If you are new to Blogland, and even if you aren’t, you know that getting people to check out your site and it’s content is one of the biggest challenges of having a blog. Some days are better than others and traffic fluctuates from month to month. Here are a few tips and ways to get your stuff out there.
1. Contribute to link parties. A year into blogging and I still get the majority of my traffic from link parties I have participated in. Link parties are collections hosted on one or more blogs that people can submit their ideas and projects to for others to browse.
If you do decide to join any parties, try to play by the host or hostess’ rules. This often includes you displaying a link back to their site. It’s only fair, right? You display your stuff on their site and they get a little space on yours. There are ways to not allow partiers to link if they don’t have a link back to the host site now, so just do it. I have found that a text link list, divided by days of the week, on my sidebar works best for me in terms of space on my blog. The host site still gets their link on my homepage (and all of my other pages) and it’s easy for me to just go down my list when I’m linking up. That way I don’t miss any parties I want to participate in. I have not had any complaints from host sites about this method.
2. Submit content to bigger sites. It can be hard to put your stuff out there for people to reject, but the worst that can happen is that you’re told “No Thanks.” If you complete a project with dollar store items, submit it to Dollar Store Crafts. They might not post about it, but then again, they might. I’ve gotten some great traffic from bigger sites. Craft Gossip, One Pretty Thing and Tip Junkie are great sites to start with.
3. List your blog on blog directory sites. This won’t get you a ton of traffic, but it will get your name out there to some who wouldn’t find you any other way. Picket Fence Blogs and The Blog Guidebook are a couple sites you can list your site on for free.
4. Offer to do guest posts. If you can get a post on a bigger blog, go for it. Again, don’t count the little people out though. A lot of times, smaller blogs have followers that larger blogs don’t. Make sure your post is relevant to their site. Don’t offer to do a sewing post on a food blog… The owner probably won’t take you up on the offer.
Accepting guest posts every once in a while can be helpful too. You’ll get traffic from other blogs and it can be helpful when you want to keep your site active, but have real life going on too. Moving? Having a baby? Vacation time? Guest posters can contribute to your site and you both get a little exposure on each other’s sites, not to mention you can vacation without feeling like you need to check your blog.
5. Social Media Networks. This can be a two edged sword. Why? Every new platform you add offers your followers a new way to connect. If someone doesn’t do much blog surfing or doesn’t have an RSS reader but spends time on Facebook everyday… well, Facebook is going to be easier and more convenient for them to follow you. What’s the downside? Every platform takes time to maintain and update. Blogging, whether it’s for a profit or not, takes a lot of time. It’s also a convenient way for others to share your content. A quick click of the “Like” or “retweet” button and your content reaches all the friends of the button clicker. There’s nothing better than advertising you don’t have to lift a finger for.
6. Allow (or request) your site to be listed in search engines. Now that I have a decent amount of content on my site, I get quite a bit of traffic from Google searches. You can add your site to Google HERE. The major search engines are good enough for most people. Google is the only one I’ve submitted to. *Added: As someone pointed out in the comments, you don't have to submit your site to Google for them to find you. I did notice an increase in my traffic from Google after I submitted my site though. It's like letting Google know that your site is legitimate and active. It can help your content appear closer to the top in search results. Site views with also help your content appear higher in search results.
7. Discussion Boards and Forums. I’ve had a couple of my links shared on various discussion boards and forums. This will bring in traffic from people visiting larger websites. You can’t really influence this, but if it happens, it’s always nice to say a quick thank you to the original poster. Occasionally, I’ve had this lead to questions about the posted link and, eventually, other links are shared to my stuff too with more questions. Letting the people who are following the link know that you are available and real makes you (and your site) more appealing.
8. Advertising. I have yet to actually pay for advertising. There are several blogs that will button swap (display your button on their site while you display their button on your site). It’s a win/win swap. You can also sponsor giveaways. I have sponsored my share of giveaways in exchange for free advertising. I also accept sponsored giveaways for advertising on my site. Sponsoring giveaways is often a little more affordable than outright purchase of ad space, especially on larger blogs and websites.
It doesn’t hurt to have business cards either. Yes, business cards for a blog, even a hobby blog. When someone asks what you like to do, pull out a card. You don’t have to go into a huge explanation, they can check it out themselves later.
9. Leave comments on other blogs. This is a great tool, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Leave a valid, relevant comment. Comment on something related to the post. Let the blog owner know you actually read the post. Don’t critique the post, project, recipe or whatever. If you can’t say something nice, go comment somewhere else. Who is going to go check out your site when you just pointed out everything (you think) is wrong with theirs? It’s fine to link to your site in the comment, but “come see me” or “I follow you, come follow me” comments will cause more damage than help your case. The link is an obvious invitation to come visit. If I’m interested, I’ll follow your link. Telling me to do so makes me feel like you’re bossing me around. I don't really like to be bossed around...
10. Don’t be afraid to share. I was incredibly hesitant to publish (and advertise) my Ten Things I Hate About Your Blog post. I felt like I was totally attacking other blogs by saying “If you have this and this and this, your blog is horrible”. However, it is one of my more popular posts. I was inspired to write the post by a similar one I found on Hope Studios. I finally talked myself into pushing the ‘publish’ button when I realized I had been interested in the post on Hope Studios, maybe other people would be interested in this one. It was a little scary waiting for reader reaction, but it turned out great. You never know what people will like. Just be tactful.
11. Be patient. If you are new to blogging, give it time. The sites that have thousands of followers have been up and running for a while, often times for years. Blogging is growing in popularity and the blogs that are starting up now are growing more quickly than my blog did in the beginning. But it takes time to get your name and content out there. There are millions and millions of blogs. If you keep publishing good content, they will come. The best bloggers focus on content, not numbers. If you are all about the numbers, you will get frustrated, burned out and tired of blogging. It takes time to grow a following.
Number 11 is probably the most important, and the hardest, one to actually do. I know I’m definitely still working on patience. Yes, those are my stats up there. As you can see, June was a fantastic traffic month. July, not so much. Could be that I only published 18 posts and took two weeks off of new content and linking to link parties (see how much linking up helps!?). But, I’m ok with the rise and fall. After all, aren’t roller coasters supposed to be fun? If blogging is a hobby, there is no reason to stress about the numbers. It's supposed to be FUN!