Setting the Foundations for Growing Your Blog
Doing a blog post like this has always made me feel a bit wary. I don’t necessarily boast the huge monthly views of the larger, more accomplished bloggers, but after a concerted effort to put more focus on growing my blog, I’ve started to see progress and above all, movement. Any growth is growth after all and I can only hope that advice from someone who doesn’t find it at all easy would perhaps be meaningful to those fellow bloggers who share the same struggles as me; I sometimes feel like I’m a late bloomer in pretty much all aspects of my life!
I should probably put it out there that there isn’t a magic solution to it all. Whilst many have shared their success stories of a particular platform boosting their views in the thousands, there’s essentially a lot more to it than that and you can’t really skip setting the foundations for growing your blog. Nor is there any escape from hard work and perseverance and if you are struggling with this aspect, then my previous post on some motivational tips and advice should help.
However, compared to what was a period of stagnation, I am starting to feel like that hard work is paying off in terms of overall traffic to my blog. And whilst that may be in small doses, it’s restored my faith in the process. So whether you are new into the game or maybe you also need something to help restore your faith, read on for what I think are some essential tips for growing your blog the organic way:
It goes without saying that if you want people to come to your blog, you need to put out good quality content. To do this you need to establish your unique selling point i.e. what you excel at or what you can offer that people want to know and read about.
For the people that are interested in what you have to say, as well as attracting new followers, you need to build that consistency – so keep doing the best that you can do.
There may be thousands of bloggers that are sharing similar content to you, but that doesn’t matter. Just focus on your work and you will develop that authenticity that people appreciate.
Also, it’s about being proud of what you have. The more proud you are of your work, the more motivated you will be to continue driving it forward.
Don’t be Afraid of Change
So whilst perfecting your craft is key, I also think that as you grow as a person, so too should your content. It’s therefore important that the content you produce is in line with you and your changing tastes, experiences and situations. Otherwise you start to lose momentum and growing your blog appears like an uphill struggle.
You may still be sticking to what you do best, but even something as simple as changing your layout can give your blog and your attitude towards it a new lease of life. At the start of the year, I changed my blog design and post layouts and I feel like this has played a part in the recent growth I have experienced. Above all, my blog is now a better reflection of the grown up me three years on from blogging – it’s even motivated me to put out more lifestyle related content and advice posts like this.
Make Sure Your Site is Easy to Navigate
Whoever and however you decide to approach your blog design, my number one recommendation would be not to over-complicate it.
Be creative with the design by all means, but it needs to be easy to navigate. I come across thousands of gorgeous blogs and then there are some where I can’t seem to click on the post to read it. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to layout but again growing your blog means having a website that is not only reflective of your personal style, but is functional too. This ensures that people will come back for more.
The best way to look at it is to go back to the purpose of your website and then work all the other elements that you want around this to help enhance what is ultimately your brand. There are many inexpensive options for blog design and layout templates and my personal favourite and highly recommended is Pipdig.
Visuals are Important
From how your blog looks and feels, to your photography, visuals help with increased levels of engagement. It keeps people interested, thus drawing readers to your blog. However, it should enhance your written content, not replace it.
Engage With Other Bloggers
Whether it’s commenting on other blog posts, or joining networks, engaging with other bloggers is important. It’s commonplace to leave your blog link too and is justified so long as you are leaving genuine and meaningful comments. Also, take the time to reply back to your comments. Not only does this show that there is a person behind the blog, but it also demonstrates appreciation and encourages your followers to trust your voice. Remember, you need to give back what you expect from others.
Be consistent and find platforms that enable you to follow your favourite bloggers so that you can build relationships, which should hopefully translate into frequent visitors to your blog. My favourite is Bloglovin. It allows you to group your favourite blogs into categories and I find this so much easier.
I also encourage you to actively find new bloggers to follow that are not only within your niche, but outside of your niche too. I always dedicate time to this process and since I love reading blogs, it’s not a tedious task. It’s also your biggest source of inspiration and research so treat it with care and dedicate a significant portion of time to this.
A Few Reminders
People need to be able to find where they can comment with ease. At the end of a post and reasonably visible is the norm.
Make it easy for people to comment on your blog. Too many rules or a long-winded process can deter people. My personal favourite is Disqus.
If you are leaving your blog link, make sure it works and directs people back to your blog. In fact, a little housekeeping every so often wouldn’t hurt.
Promote on Social Media
Most bloggers are active on social media but these platforms can sometimes just work in silos without necessarily attracting followers to your blog as well. I personally find this with Instagram – I have the most number of followers here compared to any other platform, yet it ranks pretty low in terms of volume of traffic to my blog. However, as a collective, being active on social media is key, especially when you use it to promote your blog and its content.
I use TweetDeck to schedule my “promotional” tweets which saves a lot of time. When it comes to Pinterest, I do find that the Tailwind App is useful in that it allows me to schedule pins in advance as previously I was extremely sporadic with the process. However, with Tailwind I haven’t seen crazy growth like some report, but I have seen movement and of all the social media platforms I am on, Twitter and Pinterest drive the most traffic to my blog even though my follower count is quite low here. This proves that a large number of followers only tells part of the story.
Whether you choose to concentrate on one platform or several, pay attention to your stats and keep a balance between engagement and promotion.
I feel like I was late to join the party when it came to SEO optimisation and should have incorporated the techniques when I first started blogging. Since I don’t regard myself as particularly savvy when it comes to the world of SEO, I’ve found the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress incredibly useful. Not only does it guide you through the process, but it’s been one of the key factors in my increased blog views. Also, something I neglected to pay attention to was that most of my traffic comes from searches, so to focus on improving my SEO only made sense.
If you are serious about growing your blog then I would get on board with SEO techniques. You don’t even have to be a complete whizz at it but being more aware of your titles, how you name your images, using headings and of course focus keywords as well as how well your blog reads, will only be improving your blog and increasing your chances of showing up in searches.
A Sensible Schedule
Lastly, to avoid that feeling of going back to square one again, maintaining a sensible blogging schedule is important, even if it’s just once a week. Having the odd break here and there isn’t going to be the end of the world, but if your schedule is too sporadic, you are not giving yourself the opportunity to grow in the long run.
Think about what fits your lifestyle as well as your strategy. Growing your blog doesn’t necessarily mean you have to post daily – I post every Wednesday and then every alternate Sunday and I find this works fine for me.
Ultimately, growing your blog organically takes time. To hear that you just need to keep at it can be frustrating but that really is the truth. Above all, be consistent in your approach and keep doing the best that you can do whilst dedicating time to the other ancillary activities that come with maintaining a blog. It is a collective effort of a number of tasks and processes that contribute to growth.
I hope you found this useful and would love to hear your thoughts. x