The Business of Blogging – Backstage

It’s probably the number one question that any new blogger asks themselves. You’ve got a cute new blog design, a decent bit of nice content (3 months worth minimum) and a clear, defined voice that you just know potential readers will love. So you’ve built it, but why haven’t they come?

Well, guess what. We started there too. Here is a look at our traffic growth over the years. Remember these are pageviews, not unique visitors.

  • Month 1 – 2,301 Pageviews
  • Month 6 -34,730 Pageviews
  • Month 12 -167,160 Pageviews
  • End of Year 2 -1,097,830 Pageviews
  • End of Year 3 – 3,083,808 Pageviews
  • Current End of Month (March, 2011) – 11, 167,107 Pageviews

Remember that we came into the game before there were a gazillion other wedding blogs to compete with so timing was DEFINITELY on our side. But, regardless, I am more than happy to tell you what worked and what didn’t work for us. Let me preface this by saying that I am 1/2 of the equation. The VERY not technical half. My husband Tait can speak to this in a much more involved way, but sometimes it’s nice to hear from the one that experienced blogging without any training or tech savvy.  Feel free to chime in with your own ideas and/or questions.

Ask Others to Link to You via Blog Rolls. Duh. Obviously, right? Not so fast missy. My husband (the tech half) still believes that creating an extensive but carefully curated blog roll is the key to finding loyal readers. Once you have a blog on your own roll, you can then approach them to link to you. Simple as that, but very very effective.

Write Guest Posts for Other Blogs. Here’s the thing. It’s great to just get a link out of someone and if they offer, say yes. But it’s also nice to blog for them. Say on their day off or as a way to offer some of your expertise. This works especially well if you have an expertise in something. Ha. Here are some of the guest posts that I wrote in my early days. Creative People and their Creative Spaces on Design*Sponge / Real Weddings on The Bride’s Guide / Oh Joy! Currently Loving Series

Hold Contests and Giveaways. Every time we have inspiration board contests, we email a bunch of our blogger friends to let them know. It doesn’t always work in getting us links, but sometimes it does. Our first contest, way back in the day, found itself mentioned on Oh Joy! And that got us a lot of new readers. Plus everyone loves free stuff so people are more likely than not to help you spread the word.

Write Consistently Every Day. There is nothing better for search traffic than content. The phrase Content Is King ain’t dead people so KEEP. ON. WRITING. And write thoughtful content that readers want to devour. 300 words or more per day is a good goal to aim for.

Encourage a Conversation. One of the things that I did very early on was to create a space that was welcoming. Check out some of my earlier posts…

1. Preppy but Elegant: I designed an inspiration board for one of our readers, totally customized to her own style and wedding ideas. This welcomed readers in, letting them know that I was going to get my hands dirty WITH them, not just speak AT them. And, I set the stage for what SMP was all about. A fun place to discuss inspiration.

2. Sephora Contest: For this one, I ponied up my own money for a Sephora giftcard. Fifty bucks. Not much to most, but a lot for a jobless blogger. More importantly, I used that $50 to get a conversation going. I asked a pointed question and to enter the contest, readers had to answer in the comments section. It was a great way for me to learn more about my readers and ensure that I was tailoring content to the type of people that were out there reading every day.

3. Morning Reads: I wrote about other bloggers. A lot. And those other bloggers loved it and were more likely to mention me in some way. It was a good early strategy.

My posts were very different than what we do now, but I have been going back to them more and more as a reminder of how to get and keep loyal readers. How to encourage my writers to engage in a conversation and to create an intimate, community feel with their writing. It’s proof that if you ask questions, respond to comments and get the conversation going, your readers will stick around.

Provide a Service. SMP really started with the inspiration board. I would craft these e-boards for specific readers with gobs and gobs of comments surrounding each board citing specific ideas that I thought they could implement to achieve that look. Readers LOOOVED this. It’s always nice to have feedback from someone in the industry so readers really stuck around to read it. My point? Use what you know to gain followers. If you are a graphic designer, offer to do logos. If you are an artist, offer up a personal sketch. If you have a skill, pony it up for free every now and then and people will love you!

Advertising. Confession. When I was just starting out, I bought text ads on The Knot. I know, I know. Craziness. But, it actually did help me. It probably brought in a grand total of a 100 new readers, but because I worked really hard at engaging the readers, a lot of them seemed to stick around. Then they talked about SMP on the local knot forums and more readers came. I didn’t spend more than a couple hundred dollars and I probably would never do that again, but at the time, it did bring in a small audience.

Become Part of a Community. As I’ve started bringing on more writers, many of whom write their own blogs, I’ve noticed something. The guest bloggers have become friends. Erin Ever After is friends with Life in the Superburbs. Who is friends with Brancoprata. Who is friends with The Knotty Bride. And it goes on and on. They support each other, they link to each other, they bring new readers to each other’s sites. Buddy up with some other bloggers and you just might find yourself with a whole new audience.

Those are the things that I did very early on. And they work. With that said, there are a million other things that you can do to improve your reach. Join different web directories (like Technorati and Alltop), provide RSS and email subscription options, add sharing buttons to your posts, optimize your titles, etc. etc. etc. And we’ll make a point of addressing some of these in later posts.

But for now, this is a start. Especially for all of you bloggers that are just starting out, wondering how in God’s name you are going to build up your traffic.  I really like this article on ProBlogger about those lonely first days of blogging. The point is that even though it might feel like no one is reading, if you are serious about blogging, you have to keep pushing forward. Through the awkwardness, through the loneliness. If your content is really good, they will eventually come.

42 Responses to “Eight Easy Ways To Get Traffic To Your Blog”

  1. Thank you for this! I’m just starting out and am over the high of beginning and starting to feel lonely…I’ve done a few things on your list but I am encouraged to reach out more!

  2. I love that you’re blogging about the business behind SMP! Great traffic-driving tips, and I love the chevron background.

  3. Erica L. says:

    Thank you for this article and for sharing your own experience with blogging! I’m brand new and still learning the ropes. Unlike other “how-tos” I’ve read, this one seems genuinely happy to help. What a great addition to SMP!

  4. Colleen Kemp says:

    Thanks so much for sharing!! I took to heart your advice from an old backstage post where you talked about blogging and have since tried to post consistently and even link or re-post if I need to. It was the best advice, and although I don’t have a ton of readers, my daily subscriptions and pageviews continue to increase! Can’t wait to implement more of these tips! :)

  5. Jenni says:

    Thank you for your insight! My blog is very new and Style Me Pretty has been a huge inspiration behind what I’m doing. My blog is a resource for local brides, working to create community and provide information about local vendors in order to make their wedding planning process easier. I love it, but it also has been a HUGE challenge. My job now is to take the wise words you’ve shared and try to apply them to a blog with a narrow view and very limited audience. Any tips or advice there is more than welcome!!

  6. Naomi says:

    You have always been a source of great inspiration and I love that you share your knowledge with others.

  7. I love all of these points especially that last line! I have to remind myself every once in awhile that I am blogging because I love it and eventually other people will love it too!

  8. Thank you so much Abby for sharing all this information. I am not necessarily a new blogger but have been having a hard time with the fact of not fully knowing if people are looking at my blogs. :( It helps so much to be able to read this information and know that I too can put these pointers into practice.
    Thanks again!

  9. Super cool!!!! Thanks soooo much for sharing!!!

    Im new at the blog thing…. http://www.JudiPaintedit.blogspot.com and this is a HUGE help!!!

    xoxo

  10. Wow! This is certainly helpful! Thanks for sharing Abby!

  11. It’s so great to be reminded of the basics: keeping your readers engaged and interacting with them. Favorite takeaway message of yours is “get my hands dirty WITH them, not just speak AT them.” Thanks for the great post.

  12. kateanon says:

    You made very good points, some of which I could use… thank you.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Great article!!! Thanks so much for sharing your insight…I’ll definitely be utilizing all of these tips:)

  14. kelsey says:

    I love blogging so much that I did it when I didn’t make money. Now, I make very little. I totally believe all your points. Promote others, and, who knows, you might get promoted! Thanks for these tips!

  15. Cathy Wall says:

    Such a timely and insightful article. I have been consistently blogging for quite a few months and am feeling like I need to get over a hump and be decisive about where I want this to go. Your ideas will help me to evaluate how to carry on, Thanks!
    Cathy

  16. Charmayne says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thaaaaaaaank you! The honeymoon phase of me blogging is now over. Just went thru a week of some serious blogging blues but this article is definitely a picker upper!!! Truly a God send!!! Very grateful for the advice.

  17. Emma says:

    Thank you for these great tips which I’m sure will become invaluable to us new to the blogging game!

  18. Amanda says:

    Wow, great tips! I stumbled on this entry through another blog – thank you for taking the time to write this out!

  19. Anita D. says:

    This is wonderful! Very helpful, and NEEDED!
    Thanks heaps for your time. This will be invaluable:)

  20. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom! It is definitely helpful to know that even the biggest blogs started in the same place I’m in :)

  21. Great advice, Abby. It helps that it’s not in super-techy language as well! I’m a few months into blogging, and at the moment I don’t look at my readership count yet (my boyfriend however checks it daily, but just tells me that “I’m on the right track”. The reason? I don’t want my blog to be all about the numbers right now – I do it for the love of blogging, and for the love of inspiring people, and for the wonderful comments I get from my readers. One day curiosity is going to get the better of me, but for now, I’m concentrating on putting out the best content (both written and visual) that I can, finding my blogging “voice” and connecting with the readers who get in touch. Thanks for this article, it was really helpful :)
    ~el

  22. Alix H. says:

    A very good pep talk! Thanks.

  23. Cri says:

    Lots of good hints there!
    Tks ♥

  24. Thanks so much for sharing your advice! My blog has been up for 3 months, and while it’s great to see my readership going up, meeting other bloggers and wedding pro’s is actually my favourite part!! I definitely believe being part of a community is the way to a successful blog!

  25. Thanks for this – this is awesome! I started my blog on May 1, and LOVE this wedding blog community… Thanks for the pep talk!

  26. Margarida says:

    This is such a great article.
    Although I’ve been blogging for 6 years only a couple of years ago I started “practising” some of these rules and the result is, in numbers:
    First 5 years of blogging: 100.000 visits
    The 6th year: 50.000 visits

    :-)))

  27. This is great advice! I remember my first blog comment ever: it was from Annie from ‘Marry You Me’. I was ecstatic. I think commenting on others’ blogs is really encouraging, especially to newer bloggers! Let someone know you’re there, reading. Engage.

  28. I just watched your CBS interview and researched more on how you started SMP and came across this page. As most other readers have commented, you really have provided such valuable information. I’ve recently started a wedding blog for HK brides-to-be and the advice you’ve given is very encouraging. Definitely think photos speak louder than words so the more the better!

  29. Tait says:

    Thanks Cindy!

  30. thaoski says:

    Loved this. Thank you for sharing so openly!

  31. Valerie Ott says:

    Thanks for this post. I’m a struggling blogger…have been at it for 3 years and write 3-4 posts a week now and my traffic has consistently grown but I’m only up to an average of 1300 pageviews a month. When you say “approach people” to be on their blogroll, do you mean actually just email them and ask? It seems like successful bloggers would care less about linking to me. Also, you mention having blogging friends. I know NO one else who does what I do…how do you meet blogging friends?

  32. Thank you so much for sharing this Abby! Thank you for encouraging the newbies to keep at it!

  33. thefilmtroll says:

    Thanks Abby, not completely suits for my site do to I post pictures but still great advices.

  34. Maintain the excellent job mate. This web blog publish shows how well you comprehend and know this subject.

  35. Mika says:

    I appreciate this post so much! I’m devouring all your posts about blogging tips because I am a very new blogger (my first post was yesterday and I have one coming tomorrow) and I love what you’ve done with yours. Can’t wait to keep reading (:

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