Greetings! I have been active on WordPress for 6 months so I thought that now would be a good time to talk about traffic.
First, a little background. My site actually started in 2009 but I started the migration to WordPress in 2012. Life interfered and I did not return to the migration until January of 2013– spurred on by the imminent expiration of my contract with my former host. When I was self-hosted, my traffic was stagnant but I decided that when I launched on WordPress, I would do it in style! Aggressively court traffic, is what I mean. There was so much to learn when I started my blog in 2009, but not as much as there is to understand today. There are now many ways to generate traffic, you simply need to find what’s right for you.The more you learn, the easier it will be for you when it comes to starting your blog and any additional features you want to include.
Here are the most effective methods for me. Keep in mind, though, that I blog about a fairly niche film topic (silent movies) and different methods work for different blogs. I do hope you find some of these techniques useful. Also, some of my techniques are WordPress-centric. What can I say? I am brand loyal.
Also, it goes without saying, but some of these tips just involve being a good, active citizen of the blogosphere.
Follow fellow bloggers and do not assume that you must only follow in your genre
Following other blogs is a powerful way to generate traffic for your own blog.
Start with browsing blogs that write on similar topics to yours. Use the Topic Search in your WordPress reader tab and start looking. For example, I started my search with topics like “movies” “films” and “classic movies” as well as the all-encompassing “entertainment” topic. Don’t just follow willy-nilly. Select the blogs that are interesting, informative and currently updated. After all, why would you want to follow a blog that is boring, dull or no longer maintained? Also, some blogs may be well-written but are just not something you are interested in. That’s fine. Don’t just follow blogs for what you can get as a blogger, follow them because you enjoy them as a reader.
Next, think about your other hobbies and interests, the ones you are not blogging about. For example, I also like to read about crafts and tea. Follow some blogs on those topics as well. Worst case scenario, you get to read more about subjects you already like. There is a good chance, though, that the folks you are reading may have interests that overlap with yours. They may not blog on the topic but they are happy to read about it.
Finally, when you read a particularly good post, check the bottom to see who “liked” it or left a comment. Visit the users’ blogs, if they have them, and see if they are someone you would like to follow. Active bloggers who visit other sites are often a blast to read and can become your loyal readers in turn.
To sum things up, what does following other blogs get you? Followers! If someone follows me, I almost always visit their blogs and I will often follow back.
I cannot emphasize enough, however, that I follow blogs first and foremost to enjoy their posts. The traffic boost is the icing on the cake.
When you are first starting out, it is essential that you network if you are serious about driving visitors to your site. If you don’t like to network, fine. Can you still grow? Sure. But it is a whole lot slower.
What should you join? I get a lot of traffic from blogger associations and blogathons.
A blogger association is a club for bloggers who write on the same topic. I currently belong to two movie blogging associations and have applied for a third. The type and number of blogging associations you can join depends on the topic you write about. Most associations maintain a site where member blogs are listed. This in itself will drive traffic to your site and it will also give a to-do list of blogs to visit and network with. Be a good citizen and promote member blogs that you particularly like.
A blogathon is an event that involves numerous bloggers writing posts on a chosen subject during a particular time frame. Blogathons have been very kind to me. They have won me loyal readers, introduced me to wonderful blogs. They also opened me up to writing on topics that I never would have dreamed of covering.
What makes a blogathon so powerful? Well, all of the participating blogs are driving their traffic toward one another. You may read Blog A’s post for the blogathon and then be led to Blogs B, C and D, great blogs you never even heard of before the event!
Most of all, though, blogathons are fun and they allow you to grow as a writer. That’s reward enough, even if you do not get a traffic boost.
Tweet as you have never tweeted before!
Twitter is a very powerful traffic driver. WordPress has a handy tutorial on linking your Twitter account to your blog.
Here are a few tips on using Twitter:
- Follow interesting folks, but not too many at once. If you are following 2,000 people and only have 25 followers, you might want to consider cutting back a bit. There are lots of tools that let you monitor new followers, unfollows and non-followers. I use Just Unfollow but there are many, many choices.
- Tweet old posts as well as new. Your newer followers may have missed your posts when you first tweeted them. Remember, though, that you can come off as spammy if you are not careful.
- Periodically search for new people to follow. Also be sure to see if the blogs you already follow have Twitter accounts. You will also want to check and see if your Twitter followers have blogs.
- Be sure that your Twitter profile clearly defines the topic of your blog and that it includes a link to your blog. A shocking number of people forget this important step.
Do not let your blog go inactive
How often should I post? Is a common query for beginners. A good rule of thumb is at least once a month. More often is better but you need to do what is realistic for you.
How does this drive traffic? Well, when I visit a blog, I often look for the latest post. If it is three months old, how urgent is it for me to return? In a few months or so. Maybe.
But what if I see that the blog is updated monthly, weekly, daily? I am much more likely to return frequently to see what is new.
Updating often also means you will appear in the blogrolls of linking sites and on the reader page of WordPress.
If you like it, say it!
If you enjoy a post, leave a comment complimenting the author. It’s a nice thing to do and is universally appreciated. It makes you a good citizen and it will help you make friends with fellow bloggers. A side benefit is getting your own blog’s information in the public eye.
How to compliment a blog post:
- Be sincere. Don’t just comment to win followers. You don’t want to be like those spammers who leave hilariously generic comments.
- Be specific. Say what you like about the post and why you like it. It will make your comment more interesting to read and will be useful to the blog’s author.
Consider your audience and how to expand it
Is your blog aimed at devotees of your subject? Consider adding posts that will attract a more general audience. Does this mean that you abandon your core followers? No, of course not. But everyone is new once. Adding posts that are aimed at newcomers will make your blog more attractive to dabblers and readers who are unfamiliar with your topic.
Another way to expand your audience is to consider posts that relate to your overall topic in a way that is of interest to a more general audience. For example, my animated GIFs and After the Silents posts are some of my most popular features.
A word of caution though. If you post on too many subjects, your blog may seem unfocused and disorganized. This is fine if your blog is meant to be eclectic but it can turn off your readers if you stray too far from your original purpose. A few off-topic posts are fine but week after week of them will drive away loyal readers. If you are finding a lot of success with your off-topic posts, consider rebranding your blog or launching a new blog that covers those subjects.
Exploit you pet peeves
No matter what topic you blog about, there are sure to be misconceptions about it. You know, that annoying question everyone asks every time you mention your hobby or passion.
For me, it was this:
Me: I like silent movies.
Them: Aren’t those the movies where women get tied to railroad tracks?
Me: … (hits them with bagel)
So I took my frustrations and wrote a blog post on the subject. It remains one of my most popular posts and pulls in a lot of search engine traffic. I like to think some of this traffic is from smartypants who are trying to win an argument by proving that lots of women were tied to railroad tracks in silent movies. Mwahahaha!
If a lot of people believe a myth, a misconception or a rumor then your post will likely draw in traffic and entertain your readers. Everyone likes a good debunking, the popularity of Snopes proves that.
Work on your craft
All of these tips are worthless if a blogger has poor writing skills. A poorly written blog may get traffic but it will not likely get repeat business. How do you improve? Read, read, read and then write, write, write.
Ideas to improve your blogging:
Join a real world writer’s group and get critiqued. This may seem odd for blogging but it is quite effective. Here are some tips on locating a good writer’s group (they are not all created equal).
Ask a fellow writer to exchange critiques one-on-one.
DON’T think that reading your post to your mom, boyfriend, best friend is the same as a critique. It’s not. Unless one of these people is a ruthless editor. In which case, go ahead.
Grab a copy of Strunk & White.
Read your work out loud. It is amazing how many awkward phrases and repeated words you will catch.
Remember, writing can be technically correct and boring as all get-out. Check for flow, rhythm and be prepared to cut if it seems like there are dull bits.
Check your writing with an outsider (someone with little to no knowledge of your topic) to see if it is understandable to a casual reader.
Well, those are just a few of the things that helped me increase my traffic. I hope you enjoyed the article!
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