Four Fast Tips to Get More Traffic for Free!

Are you obsessed with your statistics?  They are fun, and free. They greet you every time you open your dashboard with a friendly little circle that blinks as you wait impatiently thinking, “OPEN, OPEN, OPEN.” My husband, Vince, asked, “Why are you interested in more people visiting your website, anyway?  Don’t you have enough?  Do you want everybody to love you?”

No, I'm not quitting my day job.

He does look sad, but that’s a thought-provoking question.  It relates right back to the website’s purpose. Even though I had a vanity blog, my real goal was that somebody would notice my blog and say to me, “Marsha, you are such an awesome blogger, would you mind if our publishing company bought some of your material?”  I did get “awesome blog here” every day from spammers, but it did not jump starting my  writing/photography career. For a vanity blog, there really isn’t a need for more traffic, but for authors who want to sell more books, or for photographers promoting their art, traffic is important.

Content Is Key

Bloggers become less concerned with statistics as they gain blogging experience. It takes time to develop good blog posts. It takes time to process photos or art. I read all the WordPress articles about bringing in traffic. Consistency is one that I took seriously. I wrote and published nearly 650 posts on TChistorygal.net. Some of them are good, some of them I removed. I thought I had to post something every day to attract traffic. On my Blogger website, I concentrated on history and Woodlake. I have 15% of the number of posts and 33% of the number of views. Yet, it was one post I did on both of the blogs about Woodlake, that attracted an editor who offered me a contract to write a book about the history of Woodlake. She liked my style of writing, but it was the content that she needed for her publisher.

Blah sky photoshopped into blue.

  • Use Tags: Since content matters, your reader has to find your content quickly. WordPress tells you which of your tags are searched most often.  Statistics exists to tell writers what subjects are most often searched, but I found that approach tedious. If you have skills, write about them. Develop, practice and refine your skills, just as I am doing with writing. Readers skim. If they like the topic, they might read it.
  • Start Well: Just like the opening paragraph captures a reader’s interest in fiction, if the first few words of an article sound boring, I look for something else. I’m working on that in my writing. I’m reading authors I like and paying close attention to how they begin each chapter. In non-fiction blogs, we can’t murder the protagonist’s best friend in the opening paragraph, but we have other techniques that work. Good authors and speakers often start with a quote from a well-known or loved person. I have a Brainy Quotes account, and I search for specific topic I’m planning to cover. Questions sometimes attract a reader. Shocking facts grab attention, too.
  • Tell a Story: Even non-fiction has a narrative.  The other day an author friend of mine came over to see me. He’d been looking at my blog, and decided it was time that I published something else. “You have more than enough material to start publishing now. Let me show you what I’ve done, and how easy it was for me to do it once I had published one book through a traditional publisher.” I sat spellbound for probably two hours as he narrated the awkward tale when he learned the truth about his birth. You can read his story, April in Paris Rendezvous with my mother. Non-fiction does not need to be boring.
  • Use Photos and Video: Our technology team at Tulare County Office of Education, where I was a consultant before I retired, spoiled me. If I needed to know how to use Photoshop, Edmoto, Google Docs, or any other program, I could get a private tutor. (The gurus learned the programs from YouTube.) This is not the case now that I’m retired. Now I have to run to Google and I search for videos. For example, when I was the Executive Director of California Council for the Social Studies, I did not have a secretary. I was it. I needed to do a mail merge, and could not figure out how to make it work. Lucky for me some kind blogger created a video just for me and put it on YouTube. I do not have any writing or blogging videos, or I would embed them in my post. You may have skills that someone needs to know. Record them. You may go viral. Just like authors make money and get established making speeches, my husband tells me that folks creating videos can make millions of dollars just posting their work and selling advertizing.

Authentic AssessmentsR

My experience confirms that content will draw in traffic quickly if someone wants to know what you are doing. My editor told me, “Marsha, you do not need a big following of readers. We look for people who have readers, and have relationships with readers, but not necessarily lots of readers.”

We have no idea when we first start blogging who will read our content. The most popular post I ever published on my random blog is “Authentic Assessments for History Social Science.” I had written part of a project for California Department of Education that may or may not have ever been published, but I learned from it, and wrote this article as one of my first blog posts. Every year it gets hundreds of hits because at least one university teacher uses it with her college students.

If we tag our posts accurately, create a catchy beginning, weave the story, and make it visual and auditory, we will quickly draw an audience, without having to pay $29 per 500 clicks or $10 per boost. So what content will you use to build your next post? No one can do it quite like you do. Enjoy the process.

Blogging Badge2

 

Resolution: Start Blogging, But What? How? Three Easy Steps

Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.

Amy Tan
Railroad Museum
Yes Mom, you can post my picture in your blog.

Millions of people blog. Millions of people don’t. Which are you? According to WordPress Live Report bloggers created more than 540 million posts a month.  That’s more than I can read in a lifetime. But if you want to blog, don’t give up. If you want to write, you need to blog.

Since I began blogging four years ago, I have spoken to several groups about blogging. The purpose of this article is not to give mechanical or technical information about blogging. You can watch YouTube videos by the dozens that will show you the steps to physically start a blog (and please do.) I remember life as a  neophyte blogger. Blogging experts wrote in a foreign language, as did photographers. My blogging friends still help me learn new techniques, and I will pass what I’ve learned on to you

  1.  Decide the Purpose of Your Blog – and state it clearly and often. Knowing your purpose guides everything you do. The only reason to blog is to put your words out where someone else can read them. I have five blogs, one for each different purpose. My first blog, tchistorygal.net ,which is still my main blog, is a vanity blog. That simply means I do not sell anything, and the purpose is nothing except to learn how to blog and to have fun. I wanted to learn about blogging, make some friends, and it’s accomplishing its purpose. My posts keep track of what I’m doing and learning, and my friends know what I’m doing as well. It is not likely to gather a huge following, but that is not my purpose, so it’s ok. Like you, most people do not have much time to read, so if they can identify your purpose quickly, they are more likely to visit again and again. How will you measure success? This blog is to help myself and others to just write better. 

    Blogger Russel Ray
    This is my blogger friend, Russel Ray in San Diego.
  2. Attract Followers: Unless you are just writing a diary, you need followers. Bloggers get competitive over their stats. You can buy followers on Twitter. You can boost your posts on Facebook, but is that your purpose for your blog? If so, by all means, buy away. If you are short on cash, try these tips:
    1. Be positive (most of the time anyway.)
    2. Write medium length articles – 500 to 750 words. Break longer posts into parts and schedule them later. Photographers sometimes do not write anything. They might get lots of likes, but no one knows them. Good pictures are not memorable until you get to know the photographer, and writing puts your personality out there.
    3. Develop your own sense of humor and collect stories. These kinds of didactic articles only go so far, and (yawn) people get tired of them.
    4. Edit so that you don’t have tons of mistakes to come back and stare at you when you read your post two years later. I still find them in mine, but that may be what holds me back sometimes as a writer. It hurts, but let someone else read your work and give you honest feedback.
    5. Answer your comments. How rude to leave people hanging. It takes time to write a comment. It even takes time to press like. If you have lots of time go to their website and check out what they are saying. If you really like what they are saying, feature them on your blog.
    6. Blogs NEED at least a few pictures to grab the reader’s attention. Daytime bloggers enjoy music, but songs and videos load slowly, and impatient blog surfers may give up. Videos are helpful if you teach a skill. Sleepless bloggers with families won’t listen to your music at night unless they have a blog cave, or their families are deaf. Cat yawning
  3. Organize Blogging Categories – It does not take too long before your blog needs a haircut. Articles grow like hair on an old lady’s chin, and if you do not keep them trimmed and in order, you will be overwhelmed. I write often about organization because it is a huge task, and I have to work hard to keep this scattered self of mine organized, so I’ve become pretty good at it.
    1. Organize posts with categories. You can add menu items later, but categories helps YOU find your posts later.
    2. Tags are different and more specific. These help World Wide Web searchers to find your blog because they are looking for specific information.
    3. Don’t forget to label your pictures so you can find them, too. A label like IMG209472659.jpeg is not helpful when you want to reuse a photo later. By the way, sometimes when you copy something from the web, it has a different extension after the name of the photo, like IMG209472659.tiff. I cannot tell you how frustrated I have gotten when I press insert into to post, and nothing happens. I do not learn, and press it again, and it happens again. After about five time I remember the rule, the name of the picture should end with an extension that looks like this .jpeg.
typing
This is my bear Manny visiting a blogger friend, Ralph in Spain. He has his own blog, Manny’s Blog. He’s still developing his voice just like I am.

That’s enough for today because you need to go finish your first post, and I need to go to bed. I’ve been up since 3:55 a.m. blogging. (Unfortunately, that’s no lie.)

 

Blogging is YOU in Words – Three Steps to Help People Know How to Know You Better

As you read blogs, what do you admire? I love organized blogs. I love blogs that help me. Mostly I love blogs that have a real person with a fabulous personality and deep thoughts. I can’t give you tips to improve your personality, but I can help you learn to organize your blog so that people can find out who you are. I’m just getting started on this blog. I’m defining and building it, and you can watch it as it grows. Now, I just have to take my own advice.  If you want to see my more established blog you can check tchistorygal.net.

typing
Manny at work – photo by Ralph
  1. Create Pages That Work
    1. Only use a few (3-7) Main Pages, and create sub pages if you have lots of information. Examples might be: About, Start Here, Resources
    2. Main Pages are short, but highlight your purpose.
    3. Spend the most time refining your About page because people will go there first to see if they want to spend any time with you. Invite readers to your social media accounts. (I just redid mine.)
    4. Include contact information for readers to fill out, if your purpose is to build readership and/or sell products.
  2. Publish with Social Media
    1. Social media, even if you don’t understand it, builds statistics, and may build long-term readers. Many people who have had blogs or even used Facebook don’t take advantage of social media. It is constantly growing, so that’s another learning curve. Establish social media accounts, such as Facebook, Google +, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and others. Invite your email contacts to build each platform. Set WordPress to link automatically to social media.
    2. To build readership and relationships check your social media often and learn how to use it.
    3. Join social media groups so you can send posts and pages to specific groups who would be interested in those topics. It helps to add hashtags (see the bold # below) when you post so that groups will be notified.  (You can make these up yourself.) For example one blogger, Suzyspeaks,  has a special place on her Twitter account to tweet your posts, but only on Sundays. This is how another blogger took advantage of that opportunity and tweeted her post:
      Errin Krystal ‏@ErrinKrystal

      Read about my new serial Midnight Redemption: The History, The Synopsis & The Cover Art Reveal

  3. Revise and Repost
    1. After a few months, or years depending on how much you blog, clean up and reorganize your blog. Remove or revise posts that haven’t attracted viewers.
    2. Revise your writing based on what you have learned about that skill from blogging. For example eliminate passive verbs and pointless adverbs like quite or really.
    3. Copy the link of your revision and repost them on social media.  Assuming that your social media presence has grown, it’s amazing how many people didn’t see it the first time, but now know you, and will visit it now.

These are my goals for 2016. What are your plans for your blog this year?

 

Featured Blog: A Writer’s Path

Ryan Lanz, author of the blog, A Writer’s Path, has attracted an impressive 7,274 followers since July 2014. I am one of them. I like its simple organizational structure. He limited his categories to:

His menu is different, but still simple and to the point:

  • Home
  • About
  • Contact
  • Writer’s Toolbox
  • Advertise your book
  • Newsletter

If you write, this blog is a great place to learn.

 

Five Easy Tips for Creating Blogs Someone Besides Your Mom Will Read

Do you have enough readers?

This post is not for you, then.

Is your mom the only one reading your blog? Won’t your husband or best friend even read it?

OUCH!

Don’t give up on blogging yet!

Follow these FIVE TIPS to get you started.  

Planes are like blogs. You don't need the most complicated tools to get started. Even the simplest airplanes can get you off the ground.
Blogs are like planes. You don’t need the most complicated tools to get started. Even the simplest airplanes can get you off the ground.
  1. Keep the post to ABOUT 500 words. (This is HARD!!) That’s not too long to bore people, but it’s enough that people can get acquainted with you. People need to know what makes you interesting. People read your blog because they like something about YOU. Word of mouth sells blogs and books alike even if they cost nothing.
  2. Stick to what you know best. Include details that few people know that are unique about your piece. This is true no matter what you write. If you don’t know something, research it.
  3. Improve spelling and grammar. Proofread, edit, cut out adverbs, and unnecessary words, misplaced commas, and check spelling AGAIN. Sometimes the WP editor is NOT correct. Grammarly helps. A few minutes spent with Google or Yahoo checking information is better than publishing incorrect information or misspelled words. Remember to give credit where credit is due. If someone else finds an error, correct it!
  4. Spend time daily to read, like and comment on people’s posts. Care about what happens to those people in life. Make your comments positive and fairly short. If they inspire a post, create it and send them a link in their comment box.
  5. Pictures, videos, audio files add interest. YouTube videos helped me do more than I ever dreamed it would – from putting in a widget on a website to learning how to do a mail merge. If your blog is a teaching blog, videos are very helpful. Your phone takes videos good enough for online viewing, and it’s fun to capture the moment. I took the video below  when I ventured out of my hotel in San José to have dinner in the lobby. You never know what you might see. If you don’t snap it then, it’s gone!

More writing tips

What tips do you have for new bloggers? Share them in the comment section, or paste a link to one of your posts.

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