11 ways to maximize your blog traffic in 2011

This is a post by Novel Publicity President, Emlyn Chand/ Blogging—the convention’s been around long enough that most of us are over how funny this quirky, little verb sounds. I’m sure you already know that a blog is; it’s an online journal in which people write and publish posts about their lives and hobbies and sometimes receive feedback from others. Knowing the definition of “blog” is the easy part—do you know what a blog can do for you as a writer? The answer’s simple: anything you want it to.

It happened for Julie Powell.  She began a blog, which got popular and became a book (and then the 2009 film “Julie & Julia”), and now she’s a career writer—the dream!

I’m definitely not guaranteeing that a big book-movie deal will spring from your blog, but it’s always a remote possibility (an important part of being a writer is holding out for greatness against infinitesimal odds—you have to be your own biggest fan).  At the very least, having a blog will boost your web presence, lead to valuable intra-craft connections, and keep you writing.

I’ve been blogging for AnnArbor.com for about a year and a half now but only recently set up my own private reading-writing blog on WordPress.com.  Through trial and error and a lot of hard work, I’ve been able to get my blog to over 250 hits per day within less than two weeks.  You can’t put a price tag on that kind of visibility—especially if you’re an aspiring writer.

Here are 11 steps for getting the most out of your writing blog this year:

1. Make your blog user-friendly—if your blog is easy to navigate, users are more likely to stick around and check out its offerings.  Tag and categorize your posts with clear and decisive labels.  Set up various subpages to further filter information, especially if your blog covers more than one topic.  It also helps to add in widgets that offer the viewer the option of jumping to posts by category or date.  These organizational steps combined with a bit of artistic flair give your site a more professional, authoritative feeling.

2. Post regularly—you don’t want to be a sitting duck.  Make your blog interesting, dynamic, and relevant.  Post often, but not so often that you overwhelm your subscribers with update spam.  The biggest challenge for many would-be writers is getting into the habit of writing.  If you make it a point to blog 250 words per day, you’ll soon get into the writing groove.  Once you’re reliably posting that amount, you can increase the word count or designate some of your daily writing time to work on a novel or short story.

3. Use the advanced spellchecker—this feature is one of the greatest things to ever happen to me as a writer—I’m not exaggerating! TheWordPress.com advanced spelling and grammar checker is a God-sent.  Even though Microsoft Word’s standard spellchecker is a good thing to have, aren’t you sometimes frustrated when it doesn’t pick up a usage mistake (like “their,” “they’re” or “there”) just because the word is technically spelled correctly?  WordPress’s spellchecker can pick up on this type of usage error.  You can also customize its options to check for biased language, clichés, complex phrases, diacritical marks, double negatives, hidden verbs, jargon, passive voice, and redundant phrases.

4. Pay attention to your site stats—WordPress keeps track of a number of usage statistics, including your page views, top posts and pages, referrers (sites that led viewers to your blog via link), incoming links(other blogs or websites that permalink to your blog), clicks (links that viewers click on within your blog) and search engine terms. It’s easy to become mesmerized by the hit counter, watching it go up and up, and feeling giddy each time that it does.  However, the most useful stat is actually the list of top posts and pages.  It shows you which pieces of your site viewers are connecting with the most—pay attention and try to write more posts along those same lines.

5. Engage your readership—if someone posts a comment on your blog, post one back.  Provide your viewers with advice, answers to their questions, and a sense of community.  Ask them what kind of content they would like to see on the site and listen to their answers.

6. Add your site to blog search engines—blog search engines categorize blogs by topic and keyword, connecting those who have an interest in your blogging topic with your site and maximizing your visibility.  Some search engines require you to pay for their services, some ask that you post a badge on your blog, and others ask for nothing in return.  If you want to see an example of search engine badges, click here and scroll down.

7. Establish a fan page on Facebook—this will further increase your visibility and allow less web-savvy users access to your site.  Set up anRSS feed of your blog on your fan page and post regular status updates to intrigue users.  You can also guilt your friends and family into following you.

8. Tweet, tweet, and tweet some more—I started using Twitter about a week ago.  At first I didn’t understand its benefits, but after reading an entire book which taught me how to mold Twitter into the platform that would best serve me (AKA “Twitter for Dummies”), I see that Twitter is perhaps my most useful networking tool for my work as a writer. Tweet about writing and topics on your blog.  Do a search of keywords and hashtags like #writing, #amwriting, #wip and the like to connect with other writers.  Build a following.  You can also channel your RSS feed to Twitter.

9. Visit related blogs and post comments—it’s all about building a community of like-minded people.  Engage others who blog about the same topics that you do.  They just might come over and check out your blog.  Maybe you’ll find a new friend in the process.  One writing-publishing blog that I follow obsessively is www.nathanbrandsford.com.  This site has a huge following with well-thought-out posts and an extremely active set of forums.

10. Post on trendy or seasonal topics—I’m not asking you to completely change the focus of your blog and be a trend chaser.  Instead write posts about how the latest news or the current holiday season relates to your topic of choice.  One example would be the piece I wrote about resolving to read more in 2011.

11. Create a team of blog contributors—By involving other writers on your blog, you’re doing something that is mutually beneficial for both parties. You’ll gain new content for your blog and maybe get a bit of rest for the day. Now let’s say that your guest writer has no blogging platform of his own—by posting on your site, he’ll reach the audience that frequents your blog, thus gaining some exposure for himself. If your guest writer does have a blog, he’ll reach your readership in addition to his own, plus his followers may hop on over to check out your blog. Win-win.

*Please note: Since I blog with WordPress.com (not .org—know the difference), some of my tips are WordPress-centric. You should still be able to take these tips and adapt them for other blogging platforms without too much difficulty.

That’s it!  As always I’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have about this post or writing in general.  Happy blogging!

 


Emlyn Chand, President of Novel PublicityEmlyn Chand was born with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Novel Publicity's mascot is a Sun Conure, thanks to her obsession with birds–and she gets to decide anyway since she is the company's founder and president. Although her first novel Farsighted won the prestigious Writer's Digest Self-Published Novel of the Year award in 2012 for the YA category, she now writes most of her fiction under her “real” name, Melissa Storm. Learn more or connect with her (or her Sun Conure, Ducky!) on either of her author websites:  www.emlynchand.com or www.melstorm.com. You can also friend her on Facebook, tweet with her @novelpublicity, or send her an email via [email protected].

Emlyn Chand

If you first viewed this article before 8 PM EST on 1/3/2011, please note that I’ve updated Tip #11 to make it clear that I was not urging the bloggers of the world to exploit overworked, underpaid wannabe-writers!

tsuchigari

Hi! I found you through the wonder that is Twitter and couldn’t wait to leave you a note. Love your tips and agree with all of them especially being proactive in seeking out readers through commenting. Now, I need to get my hands on the Twitter for Dummies book so I can tweet like a pro.

Emlyn Chand

Thanks for the note, tsuchigari! I love getting encouragement.

Yes, I would highly recommend “Twitter for Dummies.” I was lost without it. Now I understand how to use Twitter to make friends and drive traffic to my site.

If you let me know what your needs are, I can give you a few tips right here in the comment thread. One tip to get you started: do lots of Twitter searches,reply directly to what tweeters are saying, eventually they’ll reply back.

Sector3Report

Emlyn this was a great post and very timely for me. I have a wordpress blog as well. Still lots of learning for me. We seem to be in the same boat with learning WordPress Twitter etc but you seem to be learning faster than me – dang. Well thanks for your post, I am a follower now and will on twitter as well. look for me (at)sector3report(dot)com

    Emlyn Chand

    Hi. I’m glad you could benefit from my insights.

    I plan on posting more in a series about social media for writers. Right now, I’m challenging myself to reach a grade of 100 on Twittergrader.com. When I achieve that, I’m going to write about using Twitter to promote your writing platform.

    BTW, if you think I’m learning fast, it’s probably because I am spending so much time on learning it. Check out the cost of writing (https://emlynchand.com/writing/cost/). Observe how much time I’ve spent “developing platform” and “reading about writing” (which means reading Twitter for Dummies). And these numbers are just since the New Year began. I’m also not including the full amount of time I spend tweeting. Oh, and did I mention that I also have a full time job? I’ve pretty much given up everything else that there is in life (time with husband and pets, television, reading for leisure, exercise, and eating properly) to help develop my platform.

    “Ambitious Ambigue” is not just the name of this blog; it’s how I live my life!

    I’ll stop by your blog when I get the chance.

      Sector3Report

      Whew, I am glad to know it is not an intellect thing – it is a time thing. Since the new year i have been reading THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE. And my dogs are needy. Guess I will have to kick the dogs to the curb and switch to reading Twitter for Dummies.

      Emlyn Chand

      You definitely get out what you put in, but it’s not just a time thing. I think it’s also a charismatic and karmic thing. If you are likable and willing to help others, people recognize that and will seek you out. I plan on blogging a lot more about blogging karma, so stay tuned!

Andrea Beltran

Can definitely identify with you last comment, Emlyn. I am surprised my husband and dogs still like me!

Thanks for this great post. I am working on “developing my platform” and am lost in regard to my blog. I think I need to narrow my focus, but don’t know exactly what to focus on. I will be browsing the technological “self-help” section this weekend. 😉

All best to you, Andrea Beltran

    Emlyn Chand

    It’s hard to keep all of the balls air-born at once isn’t it? What you blog/write about?

    If you haven’t already, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I will do my best to answer any questions and will continue to provide advice for the tech-savvy writer.

      Andrea Beltran

      That’s the problem…I pretty much write about life and incorporate poetry into my blog. (https://andreakristen.blogspot.com)So far, so good, but I have a lot of learning to do and a long way to go. One day at a time. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment. All best to you. 🙂 Following you on Twitter and looking forward to more of your advice.

Kyshowna

This was Defenently helpfull!! This gives me hope and motivation!

    Emlyn Chand

    I’m glad that you’re able to extract something of value from my advice, Kyshowna. I’m always happy to answer any questions over on my Writer Karma forum. Happy blogging!

    https://emlynchand.com/interact/karma/

Lindsay

Good post. I’m recently in the process of rebuilding, having taken down my old Webs.com blog (it was such a pain to use!) and jumped onto blogger. At first I was very concerned about rebranding myself but so far, so good. I’m doing my first guest blog on another site next month and slowly but surely building followers. Good tips for all of us – thank you for posting:)

    Emlyn Chand

    I’m glad I could help! Did you see my more recent post about the benefits of WordPress vs. BlogSpot? I plan on writing about social media and tech tips for writers every Wednesday, so let me know if you have any specific topics that you’d like to see covered.

Stupidgirl45

Thanks, this is a great post as I’m starting to get just under 100 hits per day on my blog but the categories/labels tip is really sensible.
Also asking what people want and ensuring you do more of most popular posts (these have surprised me!) I follow you on twitter but will follow your blog now too!

    Emlyn Chand

    That’s fantastic. I’ll go check out your blog and add it to my friends’ blogs bookmark. Who are you on Twitter?–it can be tough to keep everybody straight. We should chat more, and, yes, let me know which blogging/tech topics you’d like to see more of around here.

      Emlyn Chand

      Oh, you don’t have a gravatar profile. I’ll be needing the link to your blog, madame.

McKinney Publishing

Excellent advice. Your posts are perfect for stressing to new writers that there is much more involved than writing the next great manuscript. To all, if you aren’t already, @NovelPublicity is a MUST FOLLOW on Twitter.

Emlyn

Thanks, my publishing friend! I’m surprised by how many authors aren’t aware of the need to support the art of writing with the business of marketing oneself. I hope to make it a much easier task for them, one blog post at a time. Thanks for checking in 🙂

Becca

Trying hard to follow your tips and implement them into my site. Thanks for all you advice and help. Glad I came over and read this again. 🙂

Emlyn

I’m glad that my advice helps! Today, I’ll be blogging “The Busy Author’s Guide to Twitter: Stop Tweeting and Start Writing Again.” Here’s another great tip proven to up your traffic: Sign-up for a blogger twitterview. I’ll be doing one per day for the month of March. You can read the past testimonials to see how great it is for traffic-driving.

B.C. Young

Great advice. I’ve implemented many of the above and how found it to be effective.

Erin Reel

Great post, Emlyn! Thanks for sharing. So glad to have found you on twitter!

    Emlyn

    Thanks, Erin. Would you believe that this is the post that started it all for me? I wrote this one week into starting my private blog (had been doing news blogging for a couple of years at that point). The article just took off and told me that what writers wanted from me was social media advice 🙂

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