Having a blog is fun – you get to write about whatever you want and essentially own a corner of the internet. But how do you actually get people to read your blog? And then keep reading? All while staying true to your brand? This is one question I’ve received time and time again, so here are my tips for how to grow your blog traffic consistently.
Start with a Reader Friendly Blog Design
It doesn’t matter how good your content is, if your site is difficult to read, people will not read it. Have you ever gone to a blog that had a million ads, pop ups, and wanted you to scroll through 17 slides just to read a post (aka trying to inflate their page views)? Bet you didn’t go back there ever again. People are visual, so a clean, appealing, and easy to use blog design is the first step towards growing your traffic. Use your menu to highlight your blog categories and quickly give first time visitors a sense of the different kinds of content you provide. Having a long list of your blog archives or a tag cloud in the sidebar is sooo 2014, please don’t do it! Since many people also now read blogs on their mobile devices, make sure that yours looks good on both a desktop and a phone.
Over the past 3 years I’ve played around with different blog layouts and themes, and I don’t think there is only one layout or theme that guarantees blog success. My favorite places for themes are StudioPress (wide range of themes for almost any kind of site), Restored 316 (a Christian brand with feminine blog themes), and Pipdig (minimalist but super functional perfect for fashion/beauty/lifestyle bloggers).
Collaborate & Guest Post
A great design may keep people from clicking away from your site, but how do you get them there in the first place? One strategy is to contribute articles as a guest blogger on websites that have a larger following than your own. Think of your favorite blog in your niche – do you see different author names in article bylines? If so, shoot the website editor an email offering to contribute a post. When I used to have guest bloggers here, the people who were most likely to get published were those who pitched an idea that was not already covered on the blog, so make sure you do your research to see what kind of content is missing. I myself wrote for Black Girl Long Hair as a monthly contributor for about two years, and I still get a good chunk of referrals from that site.
Pro Tip: When posting on another person’s blog, link to some of your best content to maximize the clicks back to your site!
While it can be tempting to solely reach out to larger blogs as a way to broaden your audience, I’ve gotten loyal blog followers by collaborating with other bloggers that have a similar size following. Why’s that? Websites with tons of traffic sometimes don’t have a loyal following, or they republish so many guest articles that yours may get lost in the mix. By doing a giveaway, post swap, or collaborative post (for example, both people style the same shoes and link to each other’s photos) with another blogger a lot like yourself, you can end up sharing a couple of the same readers.
Promote Your Work
I know we’re all humble people who don’t like to boast about our accomplishments, but you have to sell your blog every chance you get. I mean, how often are you on Facebook and you share a random article that you liked? Now how often do you share the things you write on your own blog?
I know you’ve spent all your time coming up with a great story, taking dope pictures, and proofreading for grammatical errors, so once you hit publish you feel like you’re done. Nah boo! Share that post on all your social media platforms. And then share it again in a week. And again in a month. I won’t go into tons of details about the best time to post on various social media channels but do your research or get an automated scheduler (I use CoSchedule) that will do the hard work for you.
Gotta hit em with the ring shot ? And here’s that post if you missed it.
One of my most liked pictures ever! Best believe that post got tons of views.
You will have to get creative in how you share your content – for example I never post blog graphics on Instagram even if I’ve created one for a blog post. Nobody likes my graphic pictures on the gram. Thug tear. But I will surely post a selfie and in the caption tell people to go read my new blog post about xyz with the good ole #linkinbio reminder. I’ve also started seeing a lot of bloggers promote their new blog posts in Instagram stories (which I need to do more of), giving viewers a sneak peek of the content. And yes it is important to have accounts of various social media platforms because the fact of the matter is that the kinds of people who follow your Facebook brand page may be completely different from your Snapchat followers, and you are trying to reach as many people as possible.
You’re probably thinking, ok, I will share my post with my Facebook friends and maybe on Twitter and IG, but if you’re not sharing your work on Pinterest then you. are. not. yet. serious. about. that. blog. life! One of the most eye-opening nuggets of wisdom I heard last year is to stop thinking about Pinterest as a social media platform; Pinterest is a search engine! After reflecting on my own usage of the site, I realized that I definitely go to Pinterest rather than Google to search for specific recipes (and let’s not get into all of my wedding-related searches). So Pinterest is a powerful tool to share your content so that people can find it – learning optimal Pinterest strategies is another beast, but definitely something worth researching up on because the rewards are worthwhile.
This section is already long, but don’t forget to promote your work within your work. Add links to related (heck, or even unrelated) content within blog posts like I’ve done a few times here, and/or have a related posts widget below your blog post. You definitely want people to read multiple posts while on your site, so if they happen to land on your crochet braid tutorial from Pinterest, keep them engaged by enticing them with a link to a post on crochet braid patterns or your husband’s thoughts about your hair or even your favorite shoes if you can make it work into the post!
Don’t forget the power of real-life promotion as well. How many people do you meet each week? Whenever you introduce yourself, get comfortable with saying, “hi my name is Ijeoma, and I am a PhD student. I also have a blog called IjeomaKola.com that talks about hair, fashion, and lifestyle.” Hand them a blog business card or three and tell them to check it out! You might meet readers this way, but you might also meet brand representatives who may want to collaborate with you on a story.
At the end of the day, people will come read your blog if you have interesting content (both written and visual). What does your site contribute to the blogosphere? How is it different from others? What new perspective do you add to the mix? What problem(s) are you solving? If you can’t answer these questions clearly, consider taking a break from posting new content until you hone in on your blog’s purpose.
With all these tips, you might be tempted to do a blog design overhaul, publish five posts tomorrow, and share them all fifteen times on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. All you’re going to do is annoy your current readers whose notifications will be blowing up, and likely burn yourself out. Blogging is not a competition, quality always trumps quantity, and copying someone else’s work or style will only get you so far. Be honest, real, transparent, and consistent in producing great content and your audience will come.
If you found this post helpful, please save it for later and share it with someone!
Stock Images via Minimography.