One of the main reasons bloggers stop blogging is lack of traffic: at some point, they get tired of being the proverbial tree in the forest, making sounds nobody hears.
We’re here to help. No list of advice can guarantee your blog’s success, but it’s important to be aware of the most critical elements at play. Five dos, five don’ts: give them a try.
- Write regularly. Producing fresh content on a regular basis is essential. First, it makes your blog more appealing to search engines, which means new readers are more likely to find you. Just as important, it creates a sense of loyalty among the readers you already have, who know you won’t be stranding them for weeks at a time.
- Write well. What makes a post engaging, moving, or entertaining is clearly a matter of opinion. What’s not a matter of opinion? Correct spelling. Reasonable grammar. Sentences and paragraphs of manageable length. Go over your post, spellcheck, and edit — above all — for clarity. (A strong title never hurts, either.)
- Keep your blog easy on the eyes. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, unattractive blogs are surprisingly easy to spot. Some minimal care can pay great dividends, even if you don’t have time to think of every possible detail. Choose a theme that suits your needs and your content. Make your homepage attractive with striking images or easy customizations, and make sure your content is easy to read.
- Use your existing network. As a beginning blogger, you should rely on friends and family to visit your blog and share your posts on their own social networks (use common sense to decide how often and how insistently you ask them). Keep them informed by publicizing your posts, and keep them interested by addressing, at least at first, topics you know they’ll enjoy.
- Create new networks. The blogging community is immense. The best way to find your own niche within it is through meaningful reciprocity. Follow and leave thoughtful comments on others’ blogs, and take the time to respond to feedback left on your own site. Use widgets to make it easy to follow and syndicate your own blog. Participate in events, or attend a blogging conference to make new friends and learn new tips.
- Don’t forget to tag. Unless you’re already a famous entity offline, readers won’t search specifically for your blog. That’s why smart tagging is so important: add a healthy mix of general and specific terms related to your post, and your potential audience will find you, either through search engines or on the WordPress.com Reader.
- Don’t spam. Community members and search engines alike are quite savvy in telling thoughtful content from fluff. One-word comments? A blog full of pingbacks and reblogs with very little original content? There is no surer method of pushing your audience away, even if your intentions are good.
- Don’t be afraid of the Publish button. The only post guaranteed to attract zero traffic is an unpublished one. Don’t worry too much about posts that ended up different from your initial vision. At worst, you can edit and update them later. At best, their shortcomings, if any, can be part of the conversation you start with your readers. Either way, what could you possibly lose?
- Don’t stop reading. Writing that exists in a vacuum will be less appealing to readers who don’t already know you. Whether it’s a new bestseller, other blogs and sites around the web, or the great content we feature daily on Freshly Pressed, staying part of existing conversations keeps your content relevant, and will engage a wider audience than an entirely impenetrable musing.
- Don’t lose sight of why you blog. Even if you’re doing everything right, it might still take a while before your blog gains traction. It’s a good idea to remind yourself why you decided to start a blog to begin with. Whether it’s to express your opinions, record memories, or any other reason, you’re the most important member of your audience, and should enjoy the experience. Fun tends to be contagious: a writer who enjoys blogging regardless of traffic is, paradoxically, more likely to attract it.
- Bonus tip: our Writing Challenges and Community Pool are great places to meet new bloggers looking to expand their WordPress.com network.
Awesome post. I’ve been writing blogs — off and on — WordPress since 2006. I have one other nowadays (that isn’t anonymous) that’s been up since March 2007. Persistency is key. Love WordPress and appreciate having this as a platform to write what it is that I have to say.
The Reader has been a godsend so far as producing traffic from within the WordPress community. When I first started nearly all traffic was generated from outside of WordPress via posts on various photography sites. Now WordPress bloggers are my main audience. I feel that adding something similar to the groups on Flickr would be an enhancement. Another possibility would be WP sponsored or promoted categories. Right now the photography category is flooded with a post having a half life of under an hour. What should be popular categories of photography like landscapes or portraits get little traffic. My .02 thank you.
To The Great Folks at WP … thank you so much for continuing to offer tips, techniques and explanations that help us become better bloggers. There’s so much to learn when we first start that it can be overwhelming. And if we’d been doing it for awhile we sometimes forget there are still new things to learn. You’re advice helps us all.
I enjoyed reading this article, considering my blog doesn’t have as much of a standing. In terms of the ‘Do’s’ I haven’t been blogging consistently so my two main blog followers have probably forgotten me in the wind *sniff*, but it’s helpful because it really gives good ideas on how to upkeep and create a tasteful, enjoyable, and popular blog. The Do’s and Don’ts are basic and easy: nothing too complicated for the average person *points to self* to implement on their own.
Absolutely excellent advice, all of it. And I’m happy to report that I follow almost all of it to one degree or another.
Except the “theme” thing.
The very nature of my blog is eclecticism, writing about whatever comes to mind, literally.
I do have stands that run through the blog, like my Picture this… photo-blogs.
Having straw polled my readers however, they seem to like the idea of not knowing what they’re going to get next (and that includes the other blogs I write occasional guest spots for, they don’t get any more of an advanced warning of what I’m going to write than I get of what’s going to pop into my head) but I do get frustrated with lack of traffic.
It won’t stop me though.
I’ve only discovered a love of, and (what people tell me is) a talent for writing in the last year or so and I’m enjoying it so much I’m prepared to play the long game, so to speak.
Oh, and I don’t really do “one word comments” so I’m alright in that regard.
So helpful! I’m making a copy of this so I can remind myself why I’m writing in my blog. I started my blog in 2011, then took a couple of years off to try content writing. I hated it! So I’m back to writing in my blog. It is a pleasure to write and take photographs just for me. I read and comment on other blogs. I find that relaxing. I am retired. I spent most of my life working jobs to pay bills–doing things I absolutely hated or being around people that I couldn’t stand. For once, I’m going to do something where the focus is on doing something that I want to do. Without feeling that I need to get paid for it. It’s all about the blog. As long as it brings me joy in my retirement, I’ll do it!
I started blogging four years ago because I had something to say and was hoping to connect with readers and other bloggers. That was one of the many reasons why I started my blog. Another was because I was recently laid off, then, as a staff writer for a Baltimore newspaper. I enjoy writing and had to keep my chops up while I was unemployed; hence, the blog.
After four years, the thing that sustains my interest is not the traffic (though I do publicize and attract a modest amount of readers) but that it’s fun, which this post suggested. I’ve also learned new skills such as using Web Analytics to gauge what types of posts my readers enjoy and diversifying my topics to attract new readers with different taste.
Thanks for this post! It’s great to see mg common practices affirmed.
Great points – I think writing regularly is where I tend to stumble the most. Both with my new blog here, and my personal blog, sometimes the only content is things I come up with and then say “who’s gonna give a hoot about that.” Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and go.
Great advice. I agree with all your points and the comment by lupitatucker about including images. I enjoy photos, makes me sound like a first grader, but pictures make for a more interesting read.
I’m happy with my traffic but I’m thrilled with every new follower I get and I love to see the growth of my numbers every month even though I write because I enjoy it.
Ruth from At Home on the Road
Very helpful piece – just what I need after only a month as a blogger, still finding my way round this new (to me) form of communication! I agree with the comment that images are really effective: people tend to pick up on the photos immediately. What I can’t decide is how long the ideal post should be – keep it short, to one screen with no scrolling, or let it go on longer so I cover the subject in more depth. I’m trying alternating, so see how this works. For sure, though, it’s a great way to reach out to people all over the world.
I’m always afraid of the ‘meaningful content’ line when it comes to comments. Half the time I assume that they’ve already heard everything I want to say. Though, as a new blogger I guess it comes down to the idea that I love getting comments and it doesn’t matter what they say as long as they’re not spam. So I guess some of it comes down to “Share the Love”
“4. Don’t stop reading… staying part of existing conversations keeps your content relevant, and will engage a wider audience than an entirely impenetrable musing.” That’s my favorite one. It’s easy to get stuck inside our own heads, or write about how hard it is to write, or keep running on our own little mental hamster wheel if we don’t step outside ourselves and see what’s going on around us. Wonderful tips here. Thank you.
Another tip is to stay on topic. Usually, a blogger stars with a specific area of interest and attracts like-minded readers. If you want to start blogging about a different subject, it’s probably best to start another blog. That way, you don’t alienate the readership you’ve built over time by focusing on topics they have no interest in.
I have been blogging for 5 years [have just reached 6.000.000 visits]. I believe that’s a healthy number of readers. Your words of advice hit the spot. I would give emphasis to blogging everyday. It almost does not matter what you say, but that your readers will know you have been there… and are thinking of your blog. If you take it seriously, they will take it seriously. Another thing: in the beginning I would consult the words in the search engines that brought people to the blog. When the same words started showing up, and IF — BIG IF — it was something I could encompass in the blog I would. It worked for me.
I think you missed the most important point.
Write unique content based on your own personal authentic experience.
People get sick of the same topics being written about over and over again.
Its very typical of guest authors and freelance writers to use Google to find ideas to write about when really they’re basing the post on someone else’s experience.
Another big problem is people writing based on a focus keyword.
I would suggest you write based on the needs, challenges, frustrations and goals of people in your niche and people who read your blog.
What you’ll find gets you noticed in your niche is unique content and unique ways to solve a problem, not the same old ideas found on one of your keyword competitors sites.
This might not please you but being first-timer in blogging business I’m sorry but I need to express this out. Humiliating but I simply don’t know yet how to tag. lol. Another thing is, I am not very good in English. But, why do I, in the first place, want to get involved? Because I want to learn. In a little while, I will be right in the process. First, I will go to either the Forums or Support for me to study how to tag. Then, I will continue reading and writing, of course, for me to enhance my English. Thank you for your post; I will do what you have said.
I’m agreeing with your points above, especially no 5 of the Dont’s. I think you have to write your blog primarily for yourself, not just be a ‘slave to traffic’ and focus everything in that direction. If people read what you write, be flattered, but you won’t always hit the spot.
Love your tips. I’m new to WordPress, I found that after joining the Photo Challenge, I begin to get some comments and likes, and I was very excited to get some response from the blogging community. Checking out who likes some of my stuff and reading other people’s work gives me some more inspiration what I can do.
Wow! Amazing list of points. What resonated with me is the last don’t – Don’t lose sight of why you blog. Fun tends to be contagious: a writer who enjoys blogging regardless of traffic is, paradoxically, more likely to attract it.
As someone who just started blogging 2 months back, my initial goal is to just keep getting to month six before I think about anything else. Till then my goals are to make me blogging behavior my second nature and keep putting great content out there. Having huge to do list never get things done. Little bets are the way to level up and push forward.
Thanks, this is a great list both for beginners and long time bloggers. Under Don’ts, #2 Don’t Spam – how does one deal with blogs full of pingbacks and/or reblogs? Throw it in trash or spam? Lately, many weekly photo challenge posts come full of pingbacks – I believe with good intentions.
Great Points! 4 and 5 on the Do’s standout to me because you’re existing network is your foundation and you’re building your new network from there. Without prior friends, new connections are more difficult acquire due to the lack of networking. A big don’t I focus on is to not forget to tag. Tagging broadens your audience and without it, your messages are less visible to the general public.
Your last line is going to stick with me for a long time! Sometimes with the work I do to promote my blog via social media, I lose track of why I started my blog in the first place, and I then view this as “work”. I can totally see now that if I find ways to make writing fun, then that enthusiasm will show through and will possibly attract more people to my blog.
Thanks for these tips. I’m still learning a lot of the terminology but it’s coming. And like Book Club Mom up there, I too am somewhat reluctant to just keep putting my stuff on Facebook, especially when the response is somewhat tepid, you know. But I’ll keep it up and mix it up, try to at least. I’m thinking about a music upgrade. Anyway, thanks much again.
Thank you for posting this!! I am a new to blogging, and as I was worrying that I could attract attention, as I have no real traffic. This post makes me realise what the saying “rome wasn’t build overnight” is truly about. For me blogging is like a scrapbook full of my memories, favourite things, opinions and just plainly the inner me. Please, post more on blogging tips. They are very useful.
Great post! I especially agree with the part of having fun, and that fun will follow! It seems happiness and fun attract more of it, thankfully! I hope to continue to blog for a while, especially since I am enjoying it. I seem to like the interactions the most and hearing what others have to say on a topic or post of mine. Hearing (reading!) new stories is always a positive and learning experience!
I read it somewhere that adding tags to your blog post can not help you in SEO. So, never thoughts of adding relevant tags to my posts ever.
But as you mentioned here, I think I should start adding tags to all posts.
Is it good, if I add tags to some old posts now or edit some of the tags or add more tags to any post? Will it help people find my blog on search engine?
Words of wisdom indeed. I am notoriously bad at posting regularly. Part of this is circumstantial and down to recurring problems with depression and low self-esteem. It was actually encouraging to hear that I am not the only tree in the forest and that lots of you feel like you’re blogging to yourselves!
Thanks for taking the time to post this advice :) Many of those points are things that I think a lot of people can intuitively understand when experiencing someone ELSE’s blog but fail to apply them to their own blog’s success strategy.
It can feel like a bit of a risk of the comfortable internet ‘anonymity’ when asking your own personal network of friends and family to view and discuss your blog. “REAL” people giving me feedback?? Can be a bit intimidating for some new writers, myself included.