Today, we are going to look at ways to increase blog traffic.
Although I am by no means an expert, I have discovered a few things which work well. As of the 23rd of May, my blog is officially one month old. By all accounts, I am still very much a beginner.
During my first month, I had just short of 1500 visitors and 3000 page views. Upon sharing this news on Twitter, a lot of people asked how I had achieved it. So, I’m going to answer that question in this post (get comfortable – it’s a long one).
Full disclosure: I received a £10 credit from Facebook Pages so I was able to put out a couple of ads on there. These brought in around 300 of the views included in this total.
Please be aware that this post contains affiliate links, which are marked with an asterisk. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you purchase the product through my link (yay!). If you would like to know more, please read the full disclosure policy.
1. Work hard
First up, if you’re not willing to give it your all, you need to set your sights lower. This list of ways to increase blog traffic won’t make a difference if you’re not willing to put the effort in. It might seem like a fluke or good luck that I’ve achieved what I have so far, but it wasn’t. I wasn’t just doing this full time, I was doing it ALL THE TIME. We are talking 60+ hours a week. It took over my life. There was a lot of researching, stressing and networking. I’m delighted it’s paying off, but it hasn’t been easy.
I’m aware that the majority of bloggers are doing this alongside other commitments. You may not have the same kind of time to spare as I did, but you can still achieve results in line with the time you have. The point is making those hours count.
The following are some ways you can do that.
2. Comment on other people’s blogs
This is a big one. I’d probably say it’s one of the best ways to increase blog traffic. If nothing else, it makes someone else’s day. Think of how you feel when someone comments on your own posts – you get a little giddy, right? It’s nice to be able to give that to somebody else. Also, I’ve discovered a lot of people are likely to return the favour.
I fit this into my day by replacing an old habit with it. Normally, I wake up in the morning and scroll through Facebook. Instead, I open up my WordPress app, go to the reader and check out people’s posts. I comment on a few. You could try this, too. Alternatively, if you have a commute to or from work where you have the time to do it, squeeze it in then. It’s not possible to keep up with and comment on all the blogs you’re interested in all the time, but try to make sure you are checking in regularly.
If you are commenting on a blog with a similar niche to yours, there’s a possibility their readers could enjoy your blog, too. Their followers will see you are an engaged member of the blogging community. You are willing to read and interact with other’s creations, and this encourages them to want to get to know you.
3. Use Twitter
Twitter is my main source of traffic. There are thousands of other bloggers on there, all looking to give and receive support. Through interacting with them on there, a mutual relationship was formed – I was reading their blogs, so they were reading mine, too.
Here’s a couple of ways Twitter is useful when you’re starting your blog:
Twitter RT accounts
There are accounts on Twitter which are dedicated to sharing blog posts. When you publish new content, share it on Twitter and make sure you tag them. Where possible, they will retweet your links and bring your work to a whole new audience. Here’s some to get you started.
Not sure where to start? You know those Twitter RT accounts I just mentioned? Check out their followers. The majority of people following these accounts will be fellow bloggers, so it’s a good place to find people to follow and connect with.
I love Twitter Chats, because it’s where quite a lot of my blogging buddies have come from! Try to take part in at least one or two a week, if you can. There’s more information on these in this post.
Written about a particular brand/organisation? Tag them in your tweets. Occasionally, they will retweet your posts to their followers! For example, when sharing my first blog post, I tagged mental health organisations because I was hoping they’d share my message. Anxiety UK retweeted it to 20,000 people. It’s not going to happen every time, but you have nothing to lose.
4. Use Pinterest
Pinterest hasn’t been hugely successful for me until recently. The number of visitors coming from Pinterest is slowly starting to creep up. I imagine they are small numbers in comparison to others but it’s enough of a percentage to encourage me to recommend you try it out. I’m starting to see it’s potential!
I use Tailwind* to schedule pins and it makes life a lot easier. I set aside a few hours on a couple of days each week to line up plenty of pins and then I can just forget about it. Occasionally, I do still do some manual pinning during the day if I find myself with nothing else to do, too.
Pinterest groups and Tailwind Tribes are fantastic for increasing your reach, too. Mastering Pinterest would probably require an entire post of its own, so for now, I’ll point you in the direction of the ecourse* which set me on the right track.
5. Join Facebook groups
These have been incredibly helpful for me. They usually have threads where you can share your blog posts, and you can see work from other people, too. So, not only does this allow you to spread the word about your own blog, but you get to discover new favourites. It’s a win-win.
As well as that, it’s a space where it is easy to access help. You can see questions others have asked, or submit one of your own. In the case of GDPR, for example, there was a lot of support across all the Facebook groups I’m in.
Here are some of the ones I’m a member of:
Joining these groups is only the first step. You need to be an active member if you want to reap any rewards. This means not expecting other people to help you unless you’re willing to help them, too. You’ve got to give a little to get a little.
6. Research, research, research
And then research some more. I have read hundreds of articles about blogging. I spent about a week doing this before I even launched my blog. Then, when I was up and running, I continued to research, and I will continue to do so. A lot of them do tell you the same thing but every now and then, you stumble across a little golden nugget of wisdom and it feels worthwhile.
I found them on Google or on Pinterest. As much as I am happy to answer questions and try to help you, I do believe you need to help yourself, too. There’s a difference between not fully understanding something, and just not taking the initiative to look for it. I have worked REALLY hard to get my blog out there and if you want to achieve similar results, you need to do the same. I’d love to tell you there’s a quick fix and you can take a lazy route but, unless you’re really, really lucky, it’s not going to happen.
7. Be kind
Trampling all over others may get you where you want to be quicker, but it’s also going to make you very lonely. If you play the follow/unfollow game on Twitter or Instagram, you might end up with thousands of followers but are any of them going to be interacting with you? You need to make a real effort to connect with others.
I am first in line to be a personal cheerleader for others. This isn’t because I want them to do something in return, but because I want to see them do well. I want to encourage, support and motivate my fellow bloggers. It’s probably this attitude which has done me the most favours, although it was never done with that intention.
Don’t do it in anticipation of getting something in return; do it because it feels right. In my case, I’d reach out to people who were feeling a bit down and see if they needed to chat. If I noticed someone was struggling with something on their blog, I’d send them an article to help them. At least 50% of my time in the first month has been helping other people. This wasn’t done with the expectation of them looking at my blog in return. If anything, I just wanted to make friends. Yet, because they felt compelled to do something in return, they’d often read my blog, or share it on their own social media.
Think of how you’d like to be treated and bear in mind you never know when you’ll need help.
8. Be yourself
This was the hardest one for me, but it was something I set my mind to doing right from the start. Be unapologetically you. Share your own thoughts and opinions. Discuss your own interests. Don’t try and copy what everyone else is doing. It won’t feel natural to you, and it won’t come across well to your readers.
For example, I wrote about my cat. I hadn’t seen others doing this (although, I’m sure they have.) It made me nervous because I thought it would just come across as crazy cat lady-ish and no one would take me seriously. Then, I pushed all those thoughts to the back of my mind and did it anyway. I love my cat, and I wanted to share it with my readers. So, I did it, and people loved it.
Equally, on Twitter, I stopped censoring myself all the time. If I had something I wanted to say, I typed it out and shared it. No more questioning what others would think. I replied to people and said what I wanted to say. Nothing was particularly controversial. In fact, more often than not, it was me replying to people to say I knew how they felt, that they weren’t alone and that I was rooting for them. However, I wouldn’t have done this in the past, in case I came across as weird or made people uncomfortable. I forgot about all of that. I started typing out replies to people and pressing send. There was no more over analysing. It is not an easy skill to master, but try it. You’ll find others respond well to it, which encourages you to do it more.
Ultimately, people worth having in your life are going to support you and like you for who you are. Even if they don’t agree with everything you say, they can have a discussion about it without shutting you down. You need to get a handle on the fact that not everybody is going to like you. Yet, for the one person who isn’t keen on you, there could be ten who think you’re brilliant. You won’t find those people if you’re hiding behind a mask. Understanding this makes it a lot easier to be yourself and put yourself out there. Getting there is the tricky part but you can do it!
9. Break some rules
In line with being yourself, you need to be aware you are going to find a lot of suggestions that might not work for you. Ignore them. Trust your instincts.
Almost every article I read told me I needed to decide on a niche before I started writing. I didn’t do this, and I was terrified it would mean I would fail. The truth? Nobody seems to care. I write about what I want and people read it and seem to enjoy it. I think the opposite is probably true in my case – if I’d picked a niche, I would have been struck by writer’s block because it was restrictive and never published a single post. I’d like to think people come to my blog because they like me.
Megan gave me the best advice: if you really want to pick a niche, go with lifestyle, because it pretty much covers everything. If you don’t have a clue yet, just write. You can hone your niche further down the line, or have a few niches covered in one blog. You’ll notice a lot of bloggers have a crossover between several niches.
Most bloggers I came across had a themed Instagram. It looks amazing, but it’s not something I wanted to do. It would have only put me off posting on Instagram because it would have required too much thought and effort. My Instagram is a mix of all the things in my life I love, and I like it that way.
Similarly, I was told on a few occasions to only pin things on Pinterest which were relevant to my niche and to keep any irrelevant boards secret. I ignored that and made a public cute animals board to cheer up myself and anyone else who needed it. So far, I haven’t noticed it be particularly damaging. (And, really, why would it – who doesn’t love cute animals?!)
You don’t need to do everything exactly the same way as someone else to be successful. You need to find what works for you and go with it.
So, that’s 9 ways to increase blog traffic but now it’s tough love time
Anyone can start a blog but not everyone can do it well. If you’re already doing these things and don’t feel as though you’re getting anywhere, I’d recommend taking a long, hard look at your content. Is it consistently good quality? Is your spelling and grammar up to standard? Do your posts have a point? Even my post about my cat became a list of reason cats are amazing so I could appeal to cat lovers in general. There’s no harm in keeping a diary of your daily life if that’s what your blog is for, but don’t expect lots of people to want to read it. Harsh as that sounds, it’s the truth.
Readers engage with things which make them feel something, or which helps them. If you’re describing a trip to the supermarket, nobody is going to care, unless you share your bargains or something of interest which happened on that occasion. You have to be willing to try and provide useful information for those reading your blog or be willing to lay all your emotions out there. I’ve written about personal things, and plan to do so again in the future, because it’s how I connect with others. Then, other times, I’ll write something like this which is done with the sole intention of helping people on their blogging journey. You need to provide something for your readers if you want them to come back.
If you’re confident in your content and you put the work in, you’ve got a pretty good chance. It might just take a little longer than you would like. Stick with it, and focus on your own journey. Comparing yourself to everyone else is the most damaging thing you can do, both for yourself and your blog.
The best way to know if blogging is a good fit for you is to try it, but I want you to realise that, just because a lot of people are giving it a go, it doesn’t mean it’s easy, or that you will be an instant success. It requires a lot of work and even more patience. Everyone’s journey is different. While these things have worked for me, I can’t guarantee they will work for you, but they won’t harm your chances.