Thursday, August 18, 2011

5 Great Ways to Promote Your Products on Your Blog (and 2 really bad ways)

Blogs can be a valuable promotion tool if you are smart about how you promote. Sadly, many TpT seller blogs have become a running billboard of products they have posted, with no valuable content for readers (really bad promotion technique #1). If you want to increase your followers and page views, you absolutely must provide value and endless promotions of your products do not do this. In fact, they do the opposite, they annoy people and then they don't come back.

The second thing you want to be careful about is running too many contests and promotions that require participants to like or follow a long list of your various stores, sites, fan pages etc. You can do this every now and again, but constantly pandering for followers can be a real turn off. Further, many of these followers are not your targeted audience and may never actually return to your sites. Personally, I would rather have one follower who is actually interested in the topics my blog covers and teaches the grades I sell for, than ten followers who will never return again.  Also, you will probably find you have far fewer participants if you require them to blog about your contest. I know I am pretty careful about what ends up on Minds in Bloom, and while I am happy to link to another seller's product that fits in with a specific post, I am certainly not going to fill it up with blurbs about other seller's promotions (This would be really bad promotion technique #2)

So, how should you promote your products? What works? Here are some ways to promote that will not only bring people to your products and store, but will make them happy to be there!

Give Stuff Away
How does giving your stuff away help you? First, you want to make sure that you have an ad with links back to your TpT store (and possibly your facebook and blog) on everything you sell. Teachers who like the free product may very well come back to your store for more. Second, everyone loves freebies. If you give away a lot of freebies, people will WANT to follow you. There are several great ways to give stuff away:
  • Create a free product, post a link on your blog and write a short blurb about it. Try to go beyond, "I just posted this and it is really great." Tell teachers how it can be used and maybe give them some extension ideas.
  • Write a really great post - something with real depth or lots of ideas and then include a free product that relates to the concept that you wrote about. Here is one I did about Student of the Week for Minds in Bloom. 
  • Create a collections of freebies that can be accessed from a tab or sidebar at anytime.
  • Have a giveaway. For a limited time, give away a product that would normally not be free.
Use Your Sidebars and Tabs
Your sidebars are valuable real estate! Use them to advertise your store or products. Personally, I think this is better than filling your sidebars with google ads. You can make your own ads look appealing and in line with the style of your blog. And you are promoting a product you really believe in instead of goodness knows what from google. I get quite a few clicks on my sidebar ads for my products on Minds in Bloom. Also, as long as you don't totally overdo it, readers don't mind (and even kind of expect) ads in the sidebars.

Link within Your Posts
One way to promote a for-sale product is to write a post related to the product you are selling and then include a link to your relevant product within the post. For example, you could do a book review of a great book for literature circles and then include a link to your literature guide for that book in the post. Here is one I did (except the link is actually for another teacher's resource).

Pull out content from your product to make your post.
This works will with a product that has a long list of tips or suggestions. For example, if you have a post of 200 Journal prompts, you could choose 20 of them to include in a post. Then at the end, you can note that the 20 prompts came from a larger product with a link to that product. Here is one from Minds in Bloom.

Review Someone Else's Product
If another seller has a product you truly love, you could write a review of it on your blog with a link to that product. How does that help you? In addition to generating some good karma by helping a fellow seller, it is likely that seller will want to return the favor somehow...who knows what good things might come your way?

Have you ever tried these? Have more ideas to add? Please share!