If you enter “why isn’t blogging working” into Google, you’ll find plenty of articles telling you that you just aren’t doing the basics. “Write great content.” “Share it with your friends.” “Add value.” All true, but also vague and unhelpful. It’s more helpful to understand that most marketing funnels lack a distribution playbook. That’s the most common problem.
“Content is king, but distribution is queen—and she wears the pants.” – Jonathan Perelman, VP of Agency Strategy at BuzzFeed
Build it and They Will Come… Right?
Content quality and distribution go hand-in-hand for success. You can’t have one without the other. If you write a blog without distributing it, then few people read it. If you distribute content without putting your best foot forward, then you’ll hurt your brand instead of helping it. Both elements need to exist in your content marketing strategy in order to create a positive demand for your product and brand.
You can read up on how to write a good blog right here if you’d like a quick review, but you’re here to learn about next steps in this article. We’ll cover distribution channels like:
- Email marketing
- Guest posting
- Select social media tactics
Where Can I Distribute My Content?
Continuing with the example of blog promotion, there are a few ways to think about digital distribution. We can break these down into a few categories:
- Owned media: your website, on-page content, and collateral (think sales enablement).
- Earned media: guest posts, reviews, syndicated posts.
- Paid media: boosted social posts, press releases, and ads.
It pays off to figure out which kind of media you want in your content distribution strategy. Some methods are obvious and easy, while others require you go the extra mile. Only time and measurement will tell you which ones work best for you. Try new tactics, give everything its due time to shine, and you’ll have a functioning distribution playbook in relatively short order. Remember that content is king and distribution is queen: you need make sure your content is top-notch before promoting it or else distribution won’t work.
We’ll cover these distribution tactics here.
- Email campaigns (this should be your distribution bread-and-butter)
- Guest posting
- Reddit, Facebook groups and any relevant Slack groups where you participate.
- Social media posts if you have a half-decent following.
How do they work? So glad you asked!
There’s hardly a better way to get people reading your blog than plopping it right into their inboxes. It’s incredibly cost-effective compared to other forms of marketing, too. It’s pretty common to see open rates of 35% on email campaigns with good copy in the subject line.
Also remember this: people love the convenience of content coming to them instead of searching for it, but they’ll skip your message if you overwhelm them with 4+ blogs linked in your newsletter. Keep it to one call to action per email whenever possible.
Think about how often you’d like to send emails to your list. This will depend on how frequently you publish content and how often your prospects want to receive emails. You might have a CRM or email marketing platform that lets your subscribers decide how often they receive emails, and what they look like, but most people just send updated templates on a monthly, biweekly, or weekly basis.
When they say content is king but distribution is queen, this is part of what they mean. You can’t just force-feed content to your audience. Effective content distribution requires some finesse on top of consistency.
Guest posting is more of an SEO tactic, but it works beautifully for promoting standard content as well. It gives you exposure to new and related audiences while leveraging the credibility of the publication sharing your work.
The question isn’t what you should share; you should only try to arrange guest posts if there is a legitimate and mutual benefit to the publisher and you. The real question is this: what’s useful to the other audience? Imagine this like a Venn diagram; one circle represents your expertise and the other circle represents the interests of the other website’s audience. Think of what the two brands have in common.
For example, if I worked for an insurance company, I’d consider these topics for certain types of content partner:
- Car sites: traffic laws, car insurance facts, driving record “did you know” lists.
- Real estate sites: home insurance facts, understanding home insurance vs. “mortgage insurance,” and how renovations affect rates.
- Pet sites: What kind of pets carry higher insurance risks, which dog breeds insurers consider “risky,” and the difference between pet insurance and liability insurance for dog bites.
How do you find guest posting opportunities? There are a few methods:
- Find long-term content partnerships with affinity brands.
- Conduct a link building campaign (more complex).
- Find brands willing to cross-promote content on social channels.
From an SEO’s perspective, the backlinks you earn will be as valuable as the branding and exposure.
Similar to guest posting, syndication is just creating a carbon copy of your blog on alternate channels. This recently became a part of the white hat playbook with the rise of Facebook’s Instant Articles, LinkedIn’s self-publishing platform for all users, and Medium (although Medium no longer accepts syndicated content, unfortunately).
You won’t incur penalties as long as you provide a link to the original blog on your website with the proper authorial attribution. Ask the publisher to include a “canonical link” to your original post as well; it tells search engines which page is the original.
Post your blog on places like these.
- Your LinkedIn blog
- Slideshare (if you have graphics)
- Paid syndication (Taboola, Outbrain, RevContent)
- Big news publications
- Google My Business posts (expire in 1 week)
- Blog submission sites
- Industry News Publishers
You can also try syndicating with any content partners you’ve developed, if you have any. Most companies willing to engage in content partnerships will expect original content, but it’s worth asking.
Social Posts, Facebook Groups, and Reddit
Normally I’m not a fan of social media marketing, since social traffic accounts for 3%-8% of most websites’ traffic and doesn’t convert all that well. However you can make use of it with a handful of specific content distribution tactics.
Most websites will simply tell you to post about your content on your social channels. That’s fine, but it’s not particularly effective. An old Facebook algorithm change reduced companies’ organic reach down to 2%-20% per post, while traffic from Twitter and Instagram is just too ephemeral to have much of an effect on your traffic or conversion metrics.
What can you do with social media, then? Try these tactics:
- Find or create a Facebook group to share your content.
- Offer up your content a specific subreddit if it doesn’t violate the community rules.
- Repurpose your content into an infographic for Pinterest.
Social media is a pay-to-play game these days, which makes them advertising platforms more than anything else. Get what you can out of your social channels but don’t fall into the trap of throwing money at “boosting” your posts
Quick Note: Respect the Platform or Pay the Price
Throughout the distribution process you may become frustrated by the various rules and best practices for each channel. Don’t let yourself stay frustrated—just work through them systematically after you figure them out the first time. If they don’t work after a few honest attempts, then move on to the next tactic.
Failing to observe the rules could earn a suspension or a ban, at worst. Reddit is infamous for this, and every subreddit as its own unique “reddiquite” for posting. The moderators can be puritanical about those rules and some of them play favourites, so read the rules carefully or risk burning bridges (read: getting “shadow banned”). The same idea applies to every distribution channel, too. Don’t paste a Reddit post to Facebook and don’t try to shoe-horn a Facebook post into your email campaign. Tweak the message for every platform.
Content is King but Distribution is Queen: the Takeaway
It’s very much worth dedicating your time to finding the strategies that work for your brand and boiling them down to repeatable distribution processes. You will add a new tactic to your distribution playbook one by one, turning what used to be a one-and-done approach into a systematic process across multiple channels. It doesn’t come overnight, so don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t come together right away. Test out new ideas, work on the execution for them, and watch the results build up slowly over time.
That’s how you build build and maintain a steady stream of traffic to your website.