Lately, I have seen lots of forum posts, personal emails and blog posts from new bloggers who are trying to figure this whole blog thing out. Everyone mainly wants to know how to get more traffic to their blog or what they should blog about.
I'm not a blog expert but I thought it would be a good thing to talk about here. I have been blogging since the end of December. In approximately 8 months, I have made over 150 posts, have almost 400 followers and actually started to make a little money from ad space on my blog. Not too shabby! Having a good blog and lots of readers doesn't happen by chance, though. It takes creativity, time and dedication.
"If you build it, they will come!"
It's true, before you try to increase your traffic, focus on your blog. Believe me, people will stumble upon your blog by chance but once you have those little fishies in your net, you have to keep them there. If you can catch a reader's attention, they are more likely to return and maybe follow you. Personally, I love blogs with lots of pretty things to look at, funny or educational posts and topics that I'm interested in. There are two main focus points for creating a great blog. If you don't have good content and nice images, most people won't want to come back to your blog.
1.) Content- For me, content is SO important. In my blogging, I try to have my images accompany my content, not the other way around. Good content makes for great reads. I love the pretty pictures too but pretty pictures won't keep me hanging around for longer than a few minutes. So, what do you want to say to the world?
I keep a blog notebook and every time an idea pops into my head, I jot it down, that way, I never run out of ideas for post topics. I like to do theme posts too. My Friday Night Fashion and a Movie posts are always fun because I get to watch a movie I've never seen (or an old favorite) and share it with other vintage lovers. I love my tutorial posts because I'm a very DIY kind of girl and I know people really like how-to's. I've seen fellow bloggers talk about celebrities, history, fashion designers, etc. If you don't know much about the topic, take your time to research it. Use the internet and library as your resource. For us fashion bloggers, talking about online shops and small businesses is a great way to improve our content for our readers and give a shout-out to those businesses that we love. The bottom line is, write about what you love! Not everyone will agree with you and not everyone will be interested in what you have to say but if you put it out there, people will read it. This is YOUR blog, YOUR happy place, so write about what makes you happy!
2.) The pretty bits
Your images, your banner, your blog layout are all key components to a great blog. My lay-out was crap until I recently got help from a very kind, very talented reader and fellow blogger. If you are like me and are not techno-savvy, ask for help from friends, relatives and of course, your blog friends! A blog that really -pops- will catch your readers eye and keep them coming back for more. Make your blog easy to navigate by trying to keep your side bars de-cluttered. This is not always my strong spot. I'm a pack-rat even on the web. When taking fashion pictures of yourself, if you can't get a friend to act as your photographer, try learning to use your timer on your camera. Avoid using your camera phone (unless you're a really good camera phone photographer) I recently came across a blog with camera phone pics that were sideways and upside down! It was ridiculous to try to figure out what I was looking at. Take the time to edit your pictures and at least rotate them so they're right-side up. For editing red eye, color adjustments, cropping, etc. I use photoscape. It's free and idiot-proof- perfect for me. I also use shape collage to create groups of several photos. It's also free.
How to increase your traffic
You've been posting great content, taking fabulous pictures and still no one is reading your blog. Well, first of all, there are more people reading than you think! Followers are people who want to subscribe and read you regularly but there are LOADS of people who just drop by and read one post or people who lurk around by bookmarking your blog instead of setting up an account to follow you. Still, even with almost 400 followers, I do the happy dance every time I get one more. So, how do you get more dedicated readers? Find them!!
Post a link to your blog on forums, in a comment on another blog, on your facebook or other social networking site. Don't just randomly leave this comment, though
"Check out my blog at http://pleasepleasepleasereadme.blogspot.com"
...because that drives people crazy. Instead, say something interesting that pertains to the conversation or blog post. Funny comments, questions, compliments, etc all get attention. If you grab someone's attention, they will be more likely to want to know more about you and they will click on your link. When you leave a link on another blog, you are not only leaving the link for that person, you are opening yourself up to all of their readers as well.
2.)Give and you Shall Receive
If you want someone to read your blog, read theirs too. If you follow other blogs, that also gives you the chance to comment on them and leave your link, thus getting more traffic.
3.)Host a Giveaway
Giveaways are an amazing way to boost your traffic. You can list your giveaway on other blogs, giveaway sites and forums. People love freebies so they'll visit your blog to see what you have to offer. You can either purchase something to give away or ask a small business owner if they would like to collaborate on a giveaway. Having a sponsor support a giveaway is a win-win. They get business, you get traffic. If you have a business collaborate, it is VERY important that you link that business, talk about what kinds of products/services they offer, etc.
4.)Meet people in person
It sounds so ridiculous saying this, but I have business cards for Va-Voom Vintage. Stupid? Not at all. I've walked around stores, parks, malls, etc and had tons of people stop me, asking "how do you do your hair?" or "I love your style, I wish I could dress like that" or whatever. This is your chance to say "Oh, well I have a tutorial on my blog for how to do hair like this" or "I write a fashion blog, you can read it here!" I never randomly pass out business cards, only when asked. But it happens all the time! This is also a great way to meet new people, make friends and keep in touch with readers in your area.
5.) Use your tags When you're writing a blog post, there is a box at the bottom for "labels for this post" use those labels. Fill that space with words pertaining to your post. Not only does this help your readers to navigate your blog but it allows search engines to pick up on your blog.
6.) Connect with the blogosphere- Email other bloggers, respond to comments, nominate other bloggers for blog awards, write guest posts on other blogs, interview other bloggers and post about it. Blogland is a community and if you want to be noticed, be part of it. Jump on in, the water is fine!
A Few More Tips
1.)Keep track of your traffic
You can see how many people are checking you out by setting up an account with Google Analytics and by setting up a visitor counter on your blog. It's really fun to see how many people in how many countries around the world are reading what you have to say. This will also give you an idea of which posts are the most popular so you know what to write about in the future.
2.)Keep it moving
Always strive to evolve your blog. Change the colors or layout every once in a while. If a reader comments with a question, respond with a post about it! Always brain storm for new post ideas and try to keep it fresh for your readers.
Read other blogs, flip through magazines, watch movies and listen to your readers for inspiration.
4.)Don't be an annoying billboard
I love having ads on my blog. My blog takes a LOT of my time. So, with advertising, I make a little money and small business owners get the attention of my readers. That being said, don't be too much of a billboard. I only write about businesses and products that I do or would use. If you're writing a fashion blog, would you advertise for a car company? probably not. When it comes to ads, stay true to your readers and to your topic by choosing who gets to advertise on your blog. If you want to advertise, Project Wonderful is a great place to start, but make sure you have good content, 30 posts or more and of course, lovely images.
If you have questions, comments or advice about blogging to share, please leave it in a comment below....oh, and if you have a blog, even a new one, leave a link so I can read you!! p.s. sorry for no pretty pics, I'm a bad blogger! :)