Self-Promotion Ain't Easy: Spending Money to Market Yourself

5 years ago

How much do you market your blog? Do you pay to do it? Should you? When? Next week at BlogHer ‘12, Alli Worthingon, Sara W. Caron, Lyz Lenz (that’s me) and Paula Gregorowicz are hosting a panel called "When It's Time to Spend Money to Market Your Work.” We’ll focus on deciding when and how to invest in marketing yourself as a blogger, but we also wanted to know more about what you’re already doing, paid and unpaid – and why. So we put together a small survey. So far, we have received 52 responses: Bloggers told us about Facebook ads, guest posts, and everything in between. Here are the preliminary results, and what we’re learning. (Note: You can still take the survey, too!)

What are we Marketing?

When it comes to what bloggers want to market, it turns out they’re in it for the writing:

  • 64% reported that they are marketing themselves as writers
  • 71% are simply in it to market their blog
  • 27% of respondents were also selling consulting services or products and used their blogs as a means to market their wider services

What’s the point?

When asked about their goals of marketing 83% reported that they wanted to land more paying gigs, 71% wanted to increase traffic and 60% wanted to publish more of their writing. Traditionally, getting writing published was a matter of pitching essays and ideas to editors. These results seem to show a shift from writers in their approach to publication. Instead of going to the editors, writers want the editors to come to them. If you build a blog, they will come (or at least respondents hope they will).

Strategies and Approach

Other notable results from the survey revealed that when it comes to marketing through social media bloggers are all over the stratosphere (see the chart below). Yet, few bloggers are actually paying to market themselves: 81% of respondents said they had not used Facebook ads and 88% said they had not paid to market their blogs on another website.

Of those who have paid to market themselves most did not spend more than $50 per campaign, although one respondent reported hiring a marketing company at $40,000 a year. And those who do pay seem pleased with their results.

Of course, all of this comes with a caveat. What does spending money actually mean? When asked, “Do you consider exchanging traffic, guest posts, content syndication or giving away free products and services "paid" marketing?” 42% said “yes, that costs me time and money” and 56% said “no” because they don’t spend out of pocket.

There is a clear divide in how bloggers view their budgets of money and time.

Why not Pay to Play?

When asked why they aren’t paying to market themselves, 50% of respondents reported that they’d love to take their marketing game up a notch; they just don’t have the money.

How Bloggers Market Their Work?


Which Forms of Marketing Pay Off?


ROI (Return on Marketing Dollars Spent)


In the crowded street corner we call the internet, you have to stand out and often that comes at a cost. But when, where, and why should you pay? When should you DIY? Join us for our BlogHer panel as we try to suss out the myriad of options and Catch-22 feelings around marketing your work online.

Credit Image: Howard Lake via Flickr

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