Confession: I’ve worked really hard to build my blog since March 2011, and today I’m sharing numbers. After three years of consistently publishing a new post weekly, my blog now averages 1000 – 1200 total page views on Tuesdays, the day after I post. (My all-time high to date: 1700 total page views in a single day.) The rest of the week, total website page views average 700-900+. It varies, but right now I have 1350 email blog subscribers. Thanks to each and every one of you!
In this and upcoming posts, I’m going to share what I’ve learned about building a blog, as well as what I need to learn. One thing I know for sure is that it’s better for bloggers to build an email subscriber list and not encourage RSS feed followers. (Read this post to understand RSS.) Why? Because with an email list, you can use Mailchimp or another vendor to engage with readers – even promote them – and sparingly share blog updates and information about book launches or promotions that will help drive traffic to your site.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing lots of ideas designed to help increase blog traffic and gain subscribers. In this post I’ll share the first five of:
Ten Tips To Increase Blog Traffic And Gain Subscribers
1. Post evergreen content that people want to read
2. Share content across social media sites
3. Use automated tools to promote current and past blog posts
4. Engage the readers that you have – and hope that they will share, too
5. Balance building your blog with promoting
6. Repackage, repurpose existing content and remind readers about it
7. Include calls to action!
8. Ask for and physically collect email addresses
9. Host other bloggers and share guest posts with your blogging colleagues
10. Pay attention to SEO – even if it’s just a little bit
1. Post Great, Useful Evergreen Content People Want to Read
First and foremost, be consistent about writing and posting great, useful content that people are searching the web for. Your intent should be to build a blog that people will relate to and love to share. The core goals of a successful blog are to stay relevant, keep up with trends in your chosen topic range, and know where your readers are spending time online and what they want to know about. Problogger’s Darren Rouse says, “It’s not just about getting people to your site, it’s about sharing information and creating a reputation so people will respect your content when you do share it.”
Note: In August, 2012, I removed the publish date from my blog posts to help keep them “evergreen.” This way, Google won’t show a publish date in search results, and new Twitter and blog followers won’t feel they’re reading dated material. I also update existing posts to keep the information current.
2. Share Content Across Social Media Sites
I currently post to five social media share sites: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Stumbleupon, and Reddit. It’s frankly impossible to track exactly how many subscribers you may gain from social media shares, but the idea here is to promote your content to the widest audience possible in an effort to attract readers who would like to subscribe so they don’t miss a post. Twitter is king for driving blog traffic from tweeted links, and most of the articles I submit to Stumbleupon get a lot of page views. I’ve added a note specifically about Reddit below. Of course, more important than driving one-time readers are readers who return – and eventually subscribe.
Note: Don’t forget to include a “call to action” on each blog post that asks people to share the post across THEIR social media sites! In 5 days alone, Christine Nolfi’s guest post How to Get Your Book Reviewed was shared on Facebook by readers 55 times.
A note about Reddit
Reddit got my attention in July 2012 when someone shared Jane Steen’s Scoop.It! post and the article got 50+ blog views from Reddit in that one day. I think the key is which Reddit subgroup you post to. I’ve been experimenting with the subgroups WritersGroup, blogging, and selfpublish. Unfortunately, though some of my posts get tremendous traffic from Reddit shares, I can’t attribute a lot of new subscribers as a result. Darren Rouse mentioned in a Problogger webinar that he’s not interested in Reddit- generated traffic because the site’s user demographic is fairly young. Whatever the case, you’ll have to try it and see what happens for you. (Hi, Reddit readers, love you!)
3. Use Automated Tools To Promote Current And Past Blog Posts
Retweet past posts! I love the WordPress plug-in “Tweet Old Posts,” and still get blog comments from new Twitter followers who have found my site this way. I simply use the auto-prefix “On my #blog,” which I hope alerts my followers that it’s a past post. RTing older posts is also a service to folks who have written guest posts for me, and I never stop promoting them. You can also pre-schedule Tweets with post titles and links using Hootsuite or Gremln (although Gremln has discontinued its former free service that allowed users to pre-schedule tweets to go out “forever.”)
4. Engage The Readers You Have – They’re Gold
Your current readers are key, so serve them well. Do your best to empower subscribers by asking their opinion on post topics, inviting them to share their experiences and ideas in blog comments, and replying to those comments thoughtfully. Ask subscribers what they want to read about – “Leave me a comment with post suggestions!” Hopefully your posts will excite or inspire visitors so much they’ll want to share your content with their own networks, AND subscribe.
5. Strike a Balance Between Building Your Blog And Promoting It
Darren Rouse also advises bloggers to get off their blog and find readers. How? By understanding how their readers use the web, developing a presence on the sites they frequent – forums, etc – and being useful in these places. His hint: find out where your competitors are spending time. Don’t just leave links. Answer questions, build relationships, be generous with the goal to build authority. Goodreads is a great site for authors to interact directly with readers, and I’ll be working on this myself over the next few months. I’ve begged my generous friend Christine Nolfi to write a post that will instruct us in the ways authors can best use Goodreads. (Watch for this upcoming post!)
My readers would all love to hear about the different social media shares and sites you’ve tried that have driven traffic to your blog. Please leave a comment and let us know what’s worked for you! And don’t miss the follow-up to this post: How To Increase Blog Traffic And Gain Subscribers, Part 2.
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