written by Katie of KatieDidWhat.com
Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been blogging for years, it is 100% likely that you want more pageviews and more people reading your blog.
Below, you will find a bunch of ways that we have personally grown our blogs. There is not really a single tip, or secret thing that can be done to simply increase your numbers. Many of the things explained below will take days, weeks, or an indefinite amount of time to implement and execute.
It’s amazing how much a blog’s design can impact readership. Think of some of your favorite blogs. What do they look like? I’m guessing the majority of them have a clean, simple layout that is easy to navigate. That’s the key to capturing readers.
If people are confused as to what to do when they are on your blog, that is not good. They’re most likely going to leave after reading one page, if you’re lucky.
Take a look at your own blog. Better yet, ask someone else to look at your blog. Ask them to find your email address, or your Instagram page and other things that should be easy to find. Watch how easy or difficult it is for them to do what they want to do. Make changes where you see fit.
Is it easy to share your post on social media? Can people find your Instagram profile quickly, or easily leave a comment on a blog post?
One of the most important things to ask yourself is if people have a place to go on your blog when they’re done reading a post. Installing a related post plugin (for WordPress users) or simply manually linking to a couple of related posts at the end of each post is a great way to keep people on your blog and increase your pageviews. If there’s nothing to do at the end of the post they are reading, what do you think they’re going to do? They’ll leave your blog, that’s what they’ll do.
Along those same lines, having compelling content in your sidebar can be very helpful too. Now, it’s totally fine to have ads there as well, but try and mix in some of your own content. My sidebar usually has several pieces of my own content in it. I have a welcome graphic, my social icons, graphic links to 3 of my most popular pages and an email signup box for this series, all before any ads that would lead readers away from my content. I’m willing to give up some of the revenue I’d be making for clicks to try and improve my relationship with my readers. I want to be sure my best content is right there for them if they want it. This should be your mentality too. Think big here – not $40/month in AdSense big, but 500k pageviews/month big.
Some additional tips that work for me in creating an easy to navigate site for readers:
- Include popular categories and important pages in your top menu. I change mine sometimes, but I always like to include the following: About, Contact and Disclosure pages in addition to my Fashion, Baby and Fitness categories.
- Be sure there is an easy to use archive feature in your sidebar. This allows people to easily find older content. For example, if someone wants to know what we did around Christmas last year, they can easily find it by using my archive dropdown.
- Have a search bar somewhere that is easy to find. Along the same lines as the archives, this gives people an easy way to find what they want.
- My “More Posts” link is big and easy to see. When you scroll to the bottom of a blog’s homepage or category page, you often have the ability to click a “read more” or “more posts” button to see more content. Make sure yours is bigger than 12 pt. font and is easy to see.
It is important that you tackle the design issues with your blog as quickly as you can. Having a good design will make all of the other steps you take much more effective. So, before going any further, clean up your design. At the very least, make sure all of your sidebar images fit, and that nothing is off center or overflowing out of the sidebar. Make sure your menu links are working and lead people to the right place.
Just as important as a good blog design is a good “About” page. If your design is a first impression, your about page is a first handshake. Give people a little (or a lot) about you. How much you’re willing to share is up to you, but a best practice for an “About” page is 300-500 words with several pictures and links (my about page links to 8 other posts/pages on my blog) mixed in. I prefer to basically treat this page like a blog post. You can see mine here for a better idea of what I mean.
In your “About” page, be relatable, humble, interesting and most of all, authentic. Give people a true idea of what to expect from you on your blog. You should also re-read your “About” page every month or so to make sure all of the information is current. An example of why you want to read your own page often is this: mine says (as of 12/4/15) that I am expecting a baby in January 2016. I’m going to want to change that wording soon.
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I’ll add a bit to what was in there though.
There are so many ways to use social media to grow your blog! The main thing I like to tell people is that you should keep it simple and use social media to be, well, social.
Being social includes tagging bloggers and brands when it’s fitting. Being social also means interacting with fellow bloggers in a genuine and authentic way. If you always have an agenda in your interactions, people will pick up on that and it’ll be tough to build a large following. Join a conversation started by a blogger who shares your interests. Respond to questions that others ask on Twitter, or other networks.
One thing that takes the “social” out of social media and really hurts your progress is too much automation. You really have to be careful when you start scheduling out Tweets and other social actions. If the ultimate goal (and it should be) is to get people interacting with your updates, then putting everything on autopilot is a good way to make people think you’re ignoring them.
Additionally, when you schedule updates, it’s easy to get confused. I’ve unfollowed many people who seemed to be using several scheduling services at once, so they would literally send out 3 Tweets about their latest post at the exact same time. Umm, no.
I have nothing wrong with taking half a day, or a day away from social media and scheduling a post or two, but I think too much automation takes away from the ultimate goal of social media – which is to build relationships with readers.
Nothing I’ve talked about above matters one single bit if your blog doesn’t have good content.
Unique, compelling, interesting and authentic content is the backbone of every successful blog. Now, not every post has to be a beautifully poetic stream of words accompanied by photos taken by a professional photographer, but making an effort on every post will go a long way.
Take pride in what you are putting out there. This is true for both the words and photos on your blog.
You don’t need a Canon 5d Mark iii camera to “make it” as a blogger. You simply need to make an effort. If you need to photograph your new makeup products on the floor by the back door because that’s where you have natural light, then so be it! If you have to wait until the golden hour to shoot your latest outfit, then make every effort to get out there just before sundown.
If you’re making an effort, readers will notice (and appreciate) it. On the flip-side, if you’re rushing, or just trying to put out content because you think you should have a new post every day, people will notice that as well.
Please, please, please, proofread. A mistake here and there is bound to happen, but when you have sentnces like ths on yor blog, its obvious you are smply not profreadgin.
You should also make an effort to be consistent with how often you put out content. It’s completely okay to not have a new post every day. What is more detrimental to building a following is putting out 1 post one week and then 6 the next. People like consistency. They want to know that if they come to your blog every Tuesday, your post will be new, or that each weekday you post something new. People like to know what to expect.
Social media isn’t the only place where you can build connections with other bloggers and readers.
You can also utilize message boards to reach people related to your blog’s topic. If you blog a lot about being a new mom, join the forums at Circle of Moms and The Bump. Take part in discussions, add value and mention your blog when appropriate. Be careful not to use these forums as a place of self-promotion. Only link to your blog if it’s adding value to the conversation. If you can add your website URL to your profile page or to your signature, do that too.
This same idea of adding value to a discussion can carry over to commenting on other blogs. If you have something to add to the discussion, or simply want to compliment the blogger, leave a comment. Most blogs will turn your name into a clickable link to your own blog. I get quite a bit of traffic just by commenting on my favorite blogs and having people click my name. There also may be times where you have a post that completely relates to what that blogger just wrote about. Many bloggers are perfectly okay with you leaving a link in your comment to a post that adds to the post or discussion.
Another good way to reach out to other bloggers is to link to them in your posts. If someone links to my blog, I (at the very least) check out their blog. I might also even leave a comment there, or link back to them on my blog at some point. It’s just a good way to make yourself known to other bloggers.
Some blogging platforms let the blog owner know when someone has linked back to them, as it shows up in their pending comments section as a pingback. However, you can also drop the blogger a line and let them know you linked to them. Again, this should be done with no expectations in return. People can smell an ulterior motive from miles away, and it’ll likely result in you getting no love from them. If you’re looking to exchange links, just put it out there and ask!
You could also try emailing a blogger with a question about something they’re writing. Who knows, you might help them with an idea of something to write about and they may even link back to your blog. They might even do it in an email sent to hundreds of other bloggers! 🙂
I’m not done yet!
A few other things that you can do to increase your following and readership:
Write for other blogs: I used to write for larger websites on a regular basis. This has many benefits. I now have more content to link to from my own blog. Additionally, those larger sites generally have author profiles, which let you include a link to your blog and social channels. It only helps your cause to have your words and information in as many places as possible.
Pay for it: I totally realize this may not be feasible for many of you, but running ads is a great way to increase your blog’s traffic. Whether you’re buying ads on other blogs, or running Facebook or Pinterest ads, spending money on targeted traffic can be a great idea.
I don’t recommend running ads on social media unless you have a landing page that gives you a chance for a return on your investment.
For example, if you have an Etsy shop, run ads to get people to come to your blog that introduces your shop. If you have a great resource page with affiliate links to a bunch of your favorite workout clothes, you might try running targeted ads toward that page. The affiliate sales might outnumber the cost of the ads! The key is getting more back than what you’re spending.
I also wouldn’t start doing ads until you’ve got at least $100 to play with. It’s tough to measure success with ads on small amounts of spending.
Guest post: This is when you write a post with new content on someone else’s blog. Generally, it should be a blog somewhat related to yours. This is a great way to reach a related audience and put your content in front of potential new readers. Before you provide a guest post, make sure you’ll get the links you want – whether it’s to your blog or social profiles.
Compelling titles: Creating compelling titles is important, especially if you’re doing some of the above things. If you have good SEO and are showing up high in Google, it’s important to have a title that people want to click on.
The same goes for social media. You want to capture people’s attention and get them to want to click on your blog link. People move through social media feeds quickly, so you don’t get much chance to get their attention – try your best to make those 3 seconds they spend looking at your status count.
It all Comes Down to Work
Increasing your following and blog readership is one of the perpetual challenges of being a blogger. If you get 100 views/month, you want 1000. If you get 100,000/month, you want 200,000. If you… well, you get the picture.
The underlying theme with all of the strategies mentioned above is hard work. None of this is going to be a piece of cake. If it were, I’d be living in a beach house somewhere checking on my blog for an hour every morning and then lying on the beach for the rest of the day.
If this all seems overwhelming, I recommend you focus on one of these things at a time, then slowly work in the others, one-by-one.
The amount of effort you put in to all of this should match up with your goals. If you just want to blog for fun (nothing wrong with that at all), it’s not practical to put in 40 hours a week on your blog. The same way it’s not practical to put in 6 hours/week and expect to grow your blog to something that generates a full-time income.
I’m sure some of what you’ve read above are things you have read before. Don’t you think there’s something to that then? Maybe they just might work. I also do hope you got some new information, or at least a new-found sense or motivation out of this!