Use offline techniques to bring new readers to your Web site
ONLINE COLUMN: Web Savvy
Published: June 2, 2009
Weblogs and Web sites have come full circle, and as a result, independent sites have a long row to hoe when it comes to being harvested as in top search results. If you put keywords of the day into a search engine, the top-ranked results will usually go to large media outlets. Print publications learned quickly the power of the blog. So how does the indie blogger or up-and-coming writer bring new readers directly to his or her site?
The Avery Web site has many ideas for inexpensive marketing.
We've covered a number of online methods, but some offline techniques can help bump those unique visitor counts, and some techniques are very budget-friendly.
Start by using a business card as a mini-flyer. You can grab these low cost cards from a number of online merchants who offer simple templates or an option for customization. You can also print your own. I purchased an Avery kit from the office supply store; the cards are sheet-fed into the printer and they're already perforated. That way you can separate them easily and they'll look professional. It's trickier to cut the cards with a paper cutter unless you're precise enough to be sure the sizes will be uniform. The text on my card lists the name of my site, my own name, my email and contact number, and a catchy slogan. I also have cards like this for my most recent books. I included my business number and my business email—potential readers don't need personal information.
The cards are perfect for placing on your table at a book—signing or for handing out at a networking event. I've even tucked cards into my outgoing mail-in envelopes with a payment or correspondence. When I leave a server a nice tip in the bill jacket, or return a book to the library, a card is neatly tucked inside.
Print publications also offer a good option for getting your brand in the public eye. Look to the classifieds. I recently bought space in a specialty publication with 60,000 affluent readers for $70 per issue. Using bold letters in all caps for the first few words, or for the website URL, will help call attention to your ad. Look for publications that have small classified sections; your ad may be buried if there are pages and pages of classifieds.
You may also find opportunities for retail display ads that aren't too expensive-in dinner programs for professional organizations, on paper menus used by mom-and-pop businesses, in publications issued by public schools if your content is appropriate. Most large circulation and smaller branded print publications, however, charge high rates for retail display ads if you're an indie blogger.
I know one entrepreneur who printed her Web site name on pencils, cups and t-shirts. There are many online companies (and offline) who provide such products, and you can often do a small quantity to test the waters. Café Press offers a variety of products that you can use for promotional purposes or even sell, and you can purchase in a quantity that fits a variety of budgets.
Think of your blog or website in the same manner you'd apply to selling anything-a book, a lawn mower, a car. The object is to connect your message to the recipient and encourage that recipient to behave in the manner that benefits your business, whether the object is to get someone to enter your URL and read your writing or whip out a checkbook and buy your product. It's useful to consider how many places you can politely put that message, and sometimes the ideas will surprise you. You can even have a specific message put in a fortune cookie; prices vary among online companies.
As competition for messaging increases, with more traditional media leaning towards the Web, offline branding can be a boon to increasing your traffic and growing your readership. The possibilities are limited only by the scope of your bravado.
[No compensation is derived from mention of specific products or Web sites.]
Past Web Savvy columns:
• Defining your brand, Part 1
• Defining your brand, Part 2
• Café Press
• Avery Products
Places we've been mentioned:
Impressions Through Media Blog, March 25, 2009
--Published June 2, 2009
Make your searches pack a punch—our next column brings you tips on how to avoid predictable searches for information in your articles, and how to find results guaranteed to set your content apart.
Kay B. Day
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International, The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.