If you’ve been reading my blog this year – especially my blog traffic reports – you probably know that I’ve been trying different tools to grow my blog. In order to find tools that really work, I decided to focus on one tool specifically each month. This way, I would know what worked and what didn’t, and really give each tool a good chance to work. Now that we’re at the end of the year, I want to look back and discuss each of these tools, what I did with them, and whether or not they worked so that you can figure out what is going to help you to grow your blog traffic. Spoiler: as long as I really worked hard on it, it worked. It’s the times that I didn’t focus on them that they didn’t work.
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January: Setting Images up for Pinterest Success – As any blogger has heard, Pinterest can be a huuuuuge source of traffic. Like, it’s responsible for 40% of my traffic in 2017. But unfortunately, you can’t post any old image and just automatically bring in traffic from Pinterest. I spend January making sure my blog photos were good quality images, great sizes for Pinterest (at least 600px wide and tall), linked to my blog post, had a title on the image (especially because now Pinterest doesn’t usually show descriptions now), had descriptions in the title and alt text, were scheduled to be posted at optimal times according to Tailwind, and scheduled to post on multiple boards. This really helped my traffic, and has continued to do so the entire year. If you’re interested in the amazing scheduler that is Tailwind, check out my posts on why it is worth the money and how to get the most out of Tailwind for Pinterest.
February: Headlines – Having the right headline for your blog post can really affect how many people check out your posts. It was important to me that I write titles that would make people want to read the post but that weren’t clickbait; I don’t want the title to show a different post than the content does. I don’t know about you, but I hate when I click on a post or video and it turns out it had a clickbait title! So I worked on writing catchy titles that make people want to read the post and insuring the post lives up to the title. This has worked out really well for me!
March: Content Upgrades – This refers to free downloads, and these are great ways to get blog traffic and to get people to sign up for your mailing list. I try to alternate free downloads that don’t require signing up and those that do because I don’t want to benefit only the people who sign up for my mailing list and besides, content upgrades that don’t require people signing up can still bring blog traffic. I’ve currently hit a bit of writer’s block for free downloads, so I’ve had fewer in recent months, but hopefully that will change and I’ll be able to make more in 2018.12 Blog Traffic Boosting Tools To Try Click To Tweet
April: Repurpose Old Content – This was a lifesaver for me! April was the busiest part of my semester because I had finals in addition to my regular work for the end of the semester. Repurposing old content (aka taking posts that I wrote a long time ago and reposting them with new material, usually making them longer and more helpful) was perfect for this time of the school year. I’ve written over 800 posts over the last 5 years, and the posts from the first 2 years were generally shorter and not all that helpful as they were, so it was great to take those and make them better. It also helped because, as I mentioned, I was very busy with school; repurposing old content meant that I didn’t have to write brand new posts from scratch.
May: Write a Series – Okay, so, full disclosure, I didn’t do this as well as I would like. The end of the semester and my health after it (I was gearing up for my second knee surgery) were not conducive to working on the blog. However, I do think that if you choose to write a series, you need to make sure it’s one that people will want to read all the different posts that make it up. You can’t just pick a topic at random and write a series about it. One that I’m thinking of doing in 2018 is an updated version of my all-time favorites series. I did this series in 2015 (maybe 2014?), and it’s time to update it. That series is a series of, you guessed it, my all-time favorite things, including clothes, makeup, books, and more. Those are the types of posts that you guys tend to read, so I know that you would read them. If you are going to write a series, you need to make sure it’s one you audience would read.
June: Write Longer Posts – I’ve heard over and over that longer (and higher quality) posts are necessary in order to get more readers. This is for a number of reasons. 1) These posts are better for SEO because you’re more likely to use your SEO keyword frequently, making it show up more in search engine results. 2) Writing longer posts enables you to really instruct someone on something. You can go into all the nitty-gritty details on your topic. 3) You can tell a story and not just somewhat-connected anecdotes. I worked on writing longer posts for the couple of weeks that I was online – my knee surgery was the middle of the month – and those were more successful posts.
July: Try Different Types of Posts – When you’ve been blogging for a while, it’s easy to get stuck in a comfort zone with your topics and your writing style. I decided to do more fashion posts and a more controversial post than usual. These were my most popular posts from the month! Obviously trying different types of posts could go either way (no views or all the views), but if there’s a post you’ve always wanted to try, it can’t hurt to write it and see how your audience responds. Another idea is, if you already have a mailing list, you could try writing one of those different posts and sending it to your newsletter. That way, you can test how your audience responds to that topic.
August: Collaborate with Other Bloggers – I’ve loved doing this! It’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and reduce the amount of writing you have to do in a post. What I’ve done is post a message on one or two of the Facebook groups I’m a part of and share the post idea I have and ask people to send me their submissions, and I always include links to their blog and one or two social media account. Sometimes, these people share the post, but that’s not the reason why I do these posts. Like I said, these are great ways to collaborate with other bloggers. Some examples of these posts: Best Books To Read Right Now, Holy Grail Beauty Products According to Bloggers, and So You Were Diagnosed with a Chronic Illness: What You Should Do Next.
September: Shareable Content – I struggled with this to a certain extent because I always try to create content that people will want to share, but if you don’t focus on that too much, it’s definitely a good thing to try. This is also where good headlines can make a difference! Not sure where to start? Check out these posts: How To Increase Shares on Your Blog Posts, The Art of Creating Shareable Content for Your Blog, and How To Create Viral Content.
October: Use Twitter To Grow Your Blog – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Twitter. Words are my favorite, so Twitter is my favorite social media traffic. But is it great a building traffic? I think it is, but part of its usage comes from building an audience. If you don’t have any followers, it’s not going to be as useful as if you already have 500 or 1,000 or 10,000. I already share each blog post at least 10 times after it has been posted (the day it goes up, a few days later, 1 week later, 2 weeks later), but in this month, I also optimized my profile and more. While my blog traffic didn’t grow dramatically, working on Twitter doubled how much of my traffic was from Twitter, so is definitely worth it. Read all about what I did for Twitter here.
November: Update Old Blog Posts – This is another great tool if you have a lot of older blog posts (think 6+ months). You could update them in the repurpose-old-blog-content way or you could update them with calls to action like mailing list signups or with links to similar blog posts. Since I have so many old blog posts, I looked at my Google Analytics data to see what the 20 most popular posts were for the past year, and then I updated those. This drove more mailing list signups and traffic. It’s super helpful!
December: Gift Guides – If you read other blogs, you’re probably super familiar with gift guides. Some bloggers do them for every holiday, others for only some. Per usual, I started mine the week or so before Thanksgiving and posted them up to the 15th of December. I always try to do some blog posts that might be different from other bloggers’ posts, not because I don’t like what they’re doing (I do) but because I don’t want to write posts that everyone else is writing. I also did something new for me this year: a Cyber Monday gift guide based on the sales, and I did this the Friday before Cyber Monday so I wasn’t one of a ton of bloggers doing similar posts on the same day. Lots of other bloggers do sale blog posts, but I had never done one, and now I understand the appeal. This brought me a ton of traffic! So you can bet that I’ll be doing those posts more often, but don’t worry: I won’t do them for every big sale out there.
One thing I also want to say about all of this is I tried to continue doing each thing in the months afterwards. Aka, I didn’t stop using Twitter for blog traffic after October. Once something has worked for you, keep at it. Also, I’ve gone and decided on the tools I’m going to try in 2018, so my quest to find amazing traffic boosting tools hasn’t ended yet!
What tools have you used to grow your blog? Have they worked?
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