I launched The Art of Blogging at the end of April 2018. By October 2018, I had over 12,000 readers and was generating enough traffic to rival my main blog.
How did I do it?
Here are a few specific techniques that really helped me build my blog’s traffic over time.
1. Create a strategy
This is something I teach my one-on-one clients. You need a game plan in order to be successful, and ultimately it’s all about answering a few questions.
What is your blog about? It should be clearly defined, but not too narrow.
The Art of Blogging is, of course, a blog on blogging, social media, and writing great content.
Who is your target audience? Who is your ideal reader?
Next, you should establish some goals:
- By what percentage do you want your readership to grow on a monthly basis?
- How many blog posts do you want to publish on a weekly basis?
- How much time do you want to spend on networking with other blogger?
Some people miss the value of having a proper strategy for a blog, so they just drift around, but if you’re intending to be successful, you need to be very clear on what you are all about and what is it that you want out of this blogging experience.
2. Listen to feedback
The most valuable content that a blogger can create is the type of content that readers want to come back to time and time again, the kind of articles that get commented on and shared.
This is why it’s important to be looking for feedback early on.
Yes, you’ll have to get your hands dirty and engage other bloggers, but you need to get that initial momentum. Don’t write in a void, while complaining about the lack of readers. That is soul-crushing at best.
Network with other bloggers. Make friends. Have fun. Once you have a few readers, listen to what they have to say.
If one post gets ten comments, and the next one zero comments, try to figure out why. Analyze patterns. There’s so much you can learn if you pay attention even to the lack of feedback.
The way your readers respond (or don’t) to your content is the best way to know if you’re headed in the right direction.
3. Find your community
When you start blogging, you may feel quite isolated from this vibrant community of tens of millions of bloggers.
Try to communicate with other bloggers in your niche just to exchange ideas and build a framework of connections. Study the most popular bloggers in your niche.
Promoting a blog does not have to be expensive (purchasing advertisements) or sleazy (begging others to visit your blog).
I didn’t pay one dime on ads, and I never asked anyone to visit my blog. I just had fun interacting with the wonderful people on WordPress.com
4. Give something for free
What about this tutorial here?
Or this checklist here?
Not only did I work hard on offering folks daily content, but I also worked on delivering free content in the form of e-books and tutorials.
You need to realize that every single visitor asks themselves this question: why should I follow this blog?
And you must do your very best to make it easy for them to answer this question.
5. Don’t be a crybaby
At some point, you’re going to be envious on some other blogger. At some other point, you’re going to believe that the game is rigged against you – that there’s no way you can become really popular.
Don’t believe a word of it.
The web is the closest thing to a meritocracy that exists for sharing ideas – the things that get you ahead are working your tail off and having good ideas.
And remember: no one likes a crybaby. And no one cares about one either.
If you want to be successful, then “more” should become your best friend.
During these months, whenever I felt like getting sad or upset because I had worked real hard on this or that article and very few folks bothered to comment, or I hadn’t reached my monthly goals of increasing my readership with at least three thousand new readers, I’d know that I had to work more.
If you want results, you need to work and work and work.
Also, remember that by sitting there being negative, you’re wasting time that you could be using to write content or promote your blog.
6. Have a plan regarding writer’s block
Even though it is easy to be excited when just starting out, and it feels as if you’ll come up with ideas for as long as you live, the truth is that creative bankruptcy is something we all have to contemplate form time to time.
Count on it, and prepare for such thing: collect ideas.
I have tens of blog post titles, introductions, some outlines. If needs be, I can finish editing any of the dozen or so blog posts that are 95% ready to be released.
7. When you’re in flow, flow with it
When you’re feeling it, try to clear your schedule for an extended period of time so you can ride the wave.
If you’re serious about blogging and get in the writing zone, ride it for as long as you can.
8. Be consistent
Many bloggers make the mistake of starting off with a posting schedule that they just can’t maintain – that is if they even have such a thing.
Most bloggers write as much as they can until they can’t write anything at all. It’s like over training, but for the brain. Then they can’t even write a sentence to save their lives.
What I’ve found is that over the first few months, as you get accustomed to your niche, to connecting seemingly unrelated dots, you’ll find out that you can write quality posts at a certain rate – your actual posting schedule should be somewhere around 60% of that. Why? Read point number six.
If you don’t know what your schedule should be at first, try shooting for five posts a week and then adjust it as needed over the first month or two. But realize that keeping to a schedule is the single best thing you can do for your blog, and constantly changing it the worst.
Readers come to have certain expectations, and if you keep breaking them… you get the idea.
9. Reply to comments
Engage your readers. Have fun. Make friends.
I know you must think of me as some broken record by now, but the truth is that building relationships with your readers is crucial to your success.
It’s not how good you are as much as it’s how good you are to your readers.
Do you reply to their comments? Do you answer their questions? Do you ask them questions? Do you listen to their feedback?
10. Don’t be a teacher
Here’s the thing: you probably know and care an awful lot about your blog’s topic. You also care a lot about your ideas, your thoughts, and your writing.
So does everyone else.
But very few can translate that passion into words. And this is what you must do, and for this to happen, you must forget about the idea that you are teaching someone something, or that you are educating folks or motivating them, or whatever.
You are only an inspiration to others if you manage to inspire yourself. You can only teach people as you learn along with them.
I write these posts to better understand the process of blogging. I’m helping myself by writing these articles more than I am helping you.
A few years ago I used to approach blogging as some sort of magic: no one knew what made a blog popular, and I even though me becoming popular was 90% blind luck and 10% perseverance. Or the other way around. I wasn’t sure.
Don’t teach, don’t preach, don’t try anything. Just be. Just be yourself, write like yourself, write the kind of stuff that makes you feel alive, that makes that fire within grow stronger.
11. Patience is a virtue
Here’s something funny about this blog. Well, maybe not that funny, but it’s something I never wrote about.
Last year I was writing a few blog post on blogging on my main blog. The thing is, I’ve been struggling for a few years to find a direction. And writing about blogging felt natural, and also people seemed to love it.
So then I decided to start this blog, and write daily on this topic. It wasn’t something I was terribly passionate about. Yes, blogging is something I am kind of good at because I’ve been doing it for so long, but the truth is that, in time, I felt as if writing blog posts for this blog wasn’t so time consuming, so difficult, so energy draining.
I ended up having a lot more fun.
Now I look forward to writing new blog posts. Now, I rarely feel like I don’t have the right mindset to write a new blog post.
Not only do you get better with time, but you’ll also love your topic a lot more, and the act of blogging itself.
But you must have patience.
I’m not saying that blogging is easy, or that if you follow these steps it’s going to be so. No.
Blogging is a lot of work. An awful lot of work. And it’s a never-ending learning process. And experimenting a lot. And failing. And picking yourself up every single time you fail. And having to try again. And again. And again.
But it’s fun. And it’s rewarding. And when folks from Romania find my blog and tell me that they are proud to be Romanian because of what I do, this kind of makes me want to become even better.