Those that have been following my blog for a little while now will know that a couple of months ago I offered a limited number of free blog consultations. The process was even more successful than I imagined and I had great fun getting to know you and your blogs better - it's been so exciting to watch you make some really exciting steps forward with your online presence.
At the start of each consultation I asked the same question:
What do you want from your blog?
The response I receive time and time again to this question was , unsurprisingly, I want more traffic.
Traffic can be the bane of a blogger's life. It can be all to easy to constantly check our metrics watching the sometimes painfully slow trickle of readers come in. It can be really disheartening to find that the piece of content you stayed up through the night excitedly putting together has been viewed 15 times and your uncertain if some of these views are actually your own.
However, a bad relationship with traffic is a sure-fire way of falling into some really damaging strategies that will harm your blog’s growth, I've put together a few mistakes to avoid when it comes to you and your blog’s relationship with traffic.
(How do I know these mistakes? I've made them all myself. In fact my growth during the first few years I spent blogging in another niche was stunted by a bad relationship with my traffic. I don't want you to have the same experience because building an online presence should be exciting and rewarding, not continually disheartening!)
Avoid the ‘hamster wheel’ approach
The hamster wheel approach is what defined my first years blogging - it’s when as creatives trying to build our online presence we get caught up desperately repeating the same tasks again and again, working ourselves into the ground and still failing to get anywhere.
As a newbie blogger I noticed that each time I posted a new piece of content onto my site there was a spike in my traffic for that day as people came to my blog to read the new article. When I stopped posting for any period of time my traffic was almost non existent.
Not entirely unreasonably, I assumed that to increase my traffic I needed to post more content. So that's what I did. I posted more and more content, every single day of the week, trying to get these hits of traffic. I beat myself up for missing a days post but even when by some miracle I managed to stick to the schedule I'd created for myself , I still wasn't really seeing the results I dreamed about. Sound familiar?
The truth is this approach is wrong on so many counts!
01. It’s not sustainable
Forcing yourself to churn out content at an unnatural rate is a sure-fire way of reaching blogger burnout. Whilst I managed to post daily for a couple of weeks at a time, these periods of activity were followed by another couple of weeks of silence where I'd simply push the little ball of stress my blogging had become to the back of my mind.
02. It leads to rushed content
I'm also a firm believer that the hamster wheel approach leads to content for the sake of content. In the online world you are defined by the content that you share, don't let the poor quality content you scrambled together the night before define what you have to offer your audience.
03. It limits your reach
This is the biggie. If the horrible blogging experience wasn't enough to put you off, the hamster wheel approach doesn't even deliver on the results it promises.
Want to know why?
After some time I realised I wasn't seeing real growth because I was reaching out to the same pool of people again and again (those that had followed me on Bloglovin, the feed reader that I relied upon at the time). As I put all my efforts into posting new content and connecting with the audience I already had, I was putting my growth in the hands of a few loyal readers who, if I was lucky, would share my content gaining me a couple more readers here and there. Hardly a strategy to reach the masses!
So what’s the alternative?
01. Create evergreen content
Instead of busting a gut to produce content for the sake of content on a daily basis, I began to create evergreen content, that is, content that lasts and that I could promote again and again.
For example this blog post is not time dependant, there are always going to be people struggling to increase their blog's traffic. The joy of evergreen content is that you can put in a bulk of time creating it today and then you can reap the rewards again and again as you continue to promote it and new readers continue to find it useful.
(If you're serious about creating evergreen content you might want to consider taking the dates off your blog posts. Having a date on your post might encourage people to believe that the information is out of date even if it’s still as kick ass and valuable as it was the first day you hit publish.)
02. Promote the sh** out of the content you've already created - (see below)
Simply publishing your content is NOT enough!
Ever read that if you publish great content the traffic will sort itself out? - I see this cliche blogging advice time and time again and, whilst I'm sure it's meant well, this kind of advice can lead to wasted efforts and disappointment for those trying to get their online space off the ground.
The truth is if you're really serious about building a successful online presence, simply hitting the publish button and casually sending out a tweet every now and then is NOT enough.
According to Digital Buzz, there are 2 million blog posts posted every day. 2 MILLION.
With such large quantities of information on the web, how do you expect your content to be found if you don’t let them know that its there. In order to see real growth in your blog you need to spend double the amount of time you spend creating content, promoting the evergreen content you've already created.
( N.B. before you start sobbing into your keyboard, this is not as much hard work as it sounds. It's all about organising your process so that you can blog smarter and not harder.)
Here’s some of the super effective methods I use to get my content in front of new readers on a daily basis:
Collaborating with other bloggers is my favourite way to share my content with new audiences. Whilst it can be initially terrifying, getting to know other creatives and their audiences is endlessly rewarding.
There are lots of ways in which you can collaborate with other bloggers but my personal favourite which has seen my following grow exponentially is guest posting . In the last month I've seen my email list grow 7x over!
02. Social media
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. It can be an enormous time drain if used improperly but, once you've got a system in place, it's a great way of keeping your old evergreen content alive and introducing your message to new audiences.
I'm a firm believer in quality over quantity when it comes to social media. Owning one platform that is right for you and your audience is infinitely more effective than trying to juggle multiple platforms at a time.
My favourite social media platform for promoting evergreen content is Pinterest. I like Pinterest because pins are evergreen themselves, they don't fly past your screen at 100 mph like a tweet but sit in your boards for new readers to peruse.
03. Don’t publish content too frequently
You might be thinking - how can posting frequently possibly be a bad thing?!
The truth is if you’re posting too frequently on your blog you won’t have time to promote your content both old and new to your full potential - if you're not promoting to your full potential you're wasting the hard work you've put into creating in the first place.
Traffic isn’t your most important metric!
Whilst I used to obsessively check my traffic on a daily basis, today I couldn't tell you my traffic stats off the top of my head because thankfully it's no where near my highest priority.
This is because traffic for the sake of traffic is useless - as an online creative it gets you nowhere.
If you’re starting to really take your online presence seriously, particularly if you are looking to monetise your site, the only metric you should be interested in is your email list.
If your new to this idea, I've written a crazy detailed guest post ( yes I really do love guest posting! ) on why you need to start an email list TODAY over on Rebecca's blog
(the short summary:
email lists are the bomb because
- they provide consistently higher conversions than social media
- they cultivate a group of your ideal readers
- they make selling a product easy peasy lemon squeezy
- you're in control ( your email list is not going to do a Myspace) )
Want to start growing your email list with guest posting?
I've taken all the guesswork out of it with my Ultimate Guest Posting Checklist which you can download for free!