Thursday
March 31, 2011

Blogging 101 Part 2: Driving Traffic

Do you love your blog? Well, you should! Loving your blog is not about being cocky or conceited. Your new blog is like a newborn that must be cared for and nurtured every day. This is the key to gaining an audience. Your readers will only enjoy your blog as much as you do. & if they do, they will make a habit of checking in with you everyday.

I am going to start where I left off last week with my Blogging 101 series. Today I will talk about driving blog traffic. Keep in mind that this advice is for new bloggers looking to make blogging their business. It is not for those that are blogging to share photos/information with family and friends.

There are 2 things that you should do TODAY (right now) before you start thinking about driving traffic:

1. Install the Alexa Toolbar. It only takes a few seconds! There are toolbars for Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox. (I use all 3 of these browsers and have an Alexa Toolbar installed on each one!) The Alexa Toolbar will allow you to keep track of your daily Alexa traffic rank. This will give you an idea of how your efforts are paying off. You can also use it to check the Alexa Rank of any other website. Be motivated but not overly obsessed. The Alexa Toolbar is a handy tool, but it is not the end all be all of blogging success.

That said, here are a few Alexa Rank examples: Facebook is ranked a 2, Pinterest is a 35, Blogspot is a 45, Anthropologie is 5,702 today, and Spearmintbaby.com is a 233,895 today. Try it now! Your Alexa Traffic Rank will most likely fluctuate daily and the lower you are the better.

2. Install Google Analytics on your blog. Google Analytics is an extremely helpful tool for keeping track of your website traffic. (where people are coming from, the most frequent landing pages, how long they are on your site, what key word searches are leading people to your blog, etc.)

You need to sign up for a free Google Analytics account, accept the terms/legal agreement, and then paste the code they provide into your blog html. It is not incredibly difficult, but takes a little bit of time. Once you have this set up correctly, you will be able to track data in about 24 hours. Need help with installation? Read this: installing Google Analytics.

After completing these 2 steps you are ready to begin driving traffic…

So, you’ve been blogging for a few weeks now. You’ve come up with the perfect blog name and you’ve been posting interesting content every day. Your blog layout and design is a work in progress, but it looks presentable and clean and you are ready to have an audience… (bigger than your mom, dad, sisters, and husband!)

Today i am going to discuss 3 simple things for bloggers to do to build their audience. They may or may not be helpful to you. But remember that experimentation is key. You will be able to see which things are more effective at driving traffic by checking your Google Analytics data at the end of each day. UPDATE: this article was originally written pre-Pinterest. If you are blogging and NOT on Pinterest, go directly to Pinterest and get pinning!

1. Visit Forums & Chat Rooms.

Once you define your blog niche, you can easily become part of online communities that are relevant to your blog. Most forums & chat rooms will allow you to include your blog url in your signature. People that read your forum posts will often click over to see what your blog is about.

When I first started Spearmint Baby, I was already an active community member on thebump.com and thenest.com forums. I added my blog url to my signature and i would get many visitors from their sites each day. The editors of The Bump quickly took notice and named Spearmint Baby as the Editors’ Pick for Baby Design Blog. Click on the link and you will see how my blog used to look, HA! Spearmint Baby was only 6 months old at the time and this drove a lot of new traffic to my blog. I’m not sure that the editors of thebump.com would have known about my blog had I not been an active community member.

A few other mom/baby related forums that i visit: Circle of Moms, Social Moms, Baby Center, Just Mommies

One thing to note is that you should NOT go to forums specifically to promote your blog. Community members can be VERY unforgiving to bloggers who post messages specifically about visiting their blog. In fact, this is a good way to be kicked off of a forum/chat room site. In addition, go in with a little caution. Forums/chat rooms can be full of drama!…which is best to just ignore.

2. Sign Up IMMEDIATELY for Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn Pages (& now Pinterest and Instagram!)

The first year and a half that I spent blogging I totally neglected all of these free social media networking sites. It was a huge mistake! It is only in recent months that I have become active every day in these communities and it has made a HUGE difference in my blog traffic.

Follow Facebook & Twitter pages for businesses & bloggers that you like or want to network with. Write nice comments on their Facebook posts, post replies on Twitter, retweet their posts- these are great ways to get them to notice you. Great relationships can develop through social media.

Also, update your Facebook page & Twitter status daily or multiple times/day. Soon this will become a super fun habit!

There are many ways to use LinkedIn and I am just starting to explore it. I follow up with business professionals by adding them to my LinkedIn contacts. I also network with PR reps through LinkedIn. Having all of your contacts in LinkedIn is so much more convenient than scrolling through old emails.

There are also LinkedIn groups & forums. These can be great networking places. One that you may see me on is M2MOms.

3. Be An Active Member In Your Blogging Community

Remember the advice i gave you last week?:
pick 4 or 5 blogs that you really enjoy and read them EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! study what they are doing, how they relate to their audience, their formatting/design style, etc. you may want to take notes of similar things that you would like to do on your blog.

Have you been reading your favorite blogs every single day? If so, you need to take it one step further and make them aware that you are stopping by everyday.

POST COMMENTS OFTEN: friendly comments are a good idea… “oooh, i love those shoes,” or “my 17 month old won’t let me brush her teeth either!” At the end of your comment sign your name and include your blog URL. Most bloggers enjoy reading comments and have no problem if you include your blog URL. In fact, most bloggers actually want to know who you are and will often click over to visit your blog. Other commenters may also notice your blog URL and visit too.  This is a super easy thing to do so no excuses! UPDATE: most blogging platforms now allow you to link your name directly to your blog so adding your URL is unnecessary!

Ok, that is all for today. Next week I will be writing more about driving blog traffic.
Shari

p.s. Feel free to add your own advice. I would love to hear your tips for driving traffic.

to cont. reading: Part 3: Blog Hops

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Comments (24)

  1. Great tips again and much appreciated! And look, just by making this comment I'm practicing one of your tips! Easy!

  2. I agree with most of these. However, I *do* think it can look semi-obnoxious if you leave your blog url on comments. ONLY because you can click their name and go right to their blog if you're interested, and anyone else can too. You know? Just my thoughts. Agree with most everything else:)

  3. yes, Katie!
    this is GREAT feedback!
    i should put a note that you should do this especially if your name is not linked directly to your blog.
    shari

  4. Thanks for the tips! I just started my blog and am looking forward to trying these new tips. :)

    Belly B
    http://www.papertiaras.com

  5. Thanks so much for this information. I do use Google Analytics but had not heard of Alexa. I just downloaded it! I do have a question for you. Do you know of any forums/chatrooms that are catered more towards crafy and/or food blogs? While I do occasionally post about kids' stuff, my blog is more about creating/decorating on a budget. Okay, I have two questions. How do you submit a nursery to be featured on your blog? I inquired a while back and never heard anything. I love looking at all the nurseries you post and would love to have my little guy's nursery featured if you like it. Thanks so much for sharing your tips and for taking the time to read this.
    Jen
    Scissors & Spatulas

  6. Hi Jennifer, check out the nest.com's craft and food forums:
    http://community.thenest.com/cs/ks/forums/5072170/ShowForum.aspx

    you should also become a member at Tasty Kitchen:
    http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen/members/
    i just signed up a few weeks ago and have yet to explore but it looks like a great community. be sure to friend me if you do (user name Spearmint Baby ;)

    use google to find out about more forums/chat rooms that fit your niche.

    as for submitting nurseries, please resubmit to my email: spearmintbaby@gmail.com
    i am so sorry, i have so many unread emails and i probably just haven't gotten to it yet! shari

  7. Thanks for these tips! I made a FB page, but I am still figuring out how to make it relevant to my blog, and this helps! I will be downloading Alexa later as well.

    I also submitted my daughter's nursery recently, but I will wait a while longer before I resubmit, I know you are backed up!

  8. What a great read! Thanks! I just started my blog just over a month ago, and through facebook and commenting on others blogs, I am now getting 2000 hits a day….this stuff works! who knew, right? I also found that rather than randomly commenting, if you scope out other blog posts that are relevant to your post and then put a link to your exact post…you are more likely to drive traffic. Also, people like to see pics that you have actually taken yourself, not just stock images, makes it more interesting! For instance, we all love looking at other peoples 'real' nurseries on here right? its my fav part!! (although the stock images make me drool too, ha ha). best to everyone!! xoxo shelli
    http://www.alamodemaven.com

  9. great advice, shelli! thanks for sharing what is working well for you. i never thought of these things! shari

  10. It's always good to learn something new…or just to refresh knowledge.
    I can't thank you enough for starting this series,means a lot to many of us,I believe.
    Every tip is helpful,especially about social networks, where I am totaly lazy…at least until today ;)
    wish u a lovely day

  11. I just started my blog of mommyhood and this information couldn't be better! Thanks!

    http://www.dietcokeanddiapers.blogspot.com

  12. *stopping by from I love blogging hop!*

    thank you for the amazing advice. i am always in awe of bloggers who can expand their blogs so quickly!

    new follower, please stop on by. also doing a giveaway if you're interested in entering :)
    http://penelopeblue.blogspot.com/2011/03/say-it-sweet-giveaway.html

  13. I just started my blog and this information couldn't come at a better time. Thanks!

    http://www.dietcokeanddiapers.blogspot.com

  14. thanks for the awesome tips! Keep 'em coming :)

    Stacey @ Maple Bacon and Beavertails
    http://maplebaconbeavertails.blogspot.com

  15. Excellent blog. Thanks for the very informative tips. I appreciate it.
    Thanks for looking,
    http://usedbooks4cash.blogspot.com/

  16. Thanks for the post. I have a LinkedIn account that I don't use. I will definitely work on using it more now. Thanks for stopping by; following you back.

    Just Another Hat

  17. Another great tip I have found that lowers my Alexa ranking is blog hops. I have gone down 800,000 in three weeks by actively participating.
    Jen- Makobi Scribe

  18. Thank you for the info! I've been blogging for a month now…your advice was needed!
    I wonder if there is a blog dedicated to new bloggers or a blog that has a “new blogger” weekly feature. That would help too with a little exposure.
    Thank you again for all the advice!

    ~Ava

  19. What wonderful Advice!! Thanks for stopping by and following my blog… I am so happy you did!! Now, I am off to read more of yours.

    DiapersintheDesert.blogspot.com

  20. I love these tips! Never heard of Alexa before so will be downloading soon! Have yet to jump into Twitter land either….

    Would love to get your thoughts on blog hops… I really enjoy finding new blogs (it's how I found yours) but it is so time consuming.

    Anyway, thank you again!
    henry happened

  21. Stephanie- i will be writing about blog hops next week so stay tuned :))
    xo, shari

  22. This is awesome! I am so glad that you left a comment on my blog that redirected me here! I am definately keeping up with your blog now!! This is great! I have Alexa, Analytics, and my own domain (although not through GoDaddy) but I don't have a fb account (for my biz) or a Twitter account. I have thought about it. Maybe I need to take the plunge! I should totally be your project child!! You should show everybody what kinda magic you can work using me as an example! *wink,wink*

    Here is my 2 cents on leaving your link in a post. I totally think it's okay and I would rather someone leave me a clickable link. I can't even tell you how many times I've clicked on a name and it's taken me to a persons profile and they have half a dozen blogs listed..and truthfully, the only reason I was even following was to follow back, I don't wanna have to search through them all and figure out which blog they wanted me to follow. I think it's totally okay to do it as a signature like this:
    Kyla Kreates
    Btw, I posted the tutorial of how to get a clickable link in a comment here in case any of your readers can use it!
    Thanks so much for putting this series together!

  23. I love your bing helpfull, me im just a readers from different bloggers, i enjoy all of you, learning a lot..

    Thank you
    Odie

  24. As I new blogger I can’t thank you enough!!!! I have been searching and searching for some good advice on blogging 101. You are the first site I have come across that has really spelled it out. You seem to want to help and that is amazing. Getting started and trying to get noticed is hard. Other sites just give generic common sense or opinionated info. Yours has substance. Thank you so much! Following your direction, you are one of my “going to visit everyday” bloggers. Thanks!!!

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