Whether you’re new to blogging or have been at it for a while, a couple of questions always seem to remain the same: How do I get more traffic to my site? or How do I get more readers?
I fear the answer isn’t going to be exactly what you want. Blogging is just like dieting–there’s no magic pill to make you skinnier and healthier, and magic certainly doesn’t have anything to do with growing your blog traffic and audience. It takes two little words: hard work. So, roll up your sleeves because I’m going to show you a little about how to get it done.
The first thing you need to do is “sell” your blog to others. If you are talking about your blog in terms such as “It’s brand new and not that great yet” or “It will never be as good as [top blogger]” then people are less likely to visit. If you aren’t interested in your blog, we won’t be either.
Create some buzz within your circle of friends or at work by alluding to things you write on your blog. A simple “Can you believe what happened to me over the weekend?” will send people scrambling to the blog post you wrote about it if you leave the right cookie crumb trail.
How many times a day or week do you send personal emails? All email accounts have the ability to set up an automated signature that appears on every email you send out. This makes a perfect–and often forgotten–marketing tool. Along with your name, add the title, a short description and link to your blog in that automated signature.
You’re probably already on Facebook, but have you explored other free accounts like LinkedIn, Twitter and the new Google+? These are all free tools that you can use to market yourself and your blog. Most–even LinkedIn–have the ability to integrate your blog so that posts automatically show up on your profile.
One of the biggest things with networking is finding others with similar interests. If you blog about running and fitness, search online for “running fitness blogs” and then follow those blogs and people on their social networks. Check out Listorious which allows you to search key terms to also find people with like interests on Twitter. (Yes, you must get a Twitter account.) Connecting and creating relationships is what is going to help you grow a long-term audience.
Once you find some people to follow, get to know them. You know that long-term audience thing we talked about above? It’s not going to happen on its own. You are going to need to invest some major time on social networking sites, especially if your blog is new. Think about it, if you find another person with a dog that shares the same rare disease as your pooch, you are more likely to remember that person and keep in touch.
Comment on other blogs, especially those with high traffic and interaction. Many blogs today have enabled plugins that show your most recent blog post under your comments. Additionally, use your name and your website name in the name field (Jackie from Prime Parents’ Club). Always leave your blog URL in the appropriate spot on the comment form so readers of that blog can click on it. Also, visit forums that interest you and leave comments there. If people like what you’re saying in comments, they might click over to your site.
Enable the buttons that allow people to share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Stumble, Google+ and others. Just because you don’t use them doesn’t mean other people won’t. Tweet, Facebook, Stumble and Digg your own posts. Also, always use hashtags (those words with the #) when tweeting your posts. For this post, I will tweet it with the hashtags: #blogging, #bloggers, #blogs. People often set up notifications for hashtags they follow and it will send them over to your blog.
Here’s a biggy in growing a new blog, or a blog that seems to be “stalled” with traffic/readers. Ask your blogger friends to guest post on your blog. Not only will you be promoting the blog, but the guest poster will be promoting it on his or her blog and social network–which means you may double or triple your audience reach. It also works the other way–ask other bloggers if they are looking for guest posts and write one (or a series) for their site.
Search engine optimize your posts. Cute blog titles are funny and sometimes fun, but if no one knows what “Wascally Wabbit” means then they’re not going to read the post and it’s not going to show up in online searches. Always put the keyword of your post in the first couple of words in your title. Also, include headers with key terms (like in this post) and also spread key terms throughout your post. For example, if you’re writing about cats, be sure to include a range of terms that others may search on–kittens, kitties, kitty (and even any common misspellings). Additionally, always add the title and description to your blog post. If you are a WordPress blogger, there is a fantastic plugin called “All in One SEO.” GET IT and then USE IT.
Are you looking for new readers? Check out browser and news home pages and see what’s hot…then write about it. It may just show up in search engines.
A word of caution: Don’t be offended when your friends and family don’t read your blog religiously (or at all). I’m not sure about this phenomenon, but it happens to bloggers all over. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask the people you know to visit your blog and share your articles. Yes, I’ve even begged and bribed before.
Use a photograph of yourself in your blog bio and in all your social networking accounts. Even better, use the same photo for automatic recognition across sites. Some people won’t remember your name or your blog’s name, but they may remember your face and think, “Oh yeah, she’s the one who writes about ecofriendly living. I want to read it.” Create a free Gravatar account which will automatically pull your photo and information any time you leave a comment on a blog or forum using that email address.
With a little elbow grease and an open mind, you can grow your traffic and readership. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight.
Do you have some great tips on how you’ve grown your readership and traffic? Leave it in the comments. We have a lot of newbie bloggers looking for advice.