The Quick-Dirty Guide to Getting Traffic to Blog

I ’m a writer at heart. So I hang out with a lot of writers who are creating awesome things: impressive blogs, high-quality online publica...

I’m a writer at heart. So I hang out with a lot of writers who are creating awesome things: impressive blogs, high-quality online publications, and more.
 Awesome Resources
Except no one’s reading them.

PEOPLE! You can create all the amazing content you want, but if no one knows it’s there, you’re probably not going to see the returns you want. If no one reads what you create, you won’t be able to make money from it. And if you’re hoping to support yourself through your art, you won’t be able to afford to do it much longer if you’re not earning a living.

So for all the writers whose amazing-ness is going unseen, here’s a quick-and-dirty guide to getting eyeballs on your website.
How to get traffic depends in part on your demographic, your niche and how you plan to monetize. But the main components for earning online traffic are pretty similar across the board. They include:

1. Grow a newsletter

This is, by far, the best thing you can do for your site. When you have email addresses, you can go right to where people hang out — in their inbox — rather than waiting for them to find you. If you can email your readers, you will be able to encourage them to visit your site again and again, building a loyal following over time.
So make building your newsletter list your Number One priority. Funnel everyone there. Make it your call to action. Showcase your sign-up form prominently on your site, and in lots of places. Offer a high-value freebie for anyone who signs up. Hell, hit readers with a pop-up if you have to! They might get a bad rap, but pop-ups convert well; on blogs my team and I run, we see a 4-7 percent conversion rate with pop-ups.
Collect emails like it’s your job (because it IS), and share your amazing content with those readers on a regular basis.

2. Be active on social media

Don’t try to be everywhere. Instead, choose two or three channels and maximize the heck out of them. Be strategic about which ones you choose; work the channels that make the most sense for your demographic.
In addition to sharing your own content, share other people’s creations, too. Be generous, and use Twitter’s @mention or whatever the equivalent tag is on the channel you use, so influencers notice you.
If you choose to use Facebook, expect to put some money behind your updates if you want to gain any traction. Otherwise, don’t bother.

3. Optimize your content for search

I’m not talking about the techie kind of SEO, I’m talking about the far-less-scary version, the content kind. The best thing you can do here is optimize your headlines. Use Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends to figure out what terms people are searching for that relate to what you’re writing about, and use them in your headlines. If you don’t even know where to start here, watch my free webinar on SEO for Bloggers.

Don’t write for SEO; instead, write your awesome content and then go back and tweak it so Google will feature you high in search results. If you do this consistently, you will see your organic search traffic increase. As that increases, more people will share your posts, more readers will sign up for your newsletter, and you’ll see a snowball effect on traffic.

4. Get back-links to your site

Building back-links is an SEO tactic, but it requires its own strategy. When other websites link to your site, Google looks favorably on you and ranks you higher in search results. The bigger the publication that links to you, the more Google love you get. As an added bonus, when publications link to you, some of their visitors will hop over to your site, too.
How do you get back-links? Here are a few options:
  • Write guest posts. Write them for free, so long as you get a link back to the site in your bio. Here’s a free webinar that explains best practices for guest blogging.
  • Get press. Convince other outlets to feature your story. One smart way to make this happen is by responding to HARO requests. This guide to HARO from Marian Schembari will help you make it work. Just this week, we did this for one of our clients, which resulted in the company being featured in Inc. Magazine. Truth be told, the magazine didn’t send nearly as much traffic as you’d expect for a major outlet, but that back-link is gold, and even better, the company can now brag that it has been featured on Inc.
  • Encourage organic link-backs. If you offer amazing content and help people notice it through all the avenues we’ve reviewed today, bloggers and publications will link to your content without you asking them. One way to encourage this is by writing a list post that features the best bloggers or resources in your niche. Because when you put someone on your list, it makes them look good, and they want all their friends to know, so they share it with the world… which likely includes a link on their blog. As an example. We compile this for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s a valuable resources for our readers, but it also leads to lots of back-links from websites we included.
When it comes to generating traffic, there’s lots more you can do, of course. But if you find yourself strapped for time, energy and money like many one-woman shops, these are the first bases you should cover.
Oh, and this all assumes you’re creating unique content that’s valuable to your readers, information people want to share with their friends.
Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that if you create great work, people will find it. The truth is, you have to help them find it.
If you don’t push yourself to spend time on promotion, your blog will probably rarely get read.
If you do, your site will gain traction and traffic and influence over time. And that, my friends, will open the door to all sorts of opportunities for your creative endeavors.

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