This is it. This is your year, you say.
You’ve been tossing up the idea of starting a new blog for ages now. You read blogs, you love the idea of blogging, you may even want to earn some extra cash on the side, and you’ve thought “I could totally do that!” You may have even read last week’s post on WHY you should start a blog and found yourself all fired up.
You may even have gone so far as to think of a name, organised a domain, or claimed your social media accounts but something’s always held you back. If one of those stumbling blocks has been thinking “but who will read it? There are so many great blogs out there, how will they even notice me?” (and let’s face it, I think plenty of people feel that way!), then I’m here to help.
How to get traction with your new blog
We all start with zero readers. We all start with zero traffic. Anyone can write a blog, but it’s what you do with it that counts.
Think about who you’d love to read your blog and find out where you think they might be. Then go get yourself noticed!
Assess your social media situation
- Social media is crucial when it comes to finding readers for your blog. The thing is to figure out what kind of social platforms will work for your blog and your potential readers. Want to stick to Facebook and Instagram? Do that. Will LinkedIn and an email list work better for you? Put your attention there.
- Think about whether you need totally new accounts or if you can revamp your existing ones.
- Follow both people who inspire you and people you think will be interested in your content. Engage with them (I can’t stress how important this bit is, but more on that later!). Think about what kind of content will work on these platforms that also represent you and what you’re about. These are the platforms where you share not only your own content, but items you think will be interesting and useful to your followers so they know you’re the real deal and will stick around. And hopefully not just stick around, but recommend you and your blog to their friends!
Call in favours
You’re ready for your blog to be seen – so consider the people you already know who might be interested in what you’re doing, and let them know!
- You can email your first (or favourite) post friends and co-workers who might like your stuff and invite them to read and share with their friends.
- You can share on your personal Facebook and Instagram pages that you’ve taken the plunge into blogland.
- Tell people you meet who might be interested, chat about it at the water cooler or the school gate (or both!), let it be known you’ve started a blog in your conversations – you might be surprised at how many people will be interested and ask more questions about it.
I know, I know, it’s exciting to finally have a blog and you’re keen for everyone to read it. The thing is, over-eagerness can come off as spammy if you’re not careful (don’t worry, we’ve all done it! Just don’t keep doing it!).
Be considerate of how every day, everyone is bombarded with requests to read this, go there, do that. Even you! So put yourself in the shoes of your potential readers and understand what kind of calls to action would suit them. This can be real trial and error so try not to be upset if what you’re experimenting with doesn’t work, you will figure it out! Things to think about include the frequency of your posts on your social channels, your wording, the imagery, how much of it will be your content as opposed to sharing the posts of others, that sort of thing. Don’t just thrust your posts under people’s noses and hope it works.
Every platform benefits from a slightly different approach, so try to make it useful and relevant for each of the audiences you have or are trying to grow in each area.
Join Facebook groups that focus on blogging, or are in the niche you write about. Don’t just spam their wall with your offerings, though – read the rules and play by them. Often there will be a specific day you can share your work, or specific threads in which you can do so. Be a team player and visit some of the other blogs too – don’t just drop your link and run!
Facebook pages almost seem like a law unto themselves, and I’ve spoken to plenty of folk who’d rather avoid it altogether – although they know they shouldn’t. Ignore your potential readers on the biggest social media platform in the world? Not totally a good idea!
Again the key is experimentation here, it’s almost impossible to guarantee a course of action that will work without taking into account your content, your motivation, and your audience. Try different times and different content and monitor the reaction. Do more of what your audience likes!
Instagram is a visual beast, and therefore your blog promotion should suit that. You can use a picture from your blog post to advertise you’ve published one, and don’t forget to make use of Instagram stories to go into further detail – you can scroll through your post, give a brief explanation of what’s on there, and do a behind-the-scenes story about how the post was put together.
Hashtags are a fabulous way of not only sharing your content with like-minded people but also finding new inspiration. The trick is to use them well – they don’t work so well on Pinterest, LinkedIn or Facebook, but are vital on Twitter and Instagram. Don’t spam, don’t hijack hashtags that aren’t relevant to you, and on Instagram, pop the majority of them in your first comment, especially if you’re looking to use the maximum available to you.
Pinterest is exceptionally image-driven, so put your best foot forward on there. Pin your own content and other people’s content to specific boards and re-pin what you like. Join shared boards and abide by the rules of pinning your own content. Pinterest can be a fabulous traffic-driver if you use it well – try reading 4 Ways Pinterest Can Help Drive Traffic to Your Blog.
Find other groups on other platforms you think will be useful. LinkedIn groups, Google Plus Circles, Twitter chats, Pinterest shared boards, forums – I can guarantee you will find places where folk of similar interests gather elsewhere on the blog that you can join.
Again, abide by their rules and avoid the impulse to be spammy. Get to know the people and culture of the group and figure out where you fit in.
Make use of the small spaces
- Your email signature can definitely do with a link to your blog, both your blog’s email and your personal email.
- Your Facebook Page has plenty of places to include a link to your blog, but you might want to add your Facebook Page to your personal profile’s “work” section, which will then show up on your profile, and maybe even let people know in your “Intro” section that appears under your profile picture.
- It goes without saying that a link to your blog in each of your social media bios is vital! But again, think of your personal accounts as well as your blog accounts.
- You can replace your profile photos with your blog logo.
Take care of basic SEO
It sounds frightening to plenty of newbie bloggers, but SEO can be a real boon if you pay a little bit of attention to it straight up.
If you’re on WordPress, you can download a plugin that will help you navigate your way through post SEO – we use Yoast, and it is user-friendly. We also have a resident SEO guru, Jim Stewart of Bloggers SEO, who talks us through the foundations and writes helpful posts decoding the mystery of search engine optimisation here.
But basically, if you want your blog to be found on Google and other search engines, think about they key words of what your blog is about, and also each post. Make sure you use these key words in your post titles, somewhere (naturally) in the post, and in the images of each post. Yoast will help you add a post blurb and will point out places you might have missed.
Blogging is ultimately a community of people, creators and readers alike. It’s people you’re dealing with and in that case, you have to be approachable, open, and personable, not only to your readers, but other bloggers.
Read and interact with other blogs on their platforms and on social media. Leave thoughtful comments that might spark others’ interests enough that they’ll click over and see what you’re about. Be a visible and genuine addition to the blogosphere.
You can join blog linkups or challenges, or start your own. Answer your readers’ comments, and don’t be afraid to share other bloggers’ posts in your posts or on your social media. Getting involved is one of the best, fastest, and most rewarding ways of getting your blog in front of interested people.
A little bit of gumption and old-school hustle will help you find readers for your brand-new blog – almost anything’s possible! But it will make the difference between a lonely blog lost in the vastness of cyberspace, and a thriving hub of like-minded people. And the longer you wait, the longer it will take to put yourself on the map.