There are a few things every blogger wants more of. Stuff like time. Money. A bigger audience. This post is about the audience part. How to get more exposure, or “reach” for your blog posts. Because even if you publish great content, if no one sees it, you’re not a whole lot better off.
That’s why we’ve got so many promotion techniques for blogging and content marketing. It’s why bloggers build big social followings – and big email lists. Ultimately, blogging (or creating any kind of content) is as much about building an audience as it is about the words, the images, or the headlines.
Republishing your blog posts on LinkedIn and Medium is about building your audience. It’s about recreating a scaled-down version of your blog on a completely different site. As many of you know, both of these platforms allow you to publish content for free. They’re somewhat similar to Blogger.com or other free blogging platforms, but people don’t usually publish on them just because they want a free blog. The real allure of these two sites is the massive audiences they attract, and how often “regular” bloggers can get Fortune 500-level exposure if one of their posts takes off. Both platforms have some very good things going for them. And some not so good things.
Let’s talk about the good stuff first. How much more exposure can you expect to get? Well, doubling or tripling your content’s reach is possible. And if you write something that does really well, it could easily get five or ten times the views it would get if you had only published it on your blog.
But not everybody gets results like that. Scoop.It did a study to see how many pageviews and reshares they could get by republishing their blog posts. They didn’t double their exposure, but they did increase pageviews by 80%, and reshares by 65%.
Most of the action came from LinkedIn and Medium, but Social Media Today and Business 2 Community generated some views and reshares, too. If the idea of republishing really appeals to you, don’t skip those platforms, either.
How much of an increase you get depends on where you are with your audience building. If you’re already getting, say, 500 views or more for each piece of content you publish, republishing on LinkedIn probably won’t double your content’s reach. You’ll net a hundred or a couple hundred more views, maybe. If your republished post gets picked up by LinkedIn Pulse you could see that huge leap in exposure that we all want so much.
That’s Neal Schaffer’s view of publishing on LinkedIn. In his podcast episode, “LinkedIn Publishing Platform Tips: Should I Republish My Blog Content on LinkedIn?” he’s upfront that republishing isn’t for everyone. People with an existing audience, he says, might not get much additional exposure. But for the bloggers that are seeing less than a couple hundred views per blog post, he thinks it’s a smart move to republish on LinkedIn.
This matches the experience of people on Medium, too. Some fairly big names have found their audiences on Medium, then moved off it once they had enough fame to go it on their own. Elle Luna is one example. She’s the author of the book The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion. That started out as a post on Medium. Elle hasn’t published on Medium recently, or even published on it in years. But she publishes on her blog all the time. It was the Medium piece that put her in front of the sort of people who could resonate with her message.
Paul Jarvis also started out on Medium. He’s also left it, though he continues to publish on his own blog. You can read his breakup post with Medium here. He left specifically to build his email list and because “I don’t want to keep playing in other people’s playgrounds. I’d rather focus on and foster my own.”
Paul Jarvis’s last post on Medium. He left it to write and build his audience on his own blog.
Building on rented land
This brings up the major hazard of these platforms. It’s called “digital sharecropping” in some circles, or more commonly known as “building your house on rented land.” All that really means is that you should never abandon your blog. These additional platforms are great for attracting and building an audience, but you have very limited control over your work on them. They could go out of business at any time.
Don’t be tempted to make them more important than your own blog, though there are plenty of stories about big companies making this mistake.
Is it unthinkable for LinkedIn to tank? Of course. And Medium sure seems pretty stable. But I only need one word to make my point: MySpace. There was a time when MySpace seemed as inevitable and stable as Medium or LinkedIn. Investing in any of these platforms carries a risk. That’s why I want to urge you – beg you – do not to get lured into killing your blog. Publish your content on your blog first, then swing around and publish your new posts on these platforms.
The duplicate content bugaboo
Just mentioning “republishing” will remind some of you of another hazard. At least an imagined hazard. If know SEO, you’ll have heard of the dreaded “duplicate content” penalty. Does it apply to reposting on these platforms? Could you get a nasty ding from Google and Bing simply by reposting your content? In a word, no. In the words of Neil Patel, “there’s no such thing as GOOGLE’S DUPLICATE CONTENT PENALTY.”
If that’s not enough to convince you, consider Jen Slegg’s post, “There is No Duplicate Content Penalty in Google”. Or Ryan Battles’s study of how publishing duplicate content never harmed his rankings. Or Ahref’s post on the topic. Convinced yet? Google doesn’t see your republished posts as spam. It sees them as syndicated content.
If you’re still feeling paranoid, here’s what to do:
- Republish your posts on LinkedIn and Medium about 7-10 days after you’ve published them on your blog.
- Use a Rel=Canonical tag to point to the original version of the post (which is on your blog, of course). Like this:
Then link to the original version of your blog post (the one on your website), like this:
- Rewrite your post for each platform.
Not the ideal solution – at least if you wanted to save time. But this will definitely remove any duplicate content consequences, assuming you thoroughly rewrite the article.
Some bloggers do a play on this where they change just the headline or the headline and the first paragraph. It’s a good try, but it won’t change much. A better approach is to actually post two different versions of the post on your LinkedIn and Medium accounts. You could also write a summary of the original post on those two accounts, then point people to your blog.
Turning readers into subscribers
The last big drawback with publishing on these platforms is that you don’t own your audience. The platform does. They make the rules about how and when and where your content shows up – or doesn’t. Sometimes those rules help you, sometimes they don’t.
The biggest point where they don’t help you is with building your list. As you know, we’re pretty big on that. And we’re not alone. As social media expert Ian Cleary wrote last year, “Give me an email subscriber rather than 10 fans or followers any day.”
That doesn’t mean building your list on LinkedIn or Medium has to be a total bust. There are clever ways around each platform’s limitations. But you’re simply not going to have the tools, the tricks and the functionality for building your email list that you’d have on your site. Oh well.
Here are a couple of workarounds:
- Just put a link to your site at the beginning of the post, as we’ve seen before. But instead of just driving people to any old page, send them to a squeeze page for a free gift, or access to a tool… in exchange for their email address.
- Use a traditional author biography paragraph at the close of your posts – just like if you were guest posting. Include a call to action to join your list.
If your blog hasn’t taken off yet, you should definitely be republishing your content on Medium. If you’re in a business niche, republish on LinkedIn, too. And on any of the other highly regarded republishing sites, like Business 2 Community. Republishing is an excellent way to get more exposure for your posts, even if it’s just a couple hundred more views. And if you use some of the list building tactics mentioned above, you might get some subscribers out of the deal, too.
What do you think?
Have you been republishing your blog posts on LinkedIn or Medium? How well has it worked? Got any tips for making it work better? Share your thoughts in the comments.