There was a time when I imagined a day would come when I would have the opportunity to write a post all about “How to grow your blog” – and it would be titled something catchy – like: “How to grow your blog”, or “How I tripled my followers in 2017!”
I tripled my followers in 2017. I think.
I don’t remember how many followers I had at the beginning of the year. That was a long time ago, when I was still saying things like, “I really need to work on my blog more”, because I posted a picture of a hat or a scarf once every three or four months and made some comment about… I don’t know, what did I write about? Hats and scarves? Things fashion bloggers write about.
Anyway – moral of the story – now I have over 1,000 followers. So, I *think* I tripled my following? – assuming I started the year off with 200-ish (sounds about right).
“How did she do it?”, you’re asking. “What’s the secret sauce?”
I had always assumed this post would be a lot more professional-sounding. I imagined talking about things like “SEO tools” and “brand content” and “how to plan your blog posts”.
I assumed I would actually know what those things were by the time I got around to writing this post. If I can write a post about “tripling my traffic” – you’d think I’d know something about traffic tools. But I don’t. I had to Google “What does S.E.O. stand for?” And the last time I tried to plan out my blog posts for the month… I just couldn’t. It was hard. I was expecting these posts to be GREAT!-AMAZING!-WONDERFUL!-PULITZER-PRIZE-WORTHY (forget the fact that the Pulitzer is an award given to outstanding achievements in journalism, which is hardly the same thing as being a self-proclaimed blogger… but you know what I mean). I was giving myself time to write the posts. It wasn’t something I was just throwing out into the world all willy-nilly-“let’s just word vomit all over this page” like I usually do (like I did with this post). Unfortunately the extra time just made me extra stressed. Things didn’t SOUND right. They didn’t jive. They didn’t feel… bloggy. Blogger-y? Blog worthy. You know, since I gave myself all of that extra time to write.
So I wrote a post about THAT experience here. And then I started Googling things like, “How to grow your blog following” and “How to drive traffic to your blog” – because I thought maybe I’d get an extra confidence boost if more people started showing up and reading my stuff, even if it wasn’t up to my weird, unattainably high standards. Maybe other people would appreciate the… heart? Sure, let’s go with that.
But when you Google things like “How to drive traffic to your blog” – all of this stuff pops up about, like… numbers. Blog numbers. “Hits”. SEO. Online marketing. Technical Internet jargon. “RSS feed”.
That was one of the things. “Make it easy for blog visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed“. And I was like – do I even HAVE an RSS feed? I don’t know what that is. Is it like the comment section?
They’ll also tell you to invest in promotion (“For $10, you can boost a post on Facebook to reach wider audiences!”), or “Incorporate keywords to improve your SEO”. How do I know what the “keywords” are supposed to be? Is there a list? How do I incorporate them? Is it like a hashtag?
There’s other stuff Google will tell you – all kinds of stuff, you can read for hours and learn alllllll about the technical side of blogging if you want to – but every time I try to, it makes my head spin and I get overwhelmed and flustered and a part of me thinks, “This is too hard. I’ll worry about this part later.”
Blogging can literally be a full time job. That’s why some people do it as a FULL TIME JOB. And those are the people who can work on things like SEO and online newsletters and “hits” and RSS feeds. But if you’re like me – and all you want to do is write and take pictures, that’s okay too. Your passion project doesn’t need to be your full time job. Sometimes it’s important to remind yourself not to get too caught up in this stuff – don’t take the fun out of it. That’s why you started doing this in the first place.
But if you’re interested in how I grew my “traffic” this year… well, I don’t really know how I did it. I think it was a happy accident. But here’s what I can tell you that I started doing this year:
- I literally went to Facebook.com and typed in “Fashion Bloggers”, “Chicago Bloggers”, “Lifestyle Bloggers” – you get the idea – then I clicked “Request to join” on these group pages. And guess what? THEY LET ME IN. These groups are extremely supportive and offer excellent opportunities for blog engagement. Many times the admin will start a post that will let you add your latest blog post as a comment —- and people will actually read it! It’s a great way to get involved with the blog community AND drive traffic to your blog. (But make sure you’re interacting with their blogs too!)
- You know how people will find out that you have a blog? When you tell them you have a blog. Utilize your Instagram following by adding the link to your bio, and making sure to create posts that can help drive traffic to your blog. (Bonus – this can also help you to get sponsorships!)
- Utilize your blog platform
- Mine is powered by WordPress, and one of the things I enjoy doing is looking up other people’s blogs on WordPress. It’s fun to see what the other bloggers are doing – and, let’s face it, I love blogs (hence, why I have one). By interacting with other bloggers in your platform (liking and commenting on their posts), it can also help to drive traffic and new readers!
- I was one of these people who thought I didn’t need pictures for a long time. “People are going to think I’m into myself,” I said. “It’s really about all the writing anyway.” Sure – it is mostly about the writing, you should have good content…. but people like pictures. They like visual aids. And the better quality pictures you have, the better and more professional your content will be.
- Aesthetic & theme
- It’s important your aesthetic matches your niche. At the beginning of the year, my blog didn’t have a title. It was just “jennsfashion.com”….here it is. A fashion blog. With a bunch of weird. posts about, like, yoga and bleaching my hair. People were probably like “What is this even about? I don’t get it”. So I changed up the layout to make things easier to read, added a title – “The Internet Needs Boring Fashion Blogs” – which is direct, but also cheeky enough that people probably know the tone of voice they’re getting into before even reading a post. Keep a cohesive theme and voice to let your readers know who you are and what they’re getting into.
- In all fairness – I’ve really only done this once. I’m picky about collaborations because I am so assertive about the content and voice that I want on my blog. It isn’t big enough yet to feature other voices. However, I was nominated for the Leibster award (only people in the blog world know what that is) and was featured on someone else’s page – which helped drive traffic to mine. From then, I featured about a post about other bloggers, which ultimately helped all of us. (If you would like to be nominated for a Leibster – you can find links to these posts in the Facebook groups).
- I’m on Pinterest. I don’t know if it’s actually done anything for me, but I have links to my blog posts on Pinterest.
- I bought a domain.
- At the beginning of the year – this web address was still “jennsfashion.wordpress.com”. But since I’ve purchased the domain, it is now jennsfashion.com. Not only does this clean up the name, but it also makes the page seem more professional. And – in my own words – “real”.
- I worked on how my “voice” goes with my niche.
- It’s weird to say that I have a fashion blog, written by someone who knows nothing about fashion, written for an audience of other fashion bloggers. And yet – somehow – it all seems to work. I love incorporating personal stories into my posts, without losing sight of what the post is supposed to be about. Never lose focus on your niche. (Sometimes this is harder than you’d think it would be. Sometimes even I don’t succeed at it. But the point is, I’m trying!)
- Treat it like a business.
- I can sit here all day long and try to convince you that I don’t take this blog seriously because “I don’t plan out my blog posts” and I joke about “SEO” and “not posting on a schedule”…. and all of that stuff is true. But in reality, I do take this blog seriously. I don’t post something if I think it’s crap. I don’t make a joke out of the photoshoots that I do (even though sometimes they can feel that way). I don’t just post “whatever”. These posts typically take hours to write – because they’re supposed to be good. And all of them have come from a running list of ideas in the “notes” app on my iPhone. When an idea strikes me for a blog post, I write it down. I take it seriously. And when you take something seriously, and treat it like a business, your business will grow.
So maybe it’s not “keywords” and SEO tips – but it’s ten new things I did this year with my blog, and it helped to drive traffic! What are some of your tricks that you’ve noticed have helped drive traffic to your blog this year? Let’s hear it in the comments below!