Kick Start Your Blog by Embracing the Nobodies

This is a guest post by Danny Iny, an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing.

Your blog has been up for about six months, and your traffic is hovering around ten unique visitors per day… on a good day. And you know that at least one of them is your mom.

Does this sound familiar?

In searching for an effective blog promotion strategy, you eventually realize that commenting on other blogs can be a good way of getting some attention.

So you make your list of the hottest blogs to be on, and subscribe to them all. You check in every day, read the posts diligently, and dutifully leave solid, interesting, and value-adding comments. But by the time you’ve done it, there are already fifty other comments on the post, and you get a click or two through to your blog, if you’re lucky.

Don’t despair – there’s a better way: embracing the nobodies!

“Embracing the Nobodies” is a concept borrowed from Guy Kawasaki’s new book Enchantment. Rather than chasing after the Technorati Top 100, go after the blogs that are in the same position as you – they’re just starting off, their traffic is modest, and they’re getting a handful of comments per post.

It’s All About Share of Voice

The reason why this makes sense is that even though the blog’s audience is a lot smaller, you get a much larger share of voice.

Think about it like this. Sure, there may be tens of thousands of people reading a post on a major authority blog, and that’s a big, attractive audience. But if you’re one of a hundred comments, then you’re only 1% of the comment pool, and only the most hardcore readers are likely to read every single one of those comments.

In contrast, if you’re one of ten comments on a small blog, then you represent 10% of the comment pool (20%, really, because half of them are probably the blog owner’s responses). Everyone who reads the post and likes it is likely to scroll down far enough to see if there are any good comments, and so they’re likely to notice you.

Speaking for myself, I consistently find that I get as much or more traffic from a comment on iMarketingHacked, Pocket Changed, or Corporate Radical as I do from a comment on Copyblogger or Problogger.

But It Isn’t Really About the Comments

Let’s be honest – a few clicks through to your blog are always nice, but that’s not what this is really about. What it’s really about is relationships.

When you leave a comment on a big authority blog, the blogger may respond, but you’ll have to leave a lot of memorable comments for them to remember you, and for a relationship to start to form.

With a smaller blog, because you represent a larger share of voice, you get noticed a lot faster. Commenting on small blogs can lead to collaborations like guest posting (we’ve had several very successful guest posts on Firepole Marketing that came about in this way).

When guest posting, you both want to make a good impression, so you both promote the post, and you both end up getting more traffic than you otherwise would – and often it’s traffic that sticks!

Where to Find the Small Blogs

So far so good, but where do you find these blogs? That’s easier said than done – after all, if they were at the top of the Google rankings, or you knew their names off the top of your head, then they wouldn’t be small!

Here is a procedure that you can follow to find good partners: start by visiting your favorite authority blogs – the really big players in your space. Then scroll down to the comments, and click through to the websites of everyone who left a comment. Make a list of the ones that meet these criteria:

1. The content is good. This is critical – you want a blog that is small because it is still growing, not a blog that is small because it sucks. If you don’t like the content and won’t enjoy reading it, then move on.

2. Their content is related to your content. In other words, this blog’s audience could be your audience, and vice versa.

3. Posts on the blog are getting between 5 and 15 comments on average. That’s small enough that your presence will be noticed and impactful, but big enough to show that they know what they’re doing, and they’re going to grow.

4. You can subscribe to the blog in a way that works for you. I eliminate any blog that I can’t subscribe to via email, because my workflow relies on email updates. Whatever method works for you, make sure they support it.

Then go ahead and start commenting, but please start right here on this post – I promise to click through and look at every site that leaves a comment, and I’ll follow the ones that I like!

What do you think of this strategy? Have you tried it? Are you going to? How could you make it better?

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Comments

  1. says

    This is really a good idea, Danny, which I have to proudly say I am using already.

    I started a few months ago and had the luck never to go after the big ones, but kinda connected with my peers. I believe we pulled each others up and I love them as much as any of my offline friends. I actually consider them friends.

    I know that the established bloggers don’t have much time for the new ones so if we don’t help each others, who will help us, right :)

    I do have to add that once you go up with your “team” you eventually get notices by the big ones and connect with them without actually doing anything. That is what is happening to me now.

    Thanks so much for this post, it made me sure I am doing the right thing :)
    Brankica just posted 50 Traffic Sources You Should Milk Like Crazy

  2. says

    I’m a nobody! Embrace me! ;)

    Really, this is a sound philosophy. I’ve had a website since 1994 and been blogging since 2003. Back in the day, getting traffic was more simply a matter of anyone finding out what the URL was, because search was poor and sites few. Getting traffic wasn’t the issue and my oldest blog continued to bring traffic even after nearly a year of redesign with no posting.

    But the game is completely different now. And building a like-minded (or at least like-interested) community is the fundamental traffic generator.

    Finding those who could form such a community (with the four caveats your present) is one of the best ways to get the traffic you want. Great info.
    Alison Moore Smith just posted The 4-Hour Workweek Fatal Flaw- It’s MLM

  3. says

    This is really sound advice, because as you state, it really is about relationships and learning from one another. Not only is this a way to develop traffic, but these blog owners are the one’s who will likely give you links on their site.

    I have several links as a result of developing this type of online relationship. I have never asked for any, but I also place links on my site so that what few visitors I have may also see why I appreciate the content of the blogs with which I read and interact.
    kidgas just posted Im Still Making Money Online

  4. says

    Hi Danny,

    This is a brilliant idea which works great for me. I use this strategy since about two months after I launched my blog and I must say it gave me all the push I needed!

    I have briefly mentioned about this strategy in one of my guest posts @ Problogger (Don’t Go It Alone: Relationship-building for Bloggers) where I insisted bloggers to reach out to newbie bloggers; they can be blogging buddies too!.

    Yes, certainly it is easy to get noticed and moreover the newbie blogger will be a lot grateful to you for the support you offer. In my opinion, our commenting list should be a mix of pros and newbies. Concentrating too much on any one category won’t work much when it comes to traffic.

    And, I have to mention that I have gained more loyal readers and subscriber who clicked through my comments on newbie blogs when compared to click throughs from established blogs.

    Great post by the way. Sure to see you around.

    Cheers,
    Jane.
    Jane just posted How I Managed To Get My Posts Featured On A-List Blogs

  5. says

    Funny you should post this today! I have only been blogging for a little over 2 months and I love commenting on “nobodies” mostly because I know how much I appreciate comments! In fact, I was just thinking about getting up the courage to ask one of them to do a guest post and/or interview! Never thought of this benefiting me in the way you mentioned but I will definitely keep it going.

  6. says

    Oh yes Danny, I always think of them as the “long tail keywords of blogs” to comment on. :) Sometimes we need look no farther than our own blog’s commenters to find blogs we’ve never heard of at all..blogs which are quite interesting and also have a new set of readers we’ve never heard of – and who have never heard of us. I’ve met some nice folks there in various little nooks and crannies of the internet. Great post, btw!
    Christie just posted Stalking a domain from unavailable- to expired- to mine!

  7. says

    I typically comment on the smaller blogs – mainly because I tend to follow them more than the large ones. I find that the larger the blog, the less personal it becomes. Let’s face it, blogs that can get 100+ comments on each post rarely is authored by someone that has the time to respond to each of those comments.

    With smaller blogs I find that I do have a lot more in common with the author because my blog isn’t large as well. We usually have the same goals in building relationships with our readers, and learning from each other as well.
    Paul Salmon just posted Why You Should Buy Docking Stations for Laptops

  8. says

    Hi Danny,
    I guess the whole concept of being a nobody doesn`t enter my mind since everyone is unique, special and somebody in their ultimate core value (philosophy here :-) ) However when you look at it in the marketing perspective I guess there can be the nobody perspective – lol. And I like the fact that you`re showing people that you can actually gain more visibility if you go to a market (or blog) that isn`t saturated with people trying to gain attention.
    There`s a saying here in Brazil that goes like this → In the land of the blind the person who has one eye is king.
    I apply this concept when it comes to seo too. Running after extremely competitive niches is just plain dumb if you don`t have the resources – (a.k.a. ..a lot of money) to beat your competition.
    You made some really great points.
    All the best,
    Eren
    Eren Mckay just posted Get Inspired Discover How the Color Pink Affects Your Emotions

    • says

      “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” – I love it, Eren!

      Part of it is about being strategic, but part of it, just as many other commenters have stated, is just about connecting with people like you, and building relationships.

      And I hope you weren’t offended by “nobodies” – I just meant the people that aren’t superstars like Brian Clark or Kristi Hines… ;) I’m a nobody too! :D
      Danny just posted Think Like a Parent on Timelines- and a Nanny on Autonomy

      • Eren Mckay says

        Hey Danny,
        Well when you were talking about nobodies .. my own self never came to mind ;-) so I really couldn`t get offended – LOL. I was just clarifying the philosophical side to the categorization of nobodies… hee hee. Anyways.. I often say to people… I don`t determine my friends by how much money or status they have – rather if they have a good heart.. that`s what matters.
        So that`s my way of thinking abut life and business. I`m against manipulation and it`s not in my personality to ever brown nose someone. I believe that we need to build true friendships with genuine caring. And of course I build those relationships with people I discern to be great hearted (kind, sweet, empathetic, etc.).
        Thanks for your reply :-)
        Blessings,
        Eren

  9. says

    Personally I comment on blogs simply because I want to join the conversation and spread any thoughts/experiences I have rather than thinking about what I can get out of the time spent commenting.

    However I can appreciate your points on commenting on smaller blogs. Furthermore I have heard good things from smaller bloggers joining together into a “mastermind” where they share guest posts and agree to comment on each others’ blogs to build up their traffic as a “network” and benefit from everyone’s efforts rather than trying to do it all themselves.
    Richard just posted Believe In Yourself- 4 Motivational Videos To Get Your Adrenaline Pumping

  10. says

    Subscribing to larger blogs is helpful when you want to get an idea what makes them tick. And when you comment on them, chances are you may be unnoticed (unless both the blogger and commenters go through each and every comment posted). So, connecting with smaller bloggers (and there’s a lot out there!) and building a community is a smart move. Thanks for sharing this!
    Andy just posted Making Next Generation Movies with 3D Video Cameras

  11. says

    Commenting on smaller blogs is something I’ve been doing without realizing its benefits. All I know is how much I appreciate knowing someone connects with something I put out there, even in a small way. Guess it’s kind of a pay-it-forward thing, huh?
    brenda just posted 2011 365-79-85

  12. says

    This is a great tip, one that I hadn’t personally seen before. I am more of a blog reader then a writer these days however but I can still uses this idea to spread my wings and grow my relationship with other readers and writers as I try to grow my retail business. Thanks danny!

  13. says

    I usually comment on smaller blogs, because most of the ones that are connected to my field of interested are in German and they do not have so much traffic as the ones in English. I thought of it as a disadvantage sometimes, but you have also a good point..a targeted audience is better, than one which is not interested in your postings..
    Hope that my German blog won’t scare you off and that there are some German speakers among you ;)
    Regards,
    Anna
    Anna just posted Wellness & Yachtcharter

  14. says

    If people follow your advice, commenting on big blogs will also be useful. Some will maybe use your strategy and find the blog via the comments. You have a good point however, comments on small blogger will get more attention. Personal I prefer commentluv enabled blogs, and I am glad to see many of the comments here comes from commengluv blogs.
    Bjorn just posted My favorite WordPress comment plugins

  15. Shelly Kramer says

    Danny, this is a great post. I also make it a point to routinely seek out people who have commented on my blog – read their blogs, comment and, if possible, share their content. Your commentors are giving you a huge gift by caring enough to leave a comment, and I try to return that favor.

    Like you, if I don’t see a subscribe by email option it annoys me greatly – and it might just be the reason a blogger loses me as a potential subscriber, commentor, fan, etc. I think UX is really important in blog/website design and giving people options to get your content in a myriad of different ways is an often overlooked component of really great design.

    I really don’t care for the strategy of leaving a reply on the first comment because, to me anyway, that seems disingenuine. Almost spammy …. as if the only reason to leave a comment is for the visibility – and the person who regularly did that on my blog – or who I saw doing it on other blogs – would be the person who gets ignored. Just my take, we all have our own standards, but that one would bother me.

    Thanks for a great post – love this blog and it’s always on my “don’t miss” list!

    Shelly
    @shellykramer

  16. says

    Hi Danny and everyone, thanks for sharing your insights here Danny and taking the time to write up a super guest post!

    I’m not a big fan of those blogs where there are quite a number of comments and only the top 5 or so comments have received replies (and that’s another reason to reach out to the (current) blogging “nobodies”. A blogging nobody today could be a blogging big shot tomorrow!).

    I mean, why create a blog (which is not a private blog) where you do not take time enough to reply to your commentors? The exception being that the commentors are often constituents of the troll brigade. You always get a few of those on any popular blog.

    When I have comments on my own blog (its a rareity, LOL!) then I tend to go way over the top with my replies. But then – I write posts on subject matter that I am passionate about, thus I often gush forth with enthusiasm whenever I get the chance :-)

    Thanks again!

    Joseph
    Joseph Archibald just posted Playing the Google Search Game – Guest Post on Pat Flynn’s Blog is Live

  17. says

    Hi Danny ~ I’ve been trying to work more at connecting, but find life keeps interrupting my plans! I truly do enjoy finding new blogs and diving into the conversation, but it’s the same old story everyone has… there isn’t enough hours in the day. I like your idea to focus on blogs getting between 5 and 15 comments. I’d never looked at it this way before.

    I’m also still trying to find the best audience for the design work I create on my blog, so I’ll take your advice to try sites where the content is related to my content.

    Great inspiring ideas ~ thank you!
    Sue
    Sue Alexander just posted Your Smile makes any day Brighter

  18. says

    I’d been wondering for some time about the value of commenting on the smaller blogs (like my own) and now you’ve confirmed it for me! I shall add it to my list or priorities from today.
    It’s all about Making Connections, as Jon Morrow is teaching us on his course at the moment. But I can truly see that the conections don’t have to always be with ‘mega stars’ to make friends.
    Linda/Positive Spin just posted 3 Lies People Love To Tell You About Your Confidence

  19. says

    Ari – yes, I should have qualified my comment to some extent. I was afraid that if I did so it would become somewhat rambling :-)

    You’ve done that for me though, so thanks for that!

    Regards
    Joseph

  20. says

    I’m right there with you on not being able to subscribe by email. For something that is so simple to activate (on feedburner), I find that a lot of people don’t activate it. Even big names whom you would think have all the angles covered don’t always have this enabled!

    When I find blogs like that with whom I’d like to follow, I’ll send a little contact message asking them if they could enable it. I usually don’t hear back from them…guess they didn’t want me as a subscriber, nor do they really care about that.

    Perhaps they think that they would rather have me sign up for their newsletter…which I really don’t care to get in most cases since I just see that as a popular mechanism for blasting out affiliate links, and not really connecting with the blogger, or getting what I really want, their blog updates. It’s all in how you use it, but I just find that more often than not, the newsletter isn’t something of value to me.

    As for smaller blogs, yeah, they’re a great place to connect with new people since there isn’t as much noise.

    Good post Danny, enjoyed that.
    Wayne John just posted 3 ways to maintain password security while working with a web developer

  21. says

    I really like your suggestion on how to find GOOD nobodies (like myself;). I do actually get a good chunk of my (small amount) of traffic from commenting on the big blogs. But I recognize that, as you said, they’re never really going to notice me. A lot of articles have talked about finding your blog tribe and realistically that is going to be other nobodies like me who support each other. Now I’m going to go back and find some good nobodies to buddy up to ;) Thanks for the tip!

  22. says

    Great post and advice Danny. Commenting hasn’t really been a big strategy of mine, until now. And with this growing comLuv and KeywordLuv community that’s growing, I’m embracing more of it.

    I should also spend more time blogging with a consistent voice, I tend to be all over the place on my personal blog, I do enjoy sharing various interesting topics though :)
    Haroun Kola just posted Call to Prayer from Masuru Emoto – Thursday- March 31- Noon

  23. says

    Don’t you love how some of the most simple strategies are just plain over-looked. This is an awesome idea that I’m going to pursue. Previously I was guilty of chasing the Technorati top 100′s, just hoping for the right person to notice my comments…Not going to to that anymore! Time to shift gears and get back to the basicis of what a blog is intended for anyway…connecting with like-minded people. on a personal level. Praise be to the little guy…or gal!!!

    Great post, Thanks Danny!

    Chris Lauscher.
    Chris Lauscher just posted How To Tell If Your Baby Is Having Trouble Breathing

  24. says

    Dear Danny,
    Fine post and sound advice! Probably 99 % of all bloggers would not start a blog at all, were they only concerned about traffic and statistics.
    Fairly new at blogging I am happy for each and every comment (sometimes to discover it was meant for some other enlargement), my friends love to read my posts but are somewhat e-media illiterate, a long way to go and much perseverance and discipline needed.
    Thank you for encouraging us all!

  25. says

    very good post Danny and very apt. Too many times we seek to hook the big fish first. But for get to think that netting a lot of small fish is often much much better than that one big fish.

    I am a firm believer of supporting, connecting and engaging with smaller blogs. Building those relationships and watching each other grow is priceless.

    The bigger Fish, seem, in my opinion, only interested as to what they can gain out of you. Not much about how they can help you. Yes they might write posts on how to do things, but ultimately they want to sell you something. It is very rare that a A-list blogger engages and comments on a no-bodies blog.
    Robert Bravery just posted Its No Joke Its Personal Now

  26. says

    Hi Danny ( and Ari and other bloggers),

    I agree with the comment made earlier. You ARE popping up every where, so I certainly wouldn’t call you a nobody. I’m wondering if you will remember me? What if I told you Your blog is awesome? I am a pro photographer, and a comment I read yesterday related to how another photographer didn’t like the fact that all too often he sees other photographers blogging just for the SEO benefit. I must admit that was the only reason I started doing it. But as I found myself reading and posting on other blogs, I learned so much in 30 days I couldn’t believe it. I should write a book! 30 days to the SEO pot of Gold, or something like that. There is so much knowledge found my interacting and exchanging information by blogging. I read every post on this thread, all 65 comments. Thanks.
    Don just posted Wedding Photography for Nicole and Evan- Heritage Hunt Country Club- Gainsville VA

    • says

      Thank you, Don, I’m really honored. I agree with you – there’s so much to learn by doing this, because you connect and engage with so many interesting and capable people. It’s really been a fantastic learning experience for me as well!

      As for popping up everywhere – well, that’s just good timing; three or four guest posts of mine happened to all be run in the same week. :)
      Danny just posted Interview with Marlee Ward of Metamorphoself

  27. says

    I absolutely agree with this approach. There are so many blogs that might have thousands of monthly visitors but very few comments. If you leave a comment on these blogs you will surely get noticed by the blog owner and it can develop into a mutually beneficial relationship that can result in guest posts, links, or other good things.

  28. says

    I absolutely agree with this strategy, as I have been practicing this for quite some time now. I even made a blog entry in which I have focused on getting the attention of bloggers who have the same status as mine, somewhere in the middle of the journey – yet have their own identity in the sphere.

    What really matters in choosing those newcomers:
    - traffic value of the site (alexa ranking, stable community and user activity – through comments as you have mentioned above).
    - will more likely stay on the web for a long time (probably the serious ones who actively update their blogs – about 3 – 4 posts per month is good enough).

    • says

      Jason, you raise a really important point – a lot of the newer sites out there don’t last all that long, and you want to minimize the risk that you spend lots of time on a blog that might vanish.

      I think part of that is looking for engaged communities and quality content; if the content is good, and there are engaged commenters (even just a handful), then it probably means that the blog will grow, especially because the blogger has the encouragement of the community.

      And once you get involved in that community, and you reciprocally support each other’s growth, then it will snowball, and give you both more momentum.
      Danny just posted Interview with Marlee Ward of Metamorphoself

  29. says

    Hi Danny,

    This post really caught my attention because only last week I had seen a post about “kissing a lot of internet babies.” Basically, it was the same idea: find the smaller bloggers, and spend time there commenting and building relationships. Chances are those internet babies are going to grow up to be some serious bloggers in a year or two, given their content is solid and their own networking skills are growing.

    I find that, as a small blogger myself, I’m extremely loyal to the people who visit my parenting blog and leave comments, and I help in any way I can. I’ve even gotten a few invitations to guest post, which sends me a lot of traffic that I couldn’t have gotten on my own.

    Delena
    Delena Silverfox just posted epc Belfast

  30. says

    Great post Danny!

    You have really brought a lot of important issues and strategies into play in an engaging way! I hadnt heard of the idea of starting with the nobodies before, but it really makes a lot of sense. It seems that the process of choosing who that group of bloggers is a very important one.
    Where your post takes it up a notch in my eyes is your discussion of what all of this commenting and following is all about: Relationships! If we can learn that the value of receiving comments on our blogs is so much more than just ‘klout’ and is instead a huge opportunity for engagement and relationship, than we are on the right path!

    Thank you very much for your time and effort on this post!

    Cheers
    Tyrell
    @tyrellmara

  31. says

    Thank you for the insight, Danny. I’m a relatively new blogger, and I’ve been struggling with balancing content creation, link building, comment making, social-media posting, etc. Your notion of targeting the smaller blogs for commenting makes sense to me. I’ve not tried it yet, but I have tried to convince small blog owners to exchange links with me, and it’s been a struggle. A lot of bloggers, even ones with newer blogs, seem to want only to link with blogs of higher PR. Actively commenting on some of these blogs might make make them more comfortable with developing a relationship. Thanks again! Doug Eikermann
    Doug Eikermann just posted Adaptation—The Life Skill Of Globalization

  32. says

    Interesting thoughts on developing a readership. I can’t help but think You’re time might still be better spent developing unique and valuable content.

    If all small bloggers took this idea to heart, I feel you would just end up with a group of self-celebrating niches that don’t really earn a wider following. Using the “Scene that Celebrates Itself” as an example, how many people know the Shoegaze band Lush today? Not many.

    I definitely stand by the idea that content is king and traditional link building tactics based on your unique pillar content might be more valuable than commenting on a plethora of PR 1′s and 2′s.

  33. says

    This is really an interesting read Danny. While I agree that building relationships with newbies is far easier though I also believe on keeping the focus. It’s okay to be lenient on accepting comments but be sure to still find a way to filter those who’re just taking advantage of the opportunity. Great post. Keep it up.

  34. says

    The method you’re giving here is actually a good strategy for any business, but just applied to the case of blogging. In business, the strategy is that you want to find all-star businesses that simply haven’t been discovered yet, then grow with those all-star businesses. If they’re already well known, you’re not going to get referrals from them, but if you can tell they’ve got a huge amount of untapped potential, they will be grateful for anything you can do to help them get additional business.
    TJ McDowell just posted Canon Rebel T2i Video Mode Review

  35. says

    Interesting idea.
    As for me I get the attention of the admin by doing some personal comments. Not just giving relevant topics but also some funny or personal impression about what I think about their ideas. That goes the same for other commentators of the same blog. Just be nice! ;)

  36. says

    I think that you make very cogent points. If you only focus on high traffic sites, you can easily get lost in all of the chatter. I try to comment on quality sites in my own niche, but I realize that I have to spread my wings a bit and visit other (different but related) niches where I can find new visitors and hopefully conversions, to my site.
    Renee just posted Starting over can lead to your rebirth