Any niche blog has a good chance of generating a fair amount of buzz. Because it is specified to a single category, it focuses the traffic it brings in and is able to reach a targeted audience much better than more general websites. One great example of this principle in action is the design blog, which is a highly relevant topic in today’s web-centric world.
Over the years a pattern has emerged from successful design blogs when it comes to subject, content and the process of running them. Through these patterns we can learn a lot about how to successfully market on a viral scale, especially with web sharing being a near-constant source of attention in a time when word of mouth has been adapted to provide an incredible source for marketing.
These are some of the best tips that can be learned from design blogs, which you can then take with you to begin your viral marketing campaign.
Free Tools and Products
Design blogs have discovered what companies have known for years: free gifts generate buzz and loyalty. But while corporations will send out keychains and provide discounted services to long-term customers, design blogs will create free tools for readers.
These could be templates for typography, open-source tools for software like Photoshop, or any other number of design tools. Not only does it give followers a reason to check back with you to find more freebies but they are likely to share them with friends and co-workers.
You will also see tutorials popping up that show how to use these freebies as well as lists of tools others can find on the web. This is how you can be a part of viral marketing in its most basic form: letting others promote your blog for you.
Networking as Priority
If you have ever worked for a blog, you know how pointless it is to try to compete with other websites. This idea was destructive for other media formats, where content is constantly changing to fit any current trend, and filler is making up 90 percent of what is offered.
Blogs run in a different way: through networking and helping each other out. This has been done to a greater degree in the design world, where networks of dozens of blogs have been strung together. A good example of this is The Smashing Network, through Smashing Magazine.
By using guest posts, providing opportunities for joint competitions and projects and being overall friendly and helpful with other blogs, you open up a lot of chances for viral marketing. Plus, you provide yourself with a platform of constant traffic sharing between those sites.
Use List Posts
I will never understand why so many blogs fail to use list posts. But design blogs use them all the time and to great effect. Whether it is the top 10 list of free tools for designers or a compilation of some of the best website layouts to come out in recent months, list posts work wonders.
You should try and use list posts at least a few times a week. Not only are they an easy way of generating content but they give readers exactly what they are looking for in a simple way. They can also be much more entertaining than unending blocks of text.
Learn to Use Content for Revenue
Design blogs are made for designers. Many of those are freelance or small-studio owners who do it for a living. That means not all content should be free. These blogs have started utilizing information for profit, such as through creating video series, books and even whole learning systems.
But the most popular method by far is through subscription areas for select members. For a small fee, users gain full access to the blog, including special tutorials and guides that they couldn’t otherwise see.
A lot of this is the re-presentation of past work. But that method works by giving it to the reader in a different way. It is a benefit to them because they might not have seen it otherwise, especially in a sea of loose content floating around your blog or other blogs.
Use Contents for User Participation
If you want to get people involved in your site, there is no faster way than offering a prize. Occasional challenges on design blogs are common, as they ask users to submit their own ideas for templates, layouts, graphics and typography. These contests are often a hot topic of social media sites, where people ask others to submit their work or to vote.
The best part is that you can utilize other elements you already have incorporated into your campaign. For example, you can run a contest to see who best uses the freebies you have provided users. Or run a joint contest with another blog to double the viral potential.
Design blogs have perhaps perfected the way that viral marketing is handled in today’s online world. Through their example, you can adapt such methods to your own niche, no matter what it is.
What are some tips you have gleaned from these blogs?
Jennifer Moline writes about freelancing, small business and design for the PsPrint Blog. Follow online printer PsPrint on Twitter and Facebook.