Launching a website is the easy part. In order to build a business, would-be digital publishers need loyal readers who are passionate about the topics they cover.
Here at Web Publisher PRO, we work with first-time publishers all the time, designing custom business strategies and identifying new areas for growth. Whether a publisher’s revenue model involves digital advertising, subscriptions, memberships, e-commerce, or some combination of the above, having a healthy readership base is necessary for success.
Part of getting a new publication off the ground means finding readers. After all, thriving online businesses rely on them. Here are three of the best strategies we’ve come across for attracting readers to a new digital publication.
1. Start with your network.
You’ve got friends. Put them to use. Send an email blast to everyone in your contact list letting them know about the publication you’re launching. You may want to also invite them to a launch party for your publication. Family members, friends, friends-of-friends—they can all help spread the word.
Ask anyone who attends your launch party to post about it on social media. You can create a hashtag for people to use, as well. Trendsmap, RiteTag, and Hashtagify.me are three examples of services that help users come up with hashtag ideas.
If your website has a hyperlocal focus, then you should also get in touch with community associations, journalists, and other local influencers who might be interested in helping to spread the word to other people in town via printed flyers or social media.
Getting the word out through your personal network is more than just a good way to gain readers. It could also lead you to potential advertisers or other local business partners.
2. Get active on social media.
Twitter is often called an echo chamber. Without enough followers, it can sometimes feel like you’re tweeting into the ether. But there’s a strategy to using social media to attract readers to a digital publication, and it starts with finding a niche.
First off, don’t get too attached to any single network. Twitter is popular within the media community, but it’s not the only social media platform that consumers check on a regular basis. Make sure your publication has also accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+, and make sure you’re updating them on a regular basis.
Hyperlocal publishers with websites that focus on specific communities or areas have an advantage on social media, because people are usually eager to follow accounts that provide up-to-the-minute information about the places they live.
When you promote your articles on social media, make sure to include the handles of any prominent community members who are mentioned, along with any local businesses that might be interested in the news.
Hashtags are helpful here, too. Most small towns have a hashtag that locals use when posting community-specific content. (For example, the #ReddingCA hashtag in Redding, California.) Figure out what that hashtag is in the area you cover, and include it whenever possible. That will help other locals find your social media feed. From there, it’s your job to make sure your social media accounts are designed in a way that makes people want to click over to your website to read even more great content.
3. Don’t forget SEO.
Search engine optimization has gotten a bad reputation. Trying to squeeze irrelevant keywords into stories is an outdated practice, and it’s not what we’re after here.
Regardless of how well you’ve promoted your website in person and through social media, the vast majority of readers will still find you through a search engine like Google or Bing. SEO is just one of the ways we can make sure the right people are finding you through those platforms.
Use a tool like Google Keyword Planner or WordStream Keyword Generator to discover which keywords or tags are relevant to your site, then get into the habit of using those keywords on a regular basis. For a hyperlocal website, that means including the name of the city or the neighborhood whenever it fits into a story, as well as in titles, descriptions, image captions, and content file names.
The goal here is to bring the right types of readers to your publication. It’s not just a numbers game. We want loyal, local readers to visit your site because those are the people who will continue coming back for more. So make sure that the keywords you chose are directed at them.
For more information about the custom business strategies we develop for hyperlocal publishers, feel free to reach out. We love to connect with publishing entrepreneurs.