One of the topics I regularly get questions about in my inbox is on how to grow a blog audience. Today I’m trying to give some practical tips which will not only help you to get more readers, but provides guidance on how you can make the most out of the traffic your blog already has. Curious yet?
1. Study your traffic.
One of the first steps that you’ll have to take in order to grow your blog traffic is by studying it. It’s key to install a Google Analytics account, which gives a lot of insight on who your readers are, which of your posts they love and how they landed up on your blog.
Page views: Refers to the amount of website visits. A page view is triggered when any page is loaded by any visitor on your website. For example, if you click the following link, you’ve triggered a page view. If you do that 20 more times today, that will count as 20 page views.
Unique visitors: Refers to the individuals that visited your website during a given period. This number is usually less than page views. Potential advertisers are more interested in this number than page views, because they want to know how many different people coming to your blog on a daily basis
Before you can set up a strategy that will work best for you and your blog, you’ll have to have a close look at how people find your blog. The “Acquisition” tab in Google analytics allows you to find out where your traffic comes from. I personally spend some time every week analysing my top 10 referrals. Some answers you’ll find here are:
1. What social media accounts drive the most traffic?
2. Which traffic is most valuable (low bounce rate + high engagement)
Some referrals are more valuable than others, depending on the bounce rate (the people that ‘click away’ immediately after entrance) and engagement (how much time people spend on my website?)
3. Have I been featured on any websites recently?
Let me tell you a few things I’ve discovered while checking out these stats. I’ve been featured in an article on Stylecaster almost a year ago and it’s still my third biggest source of referrals. Wow, this can’t mean anything else than that Stylecaster is a hugely powerful website. It also means it’s probably worth it to spend some time to find out which are the most visited fashion platforms and –if you have the guts-, you can even pitch one of your outfits to them. You never know, they might want to feature it. Second, they like to talk about me on blogger gossip forum Get off my Internets and third, Pinterest drives highly engaged traffic.
Bounce rate: The person who entered your website leaves immediately without interacting with the page. The lower the bounce rate, the better. Some consider a bounce rate over 50% as bad.
Engagement: The longer people spend on your website, the better. The average session duration informs you how long your readers spend on your blog.
How to: Google analytics – Dashboard – Acquisition – All referrals
3. Quality traffic
An interesting one to define, but under quality traffic I understand how relevant your traffic is for potential advertisers and how engaged your readers are with you and your blog.
Relevant traffic primarily relates to nationality. Let me explain this through an example. Let’s say that I’m working with David Jones (an Australian retailer). In that case my blog traffic based in Australia is most relevant, as this retailer is based in Australia and not elsewhere in the world. As a blogger it’s important to keep your market in mind in everything you do, because it’s not only the volume of your blog traffic that counts, but also where they’re from. I’m part of a media agency in Western Europe that covers mostly brands positioned in that region. The other sponsored posts I do is with Australian brands, so in a monetization point of view when it comes to sponsored posts, my most important traffic are the ones coming from the Netherlands and Australia.
Once you know what traffic you’re aiming at or which traffic is most important in order for you to monetize your blog, you keep that in mind for your marketing strategies. You don’t have any? Probably you do, but you weren’t actually aware that they’re part of marketing. Ever leave comments on other people’s blog or Instagram accounts or interact on forums? If you do, you’re already doing some sort of marketing.
Besides looking at which traffic is most relevant for you (this usually based on where you live), you also have to pay attention to the level of engagement of your readers. How much time do they spend on your blog? Do they interact with you? The quality of your traffic isn’t very easy to proof to potential advertisers, but a low bounce rate is one of the indications that your readers are engaged. Is your bounce rate too high (over 50%), here’s a few ways that will help you to keep your blog readers on your website longer:
– Display related content at the end of each post
– Get a clean & easy to navigate website design
– Use short paragraphs. Long texts scares people. (Are you bored of this article yet ;))
4. Social Media
Most people know that social media can help growing your website, but how to utilize the different channels which are out there effectively?
Find your match
It takes some time and try-outs to determine which social media channels work best for you. I usually judge the effectiveness of a medium by looking at how many blog visits it drives per week and I compare them to my other social media. There’s of course Facebook (Use for more personal interaction with readers) and Instagram (Good for branding) and Twitter (Easy to reach locals) and Pinterest (Drives highly engaged readers)
Then there are also topic specific social media channels such as Lookbook, Pose and Chictopia. On these platforms you can set up accounts and post your outfits. I’ve found that maintaining accounts on these platforms drives a lot of traffic. But do you know what’s even better? The people visiting these platforms are interested in fashion, so you’ve got more chance that they will be interested in you too.
Always keep your eyes open for new emerging social media and if you think this channel is the right fit for you and your readership, dive into it. Soon enough the next hype after Instagram will come, so make sure that you’ll be the first one to take advantage of it. It’s not for no reason that the people who started with Instagram the earliest, have been benefiting from it the most.
5. Marketing yes or no’s
There’s a few more imposing marketing styles that you could apply to drive more traffic to your blog, but you have to be careful with how you do it and when you do it.
– Leaving comments on blogs with an endless amount of links related to your own blog isn’t very respectful. People put time and effort in the posts they write, so it’s not very nice of you if you don’t acknowledge that. Leave constructive comments that contribute to the conversation. If you want your blog to grow, leave at least 20 of such comments a day.
– Some people market their blog by following a huge amount of people on social accounts like twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. I don’t have a problem with that personally, but I do think that it’s important to be up front about it. If in any case people ask you why you’re doing it, just tell them the truth.
– The most important thing for you to decide whether marketing tools are a yes or no is by asking 1) does this annoy people? 2) Is it fair?
A helpful or maybe even necessary tool in order to grow and maintain your blog readers is to be consistent and recognizable. Us people are simple creatures and we like things and people that are easy to remember. This process is also called ‘branding’. Branding starts with your blog’s design. Invest some time and money to get your own personalized header logo and implement it on your Facebook page too.
In order to be consistent you first have to know what defines your blog. What can help you to to answer this question you have to look at your blog from a readers perspective. Are they expecting to find fashion advice, great images or maybe personal articles? Maybe even all three. Once you’ve defined what different categories your blog comprehends, try to post about each topic on a fortnightly basis. Let’s say my blog is 25% outfits, 25% personal articles, 25% blogging/marketing advice and 25% beauty or lifestyle related, I’ll make sure to rotate those different topics on a fortnightly basis, because that’s what my readers will be expecting from me.
7. No Magic solution
Building up an extensive audience doesn’t happen overnight. It’s very much a step by step progress. Sometimes you’ll see that whenever you put two steps forward, you’re being thrown back three. And you know what? It’s normal. Success never comes in a straight upwards movement. Never was, never will be. It takes time to build up a good reputation and visibility, but that will eventually pay off.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you need to blog for a while in order to find your unique style and voice. I know that the topics of fashion, beauty and lifestyle are already widely covered, but that shouldn’t stop you from running a blog about these topics too. Just make sure you’re putting your personality and your own personal touch to every single article that you post.
What makes you unique? What makes you different then the million other bloggers out there? Ask yourself those questions and go from there.
I know that these tips only comprehend the topic of growing your blog traffic very briefly, but I’ll do a post about utilizing different social media channels in the near future, because there’s simply so much to say about it. I assume that most of you want to grow their blog traffic in order to eventually make some money or even a living from your blogs, I figured that the next upcoming blog marketing article should be about monetizing your blog in the best possible ways.
And now it’s your turn. What are your thoughts on this topics? Do you have any questions or suggestions? Let me know in the comments below.