Promote Your Content Online

So you’ve just been published on Associated Content! Congratulations are in order, but the work isn’t over quite yet. While it’s exciting to know that your content is now live, how are people going to find it? Certainly, a discoverable topic will get some Google-driven page views from users who are searching for specific information, but that’s not the only way to generate traffic.

Promoting your content online is like caring for a garden. Even if you use good seeds, like a well-chosen topic and a deftly written article, those seeds won’t grow strong and tall unless you tend to them. To cultivate page views for your content (and reap higher bids in the future), you’ll need to promote your work. Ready to sow your seeds far and wide?

Here is an introduction to some of the tools you can use to promote your content. I have organized them into categories: 1) Discussion Boards, 2) Link Sharing Sites, 3) Email, 4) Blogs, and 5) Chat Rooms. While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a good introduction to promoting your work on the web.

Note: Within the Associated Content forums, you’ll find fellow Content Producers discussing how to make the most of these promotion tools. Look inside the “Market Your Content” topic for these ongoing conversations.

Discussion Boards, Message Boards, and Forums

Whatever they call themselves, the point behind these tools is clear: a community of people come together online to share information and have virtual conversations about a wide range of topics. There are discussion boards about practically everything: travel, television, politics, music, parenting, sports, interior decorating, news, crafts�.the list goes on and on. Chances are that, if you have content published on AC, there are appropriate message boards you can use to promote your links.

If you don’t already know which message boards are popular for a topic, do some Google searching, browse to find an active community, and then join. You’ll probably need to create a membership and verify it by email, so I’d even advise opening a free web-based email account to use exclusively for the purpose of joining forums and promoting content.

One challenge with discussion boards is that moderators are on the lookout for spam. If you’re a new member on a given website and you just start posting links all over the place, it may get misunderstood as spam and removed. However, if you establish yourself in the community, participate in discussions, and only share your links when they’re truly appropriate, you are less likely to be seen as spamming.

When you do join a forum and want to start posting AC links on the first day, you may want to introduce yourself, preface your URL with comments, or pose discussion questions so it is perceived as welcome. I sometimes acknowledge that I am a freelance writer and want to share a relevant article with the group. If you poke around discussion boards before posting, you may learn the site-specific etiquette and see what the attitudes of the “regulars” is like.

While you can’t guarantee that your links won’t sometimes get removed, the bulk of them should stay as long as you participate in the online community more actively. To help keep forum memberships and passwords organized, you may even want to keep a list or a spreadsheet.

Link Sharing Sites: Del.icio.us and Furl.net

There are a few websites out there specifically designed for users who want to manage their own set of links and share web content with each other. Del.icio.us and Furl.net are two examples.

Although the concept might seem foreign at first, think of it as public bookmarking. Instead of saving a link in your browser by adding it to your “Favorites,” you save it on this website and make it available for yourself AND for others. People who use Del.icio.us and Furl.net aren’t saving hum-drum links like Hotmail, CNN, or Ebay. They’re saving things that are more specific – things they think are “cool” or “interesting.”

And that’s where your AC content comes in. When you join Del.icio.us or Furl.net, you can then add links to your content. Users on those sites will see a description of your content and then decide whether they want to visit it or not. If you create and article or a video that really catches on, then other people may save it in their own list of links, which creates even more access points for your work.

These link sharing websites do see heavy volume, so it’s tricky to differentiate your content from everything else that’s available. However, if you’ve written something truly original or useful and you pick the right tag words to describe it, you’ll generate page views.

Both Del.icio.us and Furl.net are easy to use once you understand the concept. In fact, it typically takes me under a minute to add a link on both sites now that I’ve mastered them. Like other web tools, the best way to maximize the usefulness of link-sharing sites is to read their help sections and try posting hands-on.

Email and Buddies

AC makes it easy to add buddies who will receive an automated email every time your work is published on the site. This is a useful tool for friends and family members who are interested enough to look at all of your content without special prompting, but it’s not the only way to employ email for promoting content.

You can also hand-pick personal contacts who might be especially interested in a particular topic. For example, I wrote an article on winter sports in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Knowing that an old roommate of mine is an active snowboarder and has friends who board and ski, I sent him a quick email with the link to my article, asking him to forward it on to his friends. It’s possible that some of those people forwarded the link on in turn, resulting in a ripple effect.

Blogs and Websites

First off, if you have your own blog or website, that’s an ideal place to post AC links. By making your content producer URL prominent, you can ensure that your complete AC portfolio, with abstracts, is readily accessible. You can also post links to individual articles as they’re published. Do whatever makes sense for the type of blog or website you maintain. In general, it also helps to preface links with a description of what they are – otherwise people are less likely to click on them!

An RSS feed of AC content also makes a eye-catching, revolving addition to a website or blog. RSS is a type of web syndication that allows for information to be “fed” from one source (in this case, AC) to another site. Even if you don’t recognize the term RSS, you are probably familiar with what it looks like on a site. Whenever you are on one website but see news headlines from another, you’re likely looking at an RSS feed. Visit the RSS tab on the AC site for more details. You can feed your own content exclusively, or you can include work from all content producers, organized by topic or recent publication.

In addition to promoting your work on your own blog or website, consider adding your links to other websites when appropriate. For instance, if you visit “John Q. Smith’s Political Blog” and you have an article on AC germane to the discussion, email the blogger directly or post a comment (when comments are allowed).Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

A personal example:Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ I found a several blogs about burritos, fast food, and Chipotle – Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½and I usedÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½them to promote my article “Qdoba versus Chiptole,” a piece that has gottenÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½thousands of page views after only a few months.

Chat Rooms and Personal Profiles

Do you spend time in chat rooms? Most chat programs allow you to add a bio line, signature, or some other personalized space – ideal for linking to your Content Producer page. You can even leave a chat window open in the background while you do other things, using it as passive advertising. Of course, you can always go the more direct route and ask people in main rooms or private chats to visit your content.

In order to avoid being perceived as spam, it helps if you’re already an active member of the chat community. I would advise against randomly messaging people with your links. Start a conversation first, and then promote your content when it seems appropriate.

If you don’t use chat rooms but you do belong to a personals website, a matchmaking service, or anything that lets you create a profile for people to peruse, then post your Content Producer URL there. Not only will it drive traffic to your work, but it shows off your interests and talents!

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