Hello my friends! I hope you are doing amazing! Is your week going well? Are you looking forward to the weekend? We have fun fun Fall plans for this weekend! By chance, are you a blogger? Or maybe you are thinking about starting a blog? Three weeks ago I posted a traffic update for month two of my blog. I received 5,065 page views! Totally over the moon about this! A lot of you have asked how I managed to see such an increase from month one. Today I will share how to drive traffic to your blog. Join me!
Disclaimer: For your convenience, I have included some affiliate links. This simply means if you click on one of the links and buy something, I may receive a small commission, but do not worry… you will not pay a dime more.
Why I Started a Blog
Blogging is fun, and a lot of work- especially when you are starting out! Learning the technical ins and outs of your blog can be overwhelming. So many acronyms too- what exactly is SEO, am I right?! Three years ago we moved into our home on Arbor Pointe, and I fell in love with the process of decorating it and doing projects to make it our own. My passion is seasonal decorating- and I am always planning crafting projects! How do you spend your free time?
In May 2015, I randomly painted stripes on a wall in my home. A Pinterest junkie since 2011, I was so proud that I finally jumped in and completed a project I had pinned! During the same weekend, I signed up for a free WordPress blog and shared my story of painting the wall. Coolest. Feeling. Ever.
It took about a week for me to gather the courage to share it on Facebook. Silly- I know- but I worried people would judge and/or criticize my ability to do the painting correctly. I received 8 comments on my Facebook post- nothing but love, let me tell you!
Over the course of 2 years, I made 10-11 posts. All for fun, each written in less than one hour. No focus other than simply wanting to share. The writing was about me and my projects.
Revamping my Blog
In January 2017, I started researching the journey of many awesome blogger friends. Some bloggers make money from the hobby in which they are passionate about- and some make a LOT of money! Blogging was fun, and I quickly learned the potential my small blog contained. With a bit more planning, structure, and focus on serving readers, I could grow my blog into a business! I became motivated and inspired. Now to develop a plan…
For almost all of April and May, I spent most of my free time planning a re-launch of my blog. Here were my focus points for re-launch:
Develop a Self-Hosted Site
WordPress is an awesome platform for blogging. It is user friendly and does not require a lot of technical know-how to navigate. When I began my blog in May 2015, I used the free version of WordPress. I set it up in one afternoon- not even kidding! Because of its ease of navigation, I knew I wanted to stick with WordPress. The free version of WordPress does not allow you to monetize your site, so I needed to set up my WordPress blog on a self-hosted site to be able to place ads and affiliate links.
I chose BlueHost because it was inexpensive and offered one click installation of my WordPress blog. Done! For $3.95 per month, my blog is on a self-hosted site that is protected and easy to manage. And the one click installation was true- I was shocked by how easy it was to get up and running! I highly recommend BlueHost for anyone looking for a self-hosted site that is easy to use and will not break the bank.
Plan for Monetization
As I mentioned earlier, the business plan for my blog includes adding affiliate links and ads to my posts. Prior to re-launching my blog in June, I applied for several affiliate partnerships. I was accepted by Amazon, Target, Shareasale, and CJ Commission. Shareasale is actually a hub for hundreds of major merchants, so once I was accepted, I applied to individual merchants. I was able to join the affiliate programs for Wayfair, Joss and Main, and Cricut.
As I mentioned, there are hundreds of merchants offering affiliate partnerships. For now, I am focusing on these few until I get off and running and passive sales become routine. I only want to promote products I really use and feel positive about, so sticking with these few feels best.
A word about Amazon and CJ Commission: You must make a qualifying sale within 180 days of signing up to be an affiliate in order to remain an affiliate. Amazon actually requires that you have 3 qualifying sales within 180 days of sign-up, so you may want to consider waiting until you get significant traffic before signing up. Just a thought- go for it whenever you feel the time is right for you!
Create a Content Calendar
I have the best job in the world- I am a middle school assistant principal! Blogging is my business on the side, and I love it. In order to be successful, I have to be intentional about planning time to develop blog posts, create graphics, and promote my work. My readers need to be able to count on me to share- and being MIA for periods of time does not build trust!
Developing a content calendar helps me stick to my goal of publishing a new blog post once a week. Specifically, I strive to publish every Monday! I work on multiple blog posts at a time, so if I have an extremely busy week at work I still have something ready to post.
Creating a content calendar allows me to explore new blog ideas, while thinking about ways I can expand on old posts.
Explore Social Media Opportunities to Promote Traffic
I love social media! I have been on Facebook for 7+ years and Twitter for the last 2 years. The week I found Pinterest in 2011 changed my life! I set up an Instagram account 9 months ago and it is my FAVORITE social media site. In researching ways to promote my blog, I learned that social media is a great way to get exposure and gain readers.
Recap of the Four Things I Focused on Before Launch
While there are dozens of things you will feel you need to do before launching a blog, I made these four my priority:
- Develop a Self-Hosted Site
- Plan for Monetization
- Create a Content Calendar
- Explore Social Media Opportunities to Promote Traffic
Re-Launch of Home on Arbor Pointe
On June 5, I re-launched my blog. It was not perfect, in fact, it was so far from what I expected it to be that I reconsidered the re-launch! Figuring out how to add affiliate links was a bit of a challenge. The plug-in I installed for Amazon, which allows me to sell Amazon products, was not installed correctly (surprise, surprise- I seriously lack tech skills). It took me hours to figure out what I did wrong, how to uninstall it, then install it correctly!
Starting a blog takes patience and persistence. I will not lie, it takes a lot of work and research trying to figure things out. My blog was not perfect on June 5 and it is not perfect today. I am always working on it- and I love this part of it! It is a continuous learning experience!
How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
Throughout the months of April, May, and June, I easily estimate I spent 100+ hours developing my blog. I re-launched on June 5 with 7 blog posts. (Some of the previous posts were not relevant to the current vision I have for my blog, so I archived them.) I was so excited for the big day!
I posted my re-launch to Facebook and Twitter, and I had 56 visitors that day! Whoop whoop! And I had 12 visitors the next day, and on day 3 I had 4 visitors. Ouch, right? You build this great blog, with your heart and soul, and no one visits.
Is this you? Do you have a great product out there no one sees? I can relate, my friend!
June crept along, and by the end of the month, I had 798 page views. Not awful, but not great. I set a goal of 3,000 page views for July and got super serious about making it happen! And I kicked that goal’s booty. I got 5,065 page views!
In Rolls July- the Game Changer!
So how did I increase my page views by 600%?
Now that my blog was up and running, I concentrated on four things in July with a LASER focus, and the results were amazing!
Design Incredible Graphics on Canva
Canva is amazing! You can create an account for free and then develop beautiful graphics for your posts. Canva has over 1,000,000 stock images available to be used on your graphics. You can also upload your own photos to your graphic designs. Canva allows you to choose the type and size of the graphic you wish to design.
In late June, I started using Canva to create graphics for Pinterest. Pinterest likes vertical pins, the longer the better. My graphics are 735 x 1500. Another tip for graphics is to use stock photos, instead of mediocre shots taken with your camera.
I love Pinterest! The right graphic can circulate on this platform, bringing traffic to your blog for years. The better, eye-catching graphics you create, the more clicks and repins you will receive.
Implement a Semi-Looping Strategy on Pinterest
After launching pins linked to my blog on Pinterest, I quickly signed up for a free trial of Tailwind. I joined some group boards and away I went. Discovering Tailwind was a life saver. Suddenly, I could schedule pins a week in advance and enjoy the traffic blitz, right? Well, the first part of that statement is true- but I was not immediately seeing a spike in traffic.
For some bloggers, they luck out- set up the account and boom- traffic gets flowing. Not so much for me. So my solution was to pin like crazy. I was pinning dozens and dozens of pins a day! As a newbie, I did not know it, but I was spamming my group boards. Ugh, I was a mess on Pinterest!
I needed a Pinterest strategy and I found a brilliant one. My blogging friend, Suzi, from Start a Mom Blog, has been an incredible mentor to me on my blogging journey. She shares the best advice, and while her blog is crazy successful, she still takes time to reply to every comment and email!
Help from Suzi
Suzi wrote an amazingly helpful post on the Pinterest semi-looping strategy she uses. I copied it. Exactly as she recommended, and my traffic from Pinterest took off! On July 6, when my blog was 28 days old, I had 448 page views. Most of my traffic came from Pinterest and I was not spamming my peeps. YAY!!!
I went from pinning 30-40 of my own pins each day to a mellow 14 or less. Ironically, my page views went up by being organized in my pinning. This left time and opportunity for me to share other people’s pins, which is a great way to pay it forward!
Write Blog Posts That are 1000+ Words in Length
As a new blogger, I was not sure how much my readers wanted me to share. Silly, right?! I actually worried about making blog posts too long- fearful those reading would grow bored with more words! In reality, the opposite is true. Readers want to learn something from your posts. When they feel they have gained something from your reading your words, they tend to click to another post to see what other information they can acquire.
My early blog posts were between 350-700 words. Yes, most were squeaked out in an hour or two, and that includes posting photos! I did not invest much time in the content I was preparing.
The truth is, readers like to walk away from reading your posts feeling like their time was well spent. Blog posts with more than 1,000 words provide more meat for your readers, providing clarity on your topic while answering questions for your readers. Google also likes longer blog posts- which is great when people are searching your topic!
I now hold the expectation that all of my posts are a minimum of 1000 words. Many of my posts (including this one) are reaching 2,000 words. I want to provide my readers with information that will enrich their lives!
Engage with Other Bloggers
The blogging community is full of sweet, encouraging, and helpful people! Honestly, I have had the great privilege of virtually meeting some of the nicest people ever within Facebook groups and other blogger hangouts. In other businesses, it is competitive. Sometimes super competitive, and to the point it is difficult to align yourself with true friends. For the most part, bloggers want to see other bloggers succeed. When one of us wins, we all WIN!
Reach out to the bloggers you admire. Follow those in your niche that are finding success, and interact with them. Comment on their blog posts, thank them for sharing information that helps you. Don’t be the blogger that drops their current blog post and rolls out! Build genuine relationships with those whose blog you wish to emulate.
Recap of the Four Things that Drove Traffic to My Blog in July
I got 5,065 page views in July, my second month blogging. If you are a blogger, you know the list of things to do for your blog is endless- and it can be a real challenge to determine what should be the most important things to do. I prioritized these four things, and the results were incredible:
- Design incredible graphics with Canva
- Implement a looping strategy on Pinterest
- Write blog posts that are 1000+ words in length
- Engage with other bloggers
Blogging is exciting and challenging, frustrating and super fun! It is a journey worth taking, and I could not be happier to call this little page mine.
What blogging strategies have you implemented to drive traffic to your blog? Be sure to share in the comments! And if you like, include your blog address so we can connect!