Ask the Experts: How to Increase your Audience
Hello and welcome to the first in a series of posts I call, Ask the Experts. This series is dedicated to newbie (and not-so-newbie) bloggers where questions are answered by some of the best veteran bloggers working today.
I have been blogging just short of a year now. I’ve learned a lot, made plenty of mistakes and had fun most of the time. As I reflect on how I did in 2017 in terms of blogging, I would definitely say that I am still in the beginner stage. And I’m not talking about the technical side of things – those have been issues on their own – I’m talking about putting myself out there.
When I started, I didn’t have any social media profiles – FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram were not in my vocabulary. Now, I’m out there and it’s fun but wow, it can be a time suck! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it but after what seems like a couple of clicks, an hour has vanished. So I definitely need to focus on being, well, focused. Something to strive for in 2018.
Ask the Experts: How to Find and Increase your Audience?
So with that in mind, I thought what would other bloggers do? And then I thought, why don’t I just ask them – they are the experts. It’s one thing to have a blog and social media profiles. It’s a whole other thing to have an audience. I mean, I built it but nobody came. (Field of Dreams, anyone?)
I reached out to some of my favorite bloggers and I wanted to get their take on how to gain traction as a newbie. I posed this question: How do you increase your subscriber list, traffic, and page views? And here’s what I got…
Elna Cain, owner of Twins Mommy
I cannot tell you how much I look forward to reading anything that Elna Cain writes, be it blog posts or emails. Maybe it’s because I watch her FaceBook live videos. I can hear her as I read her writing. She has the most soothing voice and she’s a mom of twins! My voice by the end of the day is pretty much hoarse from the
yelling mothering that I do. Seriously though, Elna is a force in the blogging world and a freelance writer to boot. I’m a student of Elna’s class Ready, Set, Blog for Traffic which is a terrific course for those who are just getting started or for those that are struggling with that feeling of “I have a blog but what now?”
Here’s what Elna had to say about getting started…
As a newbie to blogging there are so many things you have to know right? From understanding your WordPress platform to social media to SEO and more. What do you pay attention to and how does that help to gain more eyes to your blog?
When I started Twins Mommy, it was in an over-saturated niche: mom bloggers talking about making money. I needed to find a way to get noticed, generate traffic and build a loyal audience.
The first thing I did was to show my authenticity. This is important if you want to build an audience. People follow people, not blogs. So develop your voice on your blog, share your fails and successes and let your readers know who you really are.
The second thing I did was develop a promotional strategy. I needed to attract traffic! For that I stuck with Pinterest and Facebook.
Finally I needed to hook my visitors to stay on my blog and become subscribers. And I did this by creating an engaging blog with valuable posts. I made sure my blog was the answer to my readers’ questions.
Terra Dawn, owner of Uncork Your Dork
To say that I found a kindred spirit in Terra Dawn is an understatement. I actually learned about Terra from Elna Cain (I’m telling you, she knows all!). When I opened up her awesome and cleverly-named website, Uncork Your Dork, I was hooked. Terra recently re-branded her site and it looks amazing! Her love of sci-fi, fantasy and comics really comes through in her branding and it truly speaks to me.
After a quick discussion about Doctor Who and Harry Potter, here’s what Terra had to say…
I have three pieces of advice for new (AND seasoned) bloggers!!
1) Keep your traffic on your website! It sounds silly…but bloggers use a lot of tools as they grow their website and business. We use email sign up forms, systems for building opt in pages and sales page, course systems, etc. MOST of these platforms are hosted on other websites like Lead Pages, ConvertKit and Teachable. These are all wonderful systems…but they are sending traffic AWAY from your blog. Keep in mind that there are a lot of plugins you can use to create these pages and courses like OptimizePress, or even the ConvertKit and Leadpage plugins!!
2) Give away the kitchen sink! This is something I talk about a LOT. Except in a webinar…which is a whole different ballgame, you CAN’T give away SO much information that your readers won’t buy what you have for sale. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The more you can convince your readers that you are GENERALLY out to help them succeed and NOT just take their money…you’ll be more likely to find a fan.
SO, really niche down and find the solution you want to offer your readers…then really set out to help to as best you can. Create free mini-courses, workbooks, ebooks or other useful downloads. THAT’S how you build traffic and increase your list.
3) Finally…don’t wait to reach out and work with other bloggers. Find bloggers, vloggers and podcasters who might be willing to collaborate with you! This can be an interview, a pre-written post, a product launch, a webinar and more. You’ll get the biggest surge in traffic and sign ups when you join forces with other industry professionals that share your audience. (There’s an entire course AND challenge on influencer marketing inside of the “Blogger’s Guide to Traffic” membership site!)
Mel Karlik, owner of A Prettier Web
My website is a WordPress blog. When I first decided to start a blog, I went on Pinterest for inspiration. This is where I came across Mel Karlik from A Prettier Web. Mel is a WordPress theme developer and her website is geared toward helping women entrepreneurs or Fempreneurs. Her themes have a strong, yet feminine look and Mel offers great advice on her blog on how to run your website like a pro.
I checked in with Mel to get her take on gaining that traffic traction…
As a new blogger, I think the best way to get your initial traffic is to write some blog posts that are SEO optimized. Use the Google Keyword Planner to find keywords to include in your blog post. Also, do a bit of competitive research on Similar Web and see what kind of articles are getting traffic for similar blogs and create your own version. Make sure you have google analytics installed so you monitor your traffic.
Mailchimp or Mailerlite is FREE to use when you don’t have a lot of subscribers so I recommend you add a newsletter subscribe form right away.
Next, I’d work on an opt-in that will be more enticing for visitors to subscribe to your newsletter (offer some high quality freebie). I find the number one thing bloggers regret is not collecting subscribers from day ONE! Keep writing blog posts and share your freebie everywhere you can. Keep checking your analytics – that will be a big CLUE as to what’s working and what’s not.
Ashlee Anderson, owner of Work From Home Happiness
If I were to come up with a mantra for my blog, it would probably have something to do with blending work with home to find balance. When I stopped working to be a SAHM, I didn’t necessarily want to stop working, but it wasn’t worth doing just to pay for daycare. That’s when I discovered Ashlee Anderson’s blog, Work From Home Happiness and her mantra: Real careers. No cubicles. I love that! Ashlee’s website gives you the in’s and out’s on working from the comfort of your home.
Check out Ashlee’s advice for increasing traffic…
Pinterest was a huge traffic boost for my blog, especially around the one-year mark of being up and running. At that time, I finally started adding vertical images to all my blog posts and used a plugin called Social Warfare to encourage others to share my posts onto Pinterest.
For email subscribers, I swear by content upgrades. Readers can heavily guard their email addresses — and for good reason! Spam is horrible, and no one wants to receive too many emails in a day. So, to get readers to give me their email addresses, I give them something in exchange: Content upgrades.
Elise Cohen Ho, owner of Ask Dr. Ho and United We Parent
Starting out with something new is enough to give anyone anxiety. When I started blogging, I was scared. I had never done anything like this before. I had heard stories of creeps and trolls on the faceless interwebs but I didn’t let it stop me. In fact, I am pleased to report that the blogging community is not only welcoming, but also friendly and helpful. One the most helpful people who I have had the pleasure of working with is Dr. Elise Cohen Ho, who has a website by the same name. Every week, Elise hosts a “Tip Sharing Party” where she welcomes bloggers to contribute posts to share with her audience of thousands. Elise will also take the time to read the posts and provide feedback, which is amazing.
For all that Elise has done for me and many other bloggers out there, I had to get her advice and here’s what she had to say…
When it comes to gaining traction one of the most important things is consistency. It is second only to being authentic.
Whether you are able to post, three times per week, once per week or even just once per month make certain that whatever cadence you choose you can stick with it. If you only post to your blog (or social media) once in a blue moon then folks will forget about you no matter how good you are. It is sad but true.
And about that authenticity. You will hear much advice on knowing what your audience wants and giving it to them. That is sage advice but, in my not so humble opinion, this advice should be served with a grain of salt. Do not lose yourself in your messaging, do not be afraid to offer your opinions. This is why people are coming to you and your blog. They want to hear from you, they want to know your opinion on whatever subject it is you write about. Yes, be aware of what your audience wants and yes, my advice may cause you to lose a few followers. However, those people were not your ideal audience anyway. It is all well and good to have big numbers but if they are not your ideal people then it is okay to let a few people go.
I hope that this has helped anyone who is interested in blogging, already blogging or just wanting to try something new. In compiling the information from these fabulous ladies, I know I learned a lot. I want to thank Elna Cain, Terra Dawn, Mel Karlik, Ashlee Anderson and Elise Cohen Ho for their contributions to this post.
If you have any ideas for a future post or have a burning blogging question for the Ask the Experts series, please send me an email at email@example.com or feel free to comment below.