Before I begin, I’d like to give credit where credit is due: the following recommendations are a curated list of strategies first proposed by Marie Forleo in B-School and Derek Halpern in his fantastic program, Blog That Converts. These are tips that I’ve found most effective for myself and my clients. It’s not exhaustive by any means. Rather, I hope it will serve as a starting point for helping to build your audience.
(p.s. Just a head’s up that I’m an affiliate for Marie’s B-School. I’m not sure that Derek has an affiliate program for Blog that Converts, but I would totally be on board if he did — it’s excellent).
1. Capture Emails to Build Your List
List-building is the #1 rule to comes to running a successful blog or site. You build your list by placing what’s called an ‘Opt-In’ Form on your site, asking visitors to provide their email address in exchange for something. That something could be as simple as weekly blog updates straight to their inbox, or you could offer a free gift as an extra perk (and motivator) to signup. Whatever you offer, it’s critical that it create value. And, just because you’re offering it for free, doesn’t mean it can be shoddy. It should represent your best work.
How do you get an Opt-In form on your site? First you need to sign up for an Email Marketing Account. Personally, I use and love MailChimp. Their user interface is clean and simple to use, and they provide ready-to-embed opt-in forms that you can easily drop into your site.
Once you have the form in place, you’ll want to make sure you have things like confirmation and welcome emails in place, so you can make your new subscriber feel welcome and remind them how much they mean to you.
And, don’t get discouraged – list-building can be a slow process. Stick with it. Even if you have just a handful of subscribers for awhile, they are your biggest fans and are hungry for what you have to say. No one but you knows how large or small your list is — and it shouldn’t matter. What matters is that you provide your members with high-quality content that will improve their lives.
2. Write Consistently and Regularly
Now that you have subscribers, they will expect and want to hear from you. If you engage your fans with regular, high-quality content, they are more likely to share that content with others and keep the conversation going.
Consistency is key. Don’t let too much time lapse between email blasts, but be careful not to bombard your subscribers with so many emails that it becomes an annoyance. To ensure consistency, I recommend creating an Editorial Calendar for up to 6-months in advance. Whether you’re writing daily, weekly, or monthly, the idea is to plan out your topics ahead of time, so that you aren’t scrambling around for a good idea the night before content is due.
Google Calendars is a great tool for keeping an Editorial Calendar. And, if you use WordPress, you can create Saved Drafts in your Posts section and even schedule their publish date for a specific time in the future (if you use that WP feature, just make sure the content is ready to be published when the time comes!).
I like sending out a newsletter to my list once-a-week. If I feel inspired to write more than one blog post in a given week, I still only email my list once, but I make sure to link to all the content I’ve created that week, so no one misses out on anything.
Another perk to writing regularly: it will inject your site with organic SEO-building keywords, which can only mean good things for your Google rankings. This is a topic in and of itself, so I won’t get into SEO now, but rest assured that if you make writing consistently a priority, good things will happen.
3. Write Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is content that doesn’t lose relevance. It holds as much value two years from now, as it did the first day you published it. This allows you to focus on quality over quantity.
Evergreening your site or blog will allow you re-promote top-performing content at different times. Maintaining a successful blog does not mean creating content to exhaustion. A better strategy is learning how to promote your most valuable stuff over and over again, to attract new folks who are just finding you for the first time.
So, when creating your Editorial Calendar, ask yourself: is this topic time-sensitive, or will it stand the test of time?
4. Contribute to Other Blogs and Sites
When you’re found your groove, contributing to other sites and blogs is a huge step in gaining more traffic. The key is to approach other blogs that attract your ideal audience. This may take some time, as you may need to go out and find where your audience is conversing. But, I have a hunch that you may already be in those spaces.
If you feel uneasy about approaching the blog’s owner about contributing, make a presence as a valuable commenter first. When you’ve established your value as part of the engaged audience, feel confident in approaching the owner about contributing more.
When you’re ready to do this, I recommend having content prepared and ready. Perhaps something that you’ve written specifically for that space and catering uniquely to it’s audience. Most importantly, add value.
The point of all this, of course, is to be seen – to get your content in front of audiences larger than yours, so you can expand your reach. Keep in mind that the goal is not to steal fans from one site and bring them to yours — the goal is to align.
One more note on this: don’t be afraid to reach high when guest contributing. It’s good to have a wishlist of places you’d like your writing to ultimately appear, But, when just starting out, also be open to approaching site owners who are in the process of audience-building themselves. Those folks will probably be very eager to collaborate, as they can also benefit greatly from aligning audiences.
5. Use Your Friends
This may be a no-brainer, but do not limit sharing your work with just your email list (unless you’ve promised exclusive content). After you’ve written that brilliant article, blast it out to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. If you believe in what you’re sharing, your friends will be your biggest champions.
6. Provide a Call-To-Action
This is the last tip, but a super important one. At the end of any article or blog post, you must, must, must have a call-to-action. A CTA is direct invitation for your reader to do something. It could be that you want them to leave a comment to keep the conversation going. Or perhaps you’d like them to share the article on Facebook or Twitter. Or maybe, the CTA is an opt-in form, asking new readers to subscribe to free updates.
Chances are, if you provided highly valuable information for free, your readers are going to want to thank you. Make it easy for them, and tell them exactly how you would like them to show their gratitude.
So there they are – my top 6 recommendations for building traffic to your site or blog. I can’t stress enough that doing this will take time and energy, and it won’t happen overnight. But, if you keep at it and implement every item on this list, I guarantee you’ll be rewarded.
Do you think these strategies are worth implementing? Do any of the tips feel daunting or unclear? Tell me in the comments!
To any new visitors out there, if you’ve found this post helpful and would like to submit your own question to my Q&A, sign up below for my list and you’ll have your very own chance to pick my brain. (You’ll also get my free guide Free Clarity Guide with signup).