at the end.
- You have to be trustworthy
This doesn’t work if you don’t have some perceived trust with your audience. It’s very good to start this method off with some statement about the successes that you’ve had.
- It works forever
Set it up correctly and with an evergreen idea and you will find that you can send traffic to this type of thing forever. That’s a good model.
Just take a look at how Copyblogger have been doing this with their Rainmaker platform to see how it’s done best. Honestly, I really hate these guys. 😉
3. Guest posting as a method for longterm traffic
This has been a really big part of my career as “the Blog Tyrant”.
Before I had a face and name attached to this website I blogged anonymously all over the web doing guest posts that I tried to make as massive and valuable as possible. The idea was to show a lot of promise and really make people wonder who this “Tyrant” guy was.
In the end it worked well because it got me talking to Glen from ViperChill and we joined forces to do my unmasking over on ViperChill which was the first guest post that he had ever done. To this day I’m the only other writer to feature on ViperChill and the unmasking post remains the 4th most popular post in ViperChill history.
I don’t say all of this to make myself seem special but rather to illustrate how powerful guest posts can be. In fact, they made my career. They started it and they sustained it.
All these people who are talking about guest posting being dead are kidding themselves. It might be a little more dangerous from an SEO point of view now but they still grow brands and traffic – if you do them correctly.
4. Pre-launching an entire blog with a sales video and opt-in form
Jon Morrow is one of the best bloggers we’ve ever seen.
He’s also an incredibly smart business man.
After he finished at Copyblogger he set up a domain name with just a single video and an opt-in form on it. Before Boost Blog Traffic even launched he got thousands and thousands of subscribers off the back of just creating some interest.
In the post above Jon explained how he did it (and for less than $50…). It’s simply about creating a teaser that really gets people interested. Do that well and you’ll get people signing up in anticipation of something – you don’t actually even need to provide value yet.
I tried to find his video somewhere online but can’t seem to locate it. If anyone knows where a copy might be hidden please let me know and I’ll post it up for everyone.
5. Mentioning famous bloggers in guest posts
Doing a guest post is great.
Doing a guest post where you mention a bunch of relevant influencers is really, really great.
Because it is a huge show of respect, loyalty and trust. You’re not just mentioning that person on your own website or blog, you’re mentioning it when you’re up on the big stage and have an opportunity to get your own voice and message out there.
The best example of someone who does this perfectly all the time is my friend Kristi Hines. In 2013 she put me at the top of the blogging section in a post called The Top 75 Must-Read Online Marketing Blogs. This post has brought me thousands and thousands of visitors since that mention.
Needless to say, I’ll do anything for Kristi.
I couldn’t end this point, however, without mentioning Danny Inny who launched onto the scene by writing a book that included contributions from a lot of massive bloggers and marketers (and me…).
Engagement from Scratch was a huge hit for Danny and allowed him to open up a lot of friendships and business opportunities with the authors that he included and promoted heavily in that book.
6. Writing a series of posts to build interest in a future product launch
I always say that you should never blog blindly.
What this means is that you don’t want to just write random posts for the sake of getting traffic. Lots of traffic isn’t always a good thing.
Rather, you want to be writing posts that form part of an overall strategy. A good strategy will have an end-goal in mind and every time you post you are adding to that strategy – leading people towards the next step in the process.
And no one does this like Glen.
Right around the time Glen and Diggy launched their SEO product (which was insanely successful) Glen started focusing ViperChill content on all the different problems that were going on with Google. One post even got 340 comments and outed one of the most respected guys in SEO.
The result was that a lot of people became very interested in the solutions that Glen was offering.
Now, this might seem like a sleazy tactic but, like any tactic, it can be made sleazy if the end offering and the method is dishonest. Glen, however, was/is offering a brilliant product that helped a lot of people. And he was transparent with the whole process. In his promotional emails he even outlines exactly what he’s selling and tells you that if you’re not interested he’ll be back to the normal free schedule next week.
That’s the way to do it.
7. Causing a controversy regarding something that everyone accepts
Controversy is something that I don’t really enjoy creating.
However, I have been known to use a few controversial titles in my time with the intention of getting a reader’s attention and drawing them deeper into an article that is actually somewhat helpful.
That being said, some people have used controversy extremely well in varying ways.
- Controversial titles and headlines
Two of the most controversial titles I’ve used are Why I Hate Copyblogger and Why Blogging is a Waste of Time. Both worked well in the end.
- Controversial articles
Sometimes when you challenge something you create a name for yourself. Just check out how many comments and shares this article about why you’d never want to live in America has received.
- Controversial new directions
Copyblogger has already had a mention in this post but they do a lot of good things so they’re getting another one. This year they’ve deleted both their blog comments and their Facebook page. This lead to a lot of controversial coverage around the web but, in the end, you know there is an interesting reason behind it.
In the end, a controversial post or headline will only get you momentary attention. You need to back it up with something of value and never, ever deceive anyone.
8. Buying blog posts, reviews and entire websites
As you might know, I’ve sold a few blogs in my time.
And what that means is that there are people out there who will buy websites for big money in order to acquire an asset that is already earning, stable and positioned in a niche that they want to target.
Remember this little guy? A banking blog that sold for $15 million to one owner.
Although it’s not advisable these days (don’t do it!) the business of buying and selling links, blog posts and paid reviews used to be massive. A lot of people made a huge amount of money off of it. If you weren’t around in 2009 you might want check out this article about how John Chow got let back into Google after being totally banned.
It’s quite interesting.
9. Getting endorsements from big names
If you have a look at any good landing page or sales page you will see endorsements from other big names in that niche.
It’s so important.
Just take a look at the landing page for Chris Ducker’s book. There are dozens and dozens of recommendations from some of the biggest names in online marketing and business.
Now, this is nothing new.
People have been getting endorsed by other people since the beginning of time.
But now it’s so important to use it in your sales pages and even sign up forms. By having other trusted people pictured and praising you on your website you can massively grow your own trust levels.
Incorporating it in a beautiful way (like these guys) is now a big part of sales page design.
I honestly feel that this tactic alone has made a lot of people money where they otherwise might have stumbled.
10. Using PPC to drive traffic to a landing page
When Google Adsense first came along and started getting big it was so easy to send traffic to a dodgy landing page. The quality of the content really wasn’t check and it made people a lot of money.
These days it’s not so easy.
But if you’ve got a quality product and offering you can use paid advertising to drive interested traffic to a landing page and grow your sales or subscribers. That’s exactly what Marina did and it got her nearly 20,000 subscribers in a few weeks.
Marina had a very professional offering and a beautifully designed process page so it all worked out very well for her. It’s important to look at how the successful people have done it before going and spending heaps of your own money on PPC campaigns.
11. Split testing the whole blog
I’ve written about split testing a few times now.
It really is so vital for a blog’s success because you start to get realistic data about whether your assumptions are correct.
For example, a simple split test about an opt-in form or landing page’s design could see you get an extra 10% sign ups for no reason other than a design change. That is really important to do so that all your hours writing content and designing products are not wasted.
12. Gaming Google with back links
One of the biggest strategic events in tactical blogging history was when bloggers figured out they could rank higher in Google by manipulating their back link profile.
Essentially it worked (or works, depending on who you ask…) like this:
- Write a blog post around a keyword
Get going with some keyword research and then pick a long tail and short tail set that you are going to be targeting. Write a nice post with that keyword in the title and link structure.
- Build links to it
You then build links back to that post by clean methods like outreach and promotion (and hoping they link to you somehow) and then less clean methods like buying links and now guest posting. The anchor text would be directly the phrase you want to rank for.
- Make it look natural
Then the major part of building these back links was to make it look natural by varying the anchor text, getting links from a wide variety of sources, platforms, etc. This helped to avoid a manual penalty from Google.
To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t do any of this stuff here on Blog Tyrant. I link back to my articles in guest posts but it’s always in the context of giving more helpful resources for readers.
That being said, some people are still killing it with this method.
But for me it’s not worth the risk.
13. Completely outsourcing everything
Initially blogs were almost like an online diary.
It was a very personal and kind of informal thing – just you and the writing.
But somewhere along the line people realized that they made money and then it all started to change. And a lot of people did very well by switching it from a personal endeavour to a collaborative one, or one where the main blogger hired a lot of others.
The great thing about this tactic is that it allows you to be more prolific. Whereas a single author might only manage a couple of posts a week, with a team of authors you can essentially post as many articles as you can afford to make.
14. Be a woman
Unfortunately, as this story illustrates, in many instances being a woman can make your career path harder for no reason other than sexism.
But one man woman actually made this whole thing work for her. She’s a bit of a hero of mine (and a bloody horrible editor to work with) so I really wanted to mention this brilliant event in blogging history.
Come and have a read of why James Chartrand wears women’s underpants.
It was one of the funnest things ever.
NOTE: This was really before Facebook and Twitter were big so that post doesn’t have a lot of shares. I can assure you it was a huge deal though.
15. Pop ups, sliders and other welcome messages
I’ve lumped all of these together because they are basically all about the same thing: interruption.
If you can use a plugin or a graphical interface to get someone’s attention and direct them to a landing page or offer you are going to do very well. In fact, my whole blogging strategy is based around this.
Some of the best options include:
- Pop ups
A pop up can be in a lightbox, pop under or pop over. They are extremely effective and despite what people think, no one really cares about them. You can do it with AWeber or Pop Up Domination.
I have a slider on Blog Tyrant that activates when a new readers reaches 30% the way down the page. This then directs people to an opt-in form landing page and converts extremely well. Check out my podcast for more details on this.
- Notices and bars
I also use a free version on HelloBar here on Blog Tyrant which cycles through and tests various different ideas. I can measure stats like CTR and other conversions which is really handy.
Remember, these pop ups and so on should be interrupting but never invasive or tricky. You want them to get attention, not decrease trust.
16. Be absolutely bloody brilliant
I wanted to end this post by talking about the one blogging tactic that I really believe in.
More specifically, finding different ways to provide value to people who are looking for solutions to problems.
Successful blogs solve problems in unique ways. That’s it. – Tweet this quote.
This doesn’t necessarily mean writing long form content or being brilliant at video production. But it might. The real fun part is testing ideas and coming up with new ways to be distinctive.
A final word on blogging tactics
I want to end this post by reminding you that a lot of these blogging tactics are out of date. They worked once but now might be a little bit risky or not so effective. The idea behind this post was to give you some things to think about and maybe come up with some new tactics of your own.
I’d really love to hear about any other blogging tactics that you think are super powerful. Please leave me a comment below and give this post a share if you enjoyed it!