So I haven’t been blogging that long, but I have reached many milestones in the past few months (More on that here). The one that I am most proud of is that I reached 15,000 pageviews in my second month of blogging. There are so many blog posts about getting more traffic, but I feel like most of them don’t give the specific things that impact blog growth the most. They give tidbits of information that aren’t as important as others. Instead of talking about everything I did, I’m going to tell you what impacted my traffic growth the most.
So before you go about increasing your traffic, you’re going to have to set a good foundation. Here’s what I did.
//Make A Plan
Before I even set up the site, I created a business plan. I use the term business plan very loosely because I honestly didn’t put as much effort as I should have. I knew that if I was going to start a blog, I was going to go all the way. I was going to put in my all, so I did a ton of research. I started writing posts on my private blog I had for fun (I actually wrote my current most popular post there) and created a list of blog post ideas. It wasn’t excessive, but I put a lot of thought into starting this blog way before I launched it.
//Have All The Necessary Pages Up
At the beginning stages of your blog, you should at least have an “About” page and a “Contact Me” page. You can add more as you go along. (For example, I have a page for “My List” in the navigation bar.) Having those two pages makes your blog more professional. Also, put a picture of yourself on your blog. Showing a photo of yourself humanizes your brand and increases your reader’s trust. If you’re not comfortable with this, it’s fine. It’ll just be harder to build an audience.
//Have 5 Awesome Posts Published Before Launch
I published 10 posts in the first two days my blog was live. That’s a bit excessive, but I wanted a lot of content on my site from the get go. The general rule of thumb is to have five posts live when you launch. This way, when readers reach your site, they’ll be able to scroll around and read other similar articles.
Throughout the first month, make sure you publish a LOT of content.
If you’re meant to be a blogger, this should be easy. When you start a blog, you’ll sort of be on this writing high where you want to improve your blog as much as you can. This doesn’t necessarily be writing posts. You’ll also spend a ton of time tweaking the design, adding plugins, etc.
This is so important because the more content there is, the more things there are for your audience to read. I only published four posts in my second month of blogging. Four! (I would advise you to write more, but I was out of town all month) And I still had a huge influx of traffic. Before you even think about increasing traffic, you need to make a blog worth reading. Quality and quantity is important, so make sure you write a lot.
//Create An Editorial Calendar (With Posts Your Ideal Audience Will Want To Read)
You should have an idea of who your ideal audience is (That should be a part of your business plan). I’ll go more into that later. If you are a mommy blogger, you shouldn’t write too much about…I don’t know, horror movies? Unless you have a way to tie it back to your niche. I am currently a college lifestyle blogger. Even though my primary niche is college, I write about other stuff like goal setting, travel, etc. Even though those aren’t perfectly aligned with my niche, they are still posts my readers will be interested in.
I may be contradicting myself, but you should write things you enjoy, too. If you want to turn your blog into a business, you shouldn’t, but if this is just something you do for fun, have at it. I do write personal posts from time to time when they relate to my life, but this blog isn’t a business (at least right now it’s not). These posts are awesome in terms of humanizing my brand, but if you solely want to focus on growing your audience, you should spend more time on evergreen content within your niche.
//Created Social Media Sites For Blog
This did not impact my blog growth at all. (Aside from Pinterest, but that isn’t really a social media platform). In the beginning stages of my blog, I didn’t focus much on this aspect. I still recommend putting some effort into your social media accounts because they are very important in the long run.
//Implemented A More Professional Design
Keep in mind that I had only been blogging for one month at this point. I was using a free WordPress design. It was pretty boring looking, but I made sure to make it clean and professional so that readers would take it more seriously.
- I organized my navigation-I made sure my categories easy to find and I organized them.
- I added a favicon– That little daisy you see on the tab for this site. That’s a favicon. The fact that there is something there that isn’t the “WordPress” logo makes this site look professional.
- I made sure my design showcased my brand– I am going to talk more about branding in my next point, so stay tuned.
- Clean up your sidebar– I got rid of unnecessary widgets on my sidebar like the calendar and “meta.” Since they weren’t really adding anything to my site, I got rid of them. I recommend you get rid of everything that’s cluttering your sidebar.
//I Built A Brand
I’ll be honest. I didn’t know anything about branding when I started this blog. I had just noticed that blogs with similar images and colors looked nicer. So I streamlined my images. You think I make similar blog post images out of laziness? No! I do it because it makes my site look nicer. My Blog’s Pinterest Board definitely showcases that.
There are other ways I unconsciously built a brand. I wrote in the same tone of voice throughout. I defined my ideal audience and niche (more on that later. I also made the colors and fonts coordinate on my site. These are things that define my brand.
My brand definitely isn’t complete yet. I have a long way to go, but the fact that I created a cohesive brand early gave me a lot of traffic by readers who do come back.
//Here Are Some of My Goals For My Brand:
- Have a brand photo shoot
- Update my logo
- Buy a professional design
//I Chose A Niche And Stuck To It
My niche is relatively broad. I am currently labeled as a “college lifestyle blogger,” so I write a lot about my college experience. Since this is a lifestyle blog, I have the freedom to write about other things like travel, organization, books, etc. I just make sure that what I write is in line with what my ideal audience likes to read.
//I Defined My Ideal Audience
I defined my ideal audience when I created my plan. I had an idea of who my readers were going to be, so I made sure to write content that they would be interested in.
//I Created Awesome And Relevant Content
The big word here is “relevant.” I could write a bunch awesome blog posts, but if they aren’t in line with my blog’s purpose or interesting to my ideal reader, they won’t get lasting traffic. If my content was all over the place, people wouldn’t keep coming back.
I would also like to say that my content isn’t about the same thing all the time. That would be boring and I wouldn’t enjoy writing blog posts. Forcing out posts doesn’t help anyone. Make sure that you are writing about something you are passionate about. If you market to people who are passionate about the same thing, the rest will work itself out.
//I Used Pinterest Strategically
This is the big one. Pinterest is 90% the reason why my traffic increased so much. One of the first things I did was convert to a Pinterest Business Account. This way, I would be able to check my analytics. After that, I applied for “Rich Pins.” Rich pins are much more professional looking and are the pins that show up most on other boards. These are the two main things I did with my business account.
Now wait for it…this is a biggie.
Even with the things I did in my first month of blogging, my pins still weren’t getting much traffic because I didn’t have an initial following. So here’s what I did. I joined Group Boards. I looked up group boards that college bloggers are a part of and joined them. This strategy helped my blog reach thousands of readers in my site’s demographic. This is the one big thing I think all bloggers should do.
Well, with that, I guess I’m done. I hope this post helps you increase your site’s traffic and inspires you to improve your blog. Until next time.
What advice do you have for new bloggers? What strategies do you use to increase traffic to your blog?