I am amazed that I’m writing this post so soon after making “Get 80,000 pages views a month” my New Year’s Resolution.
No, I’m not at 80k yet. But I hit a milestone…one that I thought would take much longer to reach.
This month, I hit 40k. In only two months, I have more than doubled my monthly page views.
How I More Than Doubled My Page Views in 2 Months
Now, the things I’m doing now won’t work on their own. A lot of my success has been due to perseverance and momentum. It took me over TWO YEARS (and a lot of work to get past my self-doubt) to get to $20k. However, I probably would have had more luck sooner if I had been plugging away as hard as I’ve been the last couple of months.
As I’ve mentioned in How I Monetized My Blog and How I am Improving my Photography in 2015, a lot of my inspiration came from the books I’ve read. Ruth Soukup’s How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul (affiliate) and Chelsea Lords’ How I Made $40k My First Year of Blogging (affiliate) were both INCREDIBLY motivating and showcased all of the things I did wrong. Which was incredibly frustrating, but it gave me the opportunity to fix those things. I started doing that in November and the results, as you can see, have been amazing.
Here is what the Analytics for my page views looks like in January:
Note: My Google Analytics account was opened at the end of February, so I don’t have accurate numbers until March 2014.
1. Hit link parties hard
I don’t mean just linking up to a bunch of parties and then leaving. Go through other links and COMMENT.
I used to link and run and I did…eh. Since I’ve been commenting, most of my traffic is coming from other people’s blogs. And the type of comment you leave matters, too. Don’t just say, “Great post!” and leave it at that. I talk about something that the post made me think of or I give my own experiences on the matter. And then I pin and stumble their content–and I tell them. A lot of bloggers will be so grateful for the social media sharing that they’ll find a way to do the same for you.How I More Than Doubled My Page Views in 2 Months Click To Tweet
If you don’t know where to start with link parties, I have a (constantly growing) list here.
2. Work on your photography.
If you’re not a food blogger, there are other “gawker” sites you can join…like CraftGawker, DwellingGawker, StyleGawker, and WeddingGawker. If you don’t deal with photography at all, then ignore this.
I’ve already talked about FoodGawker in How I Am Improving My Photography in 2015. so I’ll spare you all the details here.
Adding on to that–if your blog has a lot of old photos that are kind of bland, redo them. Choose one or two recipes each week, add them to your menu, and upload some new photos. It’s taking me a lot of time, but it is SO worth it! I have so many evergreen posts that are getting lots and lots of traffic because of the new photos!
Improving my photography, in general, has done nothing but great things for my blog. In the last month, three different bloggers have approached me about guest posting (one of them turned into a regular paid contribution). Another asked me to co-host the link party I mentioned above. I’m getting seen more often because my posts are getting pinned a lot. I was also approached by the editor of Reloved, a magazine in the UK who wanted to feature my Guitar Shelf (after I redid the photos).
(Btw, that post will be in the April issue! They’re working on it now and I’ve sent them new photos with a more streamlined tutorial! You can find the magazine in the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. See the How to Buy section of their site to find out exactly where. I’ll let you all know when the issue has been published.)
Edit: I received a question from one of you who wanted to know if you should repost that old post when you update the photos so your readers know something is new. Very good question! I’m sure many of you are wondering the same thing, so I’ll answer here. Do NOT repost a post when you update it. Google’s search engine crawlers will pick up on duplicate content and that will hurt your SEO.
Your next question might be, “Can’t I just delete the old post?” You can, but that will ALSO hurt your SEO. The crawlers have already picked up on that old post and when you delete it, they’ll detect a broken link (which hurts you). It’s best to just update your evergreen posts and then heavily promote them on social media. (This is where #5 will be very important for you.) You can also write new posts (maybe something inspired by the old one) and link to that old post within the new content.
If you have a newsletter and you want your email subscribers to know you’ve updated a post, include it in the newsletter. (Keep in mind that if your subscribers are signed up for blog updates and not for a newsletter, you cannot just start sending them newsletter emails because it is not the email they agreed to receive.)
I hope this clears that up!
3. Do round up posts
Also, it DOES matter what kind of round up it is and where you’re getting your round up links. I often start in my Facebook groups to see if anyone has anything unique I can add…and I often feel bad for excluding people, but it has to be done sometimes. Sometimes their content isn’t that good (sometimes food bloggers just post the recipe and add no personality to it), it’s a copy of a post another blogger did (who did it better), or the pictures are complete junk (which I know is mean, but photography IS very important). Sometimes I’ll edit the pictures for lighting and color balance, but there’s only so much I can do.
Find GREAT content, check the blogger’s copyright, and use it in your round ups. And give an OBVIOUS link back. My links are huge because I want people to be able to find them easily.
Just as an example…my New Year’s Eve Cocktails and my DIY Headboard Ideas are my two highest grossing posts EVER. People love round ups because it’s nice to have everything in one place. And the more links you have in them, the better (ideally 30+, but sometimes it’s hard to get that many).
Also, a lot of bloggers have their sites set up so when you link to their post, a trackback shows up in their comments section. I’ve gotten a decent amount of traffic from that, as well as bloggers who have linked to my page because I linked their content.
4. Guest post
When I was a newbie blogger, I tried to get guest posts without actually knowing why it was important. I just knew it was what “real” bloggers did. So when I suggested one of my guest posters link back to the post she was writing for me and talk about it on social media, she responded with, “That seems unfair. Why should I promote YOUR blog? Putting a link in my blog post will alienate my readers!”
At the time, that seemed like an overreaction. Now that I know better, I KNOW it was an overreaction and my requests were not unfair.
Guest posting helps SEO and gives you more credibility in the eyes of your readers. Letting your readers know you were featured somewhere does that, as well, and it opens you up for more guest posting opportunities. Instead of posting a message like, “Hey, I guest posted here!” and linking to it, write a whole post about a similar topic and use it to link to your guest post.Guest posting helps SEO and gives you more credibility in the eyes of your readers. Click To Tweet
Yes, it’s a lot of work to write a post for someone else’s blog. But people wouldn’t do it regularly if it wasn’t paying off. Here’s a great hangout on How Guest Posting On Other Blogs Grows Your Site:
Guest posting once is also not nearly as good as guest posting for the same person multiple times. So I do prefer to find bloggers who are looking for regular contributors when possible. And if you want to be a regular, then you need to treat their blog and their audience as if it’s your blog and your audience. Treat them like they matter to you as much as the people visiting your blog, because they absolutely should and because if you aren’t impressing the person you’re guest posting for, you won’t be asked back. (Needless to say, I won’t work with that blogger again. Not only because of that, but she was incredibly condescending.)If you want to be a regular, then you need to treat their blog and their audience as if they're your own. Click To Tweet
I also try to feature my guest posts somewhere in my blog (in fact, I have a plan to put them in my sidebar, though I am also planning on changing my theme sometime soon, so it may wait until after that). Instead of writing a post that says, “I guest posted here, go check it out!” write a post that will boost SEO for both of you. For instance, I wrote a post for a Valentine’s Day cheesecake and then included it in a Valentine’s Day roundup.
What you want to do is draw other bloggers to it and say, “Look what I did for THIS blogger! You should let me guest post for you, too!” FYI, some of my guest posting opportunities have turned into PAID contributions because I make sure to do a good job.
So, yeah, promoting someone else’s blog if they feature you is a pretty good idea.
5. Utilize social media better
In the last couple of months, I have worked incredibly hard at increasing my social media presence. And, honestly, I could still do better.
The first thing I did was what is known as The Holly Homer Method on Facebook. For that, I have another hangout for you:
I could highlight the most helpful parts…but there is too much. The video is long, but incredibly worth it, trust me.
Here’s the most important thing with Facebook, though: don’t give up just because you don’t immediately see results. As Holly pointed out, it took her a FULL YEAR to find success with this method. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. Click To Tweet
In the Learn to Blog group, we all had very different experiences. Some people started to notice their numbers drop as they were shedding their dead-weight followers–and then it jumped back up because their reach was higher (a result of not having dead-weight followers). Some started gaining followers immediately. Some saw NOTHING and then after a few months of perseverance, it started paying off.
I didn’t see anything for months until I finally went through and started manually removing my dead-weight followers (which I talk about in Why I Am Deleting My Facebook Followers). I got rid of people whose names I had never seen before and, yes, Facebook freaked out at first because it thought all of those people were unfollowing me. But a week or two later my reach and engagement were both QUADRUPLE what they had been. (As you’ll discover from watching the video, reach and engagement are WAY more important than your number of followers.)
For Twitter, I started using HootSuite to schedule. I do 5 posts a day because Twitter’s peak times are from 1-3 PM. I start at 11 AM and I have a tweet go out on every hour until 3 PM. I also linked my Facebook account to my Twitter, so now every time I post to Facebook, it auto-posts to Twitter. You can do that easily here.
The stuff I share on Twitter? Basically the same as on Facebook. It’s 1/3 my own content (that I am ACTIVELY sharing–I have plugins that share a large amount of my content every day), 1/3 other people’s content, and 1/3 “page builders.” Basically, ecards, funny images, questions for my readers, calls to action, etc. Things that get people involved or things they can relate to.
The most important part of that, though, is other people’s content. I make sure to tag them, when possible…which means I get favorited and retweeted and then my name gets seen by more people. A lot of those bloggers I’m tagging hadn’t even heard of me until they saw my name pop up in their notifications. Many of them have followed me and visited my blog since being tagged.
One more Twitter-related thing: the plugin Revive Old Posts is amazing. It basically tweets out your old posts for you. You can set it for any time period, have it exclude any categories, etc. A lot of my evergreen posts have gotten some attention lately because of that plugin. Lesson: automate as much as possible.Make your life easier by automating as much as possible. Click To Tweet
I’ve also been increasing my Tumblr following by setting up posts to “Queue.” I have my queue set to post 10 times a day and I make sure to give each post relevant tags. With Tumblr, though, you want to be careful. I have a lot of wonderful followers, but Tumblr (and Reddit) are huge echo chambers for political and social issues. Sometimes that anger will get directed at my blog. I just ignore it and I recommend you do the same. (In fact, there are a lot of people I simply have set to “Ignore” because they are always rude. This means they can say whatever they want, but I can’t see it. If someone is really irritating you on Tumblr, this is a great solution.)
6. Use StumbleUpon
This should be in social media, yeah. But it’s so useful I decided to make it its own thing.
StumbleUpon is an amazing resource, but you have to be careful with how you use it. If you’re posting too much of your own stuff, the SU staff will mark you as spam (and possibly Ghost Block you, which means you don’t even know you got blocked). They like a ratio of 15:1…meaning for every one thing of your own that you stumble, you also stumble 15 things from other people.
And I ALWAYS stumble my own stuff as soon as it goes up. That way, it’s been categorized and given keywords already and it makes it easier for others to stumble. The easier your readers’ lives are, the better off your blog will be. Most of the traffic from those roundups came from StumbleUpon.The easier your readers' lives are, the better off your blog will be. Click To Tweet
Don’t have enough blog posts from other people to Stumble? Get the app for your phone–it makes stumbling other things SO much easier. “Thumbs up” what you like until you reach 15 and you’re fine.
7. Add obvious sharing buttons to your blog posts
Look at the top and bottom of this post and you’ll notice that there are social media sharing buttons everywhere. I do this to make it easier for my readers to share, without them having to scroll all the way up/down.
They’ve actually been there for a while, but weren’t doing so well. And then about 2 weeks ago, I changed their size. Instead of using the smaller icons because they blended in better, I opted for larger ones. They’re more obvious, which makes people more likely to share.
Other ways I made sharing easier:
I added a counter. No one likes to be the first person to share or comment, so when they see that counter and see that someone else has shared the post, it gives them more incentive to share it, too. Which means that I also share my own posts first thing in the morning. This REALLY helps with StumbleUpon, because they make the first person to stumble a post categorize and tag it. Very annoying. I don’t want my readers having to do any work.
Also, I added alt text to all of my blog photos, so when someone shares my post on Pinterest, the text I want showing up (title, description, URL to my blog, tags) is automatically populated. You can change your alt text when writing your blog post by clicking on the photo, clicking on the “pencil” icon that pops up, and then typing the text in the box beside “Alternative Text.”
This is all very important because the more your posts are shared, the more they will BE shared, so….
8. Join sharing groups
I no longer participate in “follow” groups because they don’t do much for me. You get a bunch of dead-weight followers who are only following you so you’ll follow them (even in those threads where you have to pinkie swear that you’ll interact. It doesn’t generally happen that way).
This hurts you on certain platforms (namely Pinterest and Facebook) because if you have a bunch of followers who don’t engage, the site deems your page “not important” and stops showing it to people. Including your followers. (This is why I went through and deleted followers from my Facebook page.)
Sharing works the same way, sure–they’re only sharing so you’ll share their stuff in return. But it’s WAY more valuable. Especially on StumbleUpon, Pinterest, and Facebook…because all three of those platforms do this thing where the more engagement (likes, shares, and comments) a post receives, the more people they’ll show it to.
Because of this, my engagement and reach have gone up, which means MORE people get to see my stuff which means MORE engagement and reach. It’s a domino effect, basically.
9. Work on SEO
This is one thing that won’t get you results overnight, but the results you get will be lasting ones. I’ve spent months working on SEO and it’s finally paying off big time. Search engines are always in my #1 or #2 spot for traffic and that is EXACTLY how I want it. But I’ll say it again, this will NOT happen quickly. You’ll have to work on SEO for MONTHS before you see results (mostly because it sometimes takes the crawlers a while to scan and rank your site).Working on SEO won't get you results overnight, but the results you do get will be lasting ones. Click To Tweet
There are a TON of tutorials out there on SEO, so I’ll spare you all of that (I went into it briefly in Easy SEO, though).
My recommendation would be to get SEO by Yoast. It’s helped me see where I need to be more mindful of keywords (how many times I’ve used it and where). It has also helped me discover what my keywords should be. When I can’t decide on a keyword to go for, I often type in something vague (like “page views”) and a list of more specific keywords will pop up (“how to increase page views”). I pick one that I think is the most relevant to my post and I try to use that keyword throughout the post.
One more awesome thing–if you click on the “Social” tab in the plugin (which will be right under where you write your posts, by the way), you can choose the title, text, and photo that populates for Facebook and Twitter. Which finishes the point I made in #7 about making it easier to share your content.
Note: If you aren’t seeing the “Social” tab, it’s because your plugin isn’t set up correctly. Go to your WordPress Dashboard, hover over “SEO” and click on “Social.” From there, you can set up your accounts so they’ll shows up.
As I pointed out in #1, leaving an authentic comment (not a “Great post!” comment) on other bloggers’ sites will do A LOT of good. Most bloggers appreciate the comment and will return the favor. And if you’re “real” enough in your comment, their visitors will feel like they can relate to you and they’ll want to check you out. Commenting has done WONDERS for my blog. I’ve met so many great bloggers and gotten a lot of awesome opportunities as a result.
A few more notes…
1. Content is king, but social media is queen. Without networking and socializing with your readers and ESPECIALLY with other bloggers, you’re going to have a hard time getting your blog off the ground.Content is king, but social media is queen. Click To Tweet
2. I have also pulled a few late nights and weekends. One of the perks of blogging is you set your own schedule…but sometimes you have to set a schedule you aren’t happy with if you want to have a chance of getting the work done. Especially if you’re planning to take a vacation. A lot of my free time is time I have to schedule so I don’t burn out.
You know that trope movies use when they want you to know a character is addicted to work–where he has to literally schedule “play ball with son” or “take wife to dinner”? Sometimes that happens. I have to remind myself to take a night off to watch TV with Zach. Not because I don’t want to do it, but because sometimes I get so caught up and I say, “Oh, 10 more minutes.” And then three hours go by and I’m still working. It’s a reality of running your own business.
Even if I’m out with friends and family, though, I still sometimes have to do networking stuff–answering emails (I get a lot of emails from people in different countries who are 6+ hours ahead, but they still need responses from me ASAP). Or I get a great post idea that I don’t want to forget (Evernote is great for this). It happens. Fortunately, my friends and family understand (and the ones who don’t can bite me–though they’re probably not people I spend much time with anyway).
There have even been times where I have gone to bed, I’m half-asleep, but then a blog post comes to me. Sometimes it’s just a topic, so I write down a note and go to sleep. But sometimes it’s the content that comes to me, so I get up and I write (the I love Siri, because I can just get in Evernote and dictate what I want the post to say if I don’t feel like turning on my computer).
Would I rather not divide my attention like that? Absolutely. But I also know that this is not a 9-to-5 job and I need to put as much work into it as I can now if I want to be successful (and be able to relax) later. I’m hoping all this hard work will pay off so that I can take it easy (maybe hire a VA) in the future.
3. Try not to get discouraged. That’s the hard part. I got discouraged plenty of times and I have seriously contemplated just giving up. I’d be hard-pressed to find a blogger who hasn’t…it kind of comes with the territory.
If you have not hit 20k yet, don’t expect to get to 40k in 2 months. But I bet you could double what you have now. In fact, I’d love to hear your results! And if you find another strategy that works, let me know that as well! (In fact, email me and we can even discuss a guest post.)