Sometimes the easiest way to grow your blog at a dizzying pace is through the power of pause.
Taking a deep breath, relaxing and recounting your victories is the quickest, most direct way to boost your blogging traffic and income.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or if it is broke it helps to follow successful advice to cut your learning curve.
What if you haven’t had much success online? FOP it. Meaning, Follow Our Blogging Pros. Success leaves clues. Mimic the clues and you too can rock out your blog.
I initially wanted to publish this expert round up in late 2015 as a year end summary but I was cloistered in a jungle hut deep in the Costa Rican wilderness. Now I have emerged like the Phoenix, ready and raring to share insight from top blogging pros for you.
Playing on the“power of pause” idea, one sees the immense benefits in reviewing successes from the prior year.
Pros Dissolve Struggles
I was a Blogging Bozo until I found, studied and used pro blogging advice. Pros know. Pros cut your learning curve by days, months or even years if you’re ready and willing to cash in on their experience.
I asked these big dawg bloggers: What was your number one 2015 lesson for blog growth?
Focus on growing your subscriber list
Sue Anne Dunlevie, Successful Blogging
My action word for 2015 was “focus”. By putting my efforts on growing my traffic and increasing my email subscribers, I was able to grow my blog’s traffic by over 300% and expanded my email list from 50 a week to 200+ signups a week.
I focused heavily on doing a few things well and let go other non-business growing activities to grow my list quickly.
As a result, I was able to sell more 1-1 and group coaching and my income tripled last year.
Leverage Udemy’s Educational Announcements
Rob Cubbon, Rob Cubbon Dot Com
My number one lesson for blog (and subscriber) growth is Udemy, more specifically, Udemy “Educational Announcements”. And I can not believe that Udemy allows this. Udemy is the number one online learning platform with nearly 10 million users who are on there wanting to learn about social media, development, blogging, yoga, anything.
All you’ve got to do is to create a video course. This can be about anything, you can even use some of the YouTube videos you’ve created in the past – just make sure there’s at least 30 minutes of high-quaity video.
You can either sell courses or have them for free on Udemy. The free courses fill up with subscribers (maybe as many as 20 a day) very quickly. I’ve been doing this for a while and I have 70,000 students on Udemy.
Now, you can send 4 Educational Announcements a week on Udemy. This is, in effect, 4 emails I can send every month to 70,000 highly targeted buyers.
So I tend to send them to a high quality value-laden blog post.
The effect? Literally thousands of visitors and hundreds of sign-ups – 4 times a month!
Working on your inner world—your beliefs about success
Kelli Cooper, Life Made to Order
Being that my blog focuses on law of attraction/energy-type content, I can’t give any other answer than working on your inner world—your beliefs about success, clarity about what you want in your blog and what you want it to achieve for you, and honoring your intuition in how you go about marketing, crafting your content, and establishing the tone and voice of your blog.
This is not to dismiss any practical tips like commenting, effective use of social media,etc…that all has its place. But if you are not aligned energetically with success, you will struggle no matter how much you ‘do.’ You might squeeze out some success but it will be hard-won, unsatisfying and will likely lead to you not liking blogging very much.
It is easy to fall into the trap of playing a numbers game…if you comment on enough blogs, share your content enough, get on enough blogs with guest posts,etc… you will eventually get where you want to be. Again, it all has its place, but when we do these things from a place of force and trying to ‘make’ things happen, it’s a much more painful way of going about things.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself and don’t try to be everything to everyone…you can’t. When you do this, you will attract your ideal audience and customers.
Build your blogger outreach strategy
Tor Refsland, Time Management Chef
The important question is: “How do you define blog growth”? It may be… traffic to your blog… social shares on your posts… comments on your posts… email subscribers… popularity on Alexa ranking… get your blog and brand noticed… earn more money on your blog.
Each of the results above can be included when we define blog growth, and they all require a different strategy. However there is a strategy that may actually give you all of the above – at least it did for me. And that is blogger outreach. Heck, if we were in a Lord Of The Rings movie, blogger outreach strategy would definitely be the ring to bind them all.
Having a blogger outreach strategy got me featured on 85 blogs and get 3000+ email subscribers in my first year of blogging. Even though results like that is kind of cool, it has been a long journey. In my first few months of blogging, I realized that blogging was a bit challenging… Nah, who am I kidding? It was freakin´ hard.
I had zero traffic, zero social shares, zero comments and just a few people on my email list (besides myself and my mother). Yup, true story. Obviously no one knew who I was, and I didn´t know any bloggers or online entrepreneurs. Then I started to focus on blogger outreach to connect with influencers. And everything CHANGED. Here are a few examples of what can happen when you do blogger outreach the right way.
I wrote a blog post, 80 Productivity Tips From Incredibly Busy Experts, that generated: – 20,231 page views in 6 days – 1500+ social shares – 86 comments – 185 new email subscribers.
I also got featured on some of the biggest blogs in the world like Inc., SEMRush, Ahrefs, Huffington Post, SumoMe, Jeff Bullas, Boost Blog Traffic, Traffic Generation Café, Pick The Brain and Tiny Buddha. Even though, we all know that Alexa ranking isn´t that important, it´s still cool to be ranked high: 172163. I got a descent amount email subscribers (Aweber): 3,663.
Note: When you connect with influencers in a genuine way, and you only focus on providing value and never expect anything in return, great stuff can happen. Even though all of the above is kind of awesome, there is something that was even more awesome… I connected with a lot of influencers and made many new friends.
I connected with an influencer that has 306,000 people on his email list, got invited to do webinars with people who are earning serious amount of money online, got featured in a book, won “Most Epic blog post” on Jon Morrow´s blog Boost Blog Traffic, and my blog was included on the top 100 Personal Development Blogs of 2016.
To be quite honest, I would never have dreamed of such achievements in my first year of blogging. Want to grow your blog in 2016? Create a blogger outreach strategy that works and start to genuinely network with influencers.
Narrow the purpose of your blog
Tom Southern, Traffic Smart Marketing
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
Your blog content has to have a clear purpose and strategy.
This has been my number one lesson in 2015 for blog growth. Here’s why:
A purpose with a strategy to put it into action pinpoints the focus of your blog because it answers this important question: what end result do you want out of having it?
It helps you create a strategy to achieve this end result, including validation – for example, how will you know when you’ve achieved your end result, or if you’re on the right track? You need to have clear answers for these points.
I started growing my list before I started my blog. I wrote guest posts and got to know other bloggers via Twitter. I spent time answering questions people were asking about starting blogs or getting traffic. In doing this, I got to know what people who were engaging with me wanted to know and were struggling with.
This has been my number one 2015 lesson for blog growth because it’s taught me that finding your niche is not about keyword research or passion. It’s about finding out who is most likely to want what you can give them.
1. You can then tailor make your content for this group.
2. You can concentrate your efforts on finding more people in this group.
You will discover that “this group” is often full of people who share a common bond with you in that they:
1. Come from similar backgrounds in interests and profession as you.
2. Are in the same business (including the reason why they want to start a blog) as you.
3. Are going through the same, or similar, problems, struggles in trying to do what you’re doing now as you did when you were in their shoes.
4. Are trying to find answers to the same questions you asked when you were in their shoes.
Can you see how these points can help you find your audience and clients?
And why, when they see you in their space, answering their questions and talking about these points, they will start coming to you for more…
“[I’m a] new blogger still have not really clarified who my blogging community should be, my niche is IM but within that broad category I have yet to work out just where I should focus my attention.”
“I’m struggling with finding my niche. After reading this post…I’m still very confused how to compare different topics against each other. I really want to make a living writing and help people with my blog. There are 4 topics I’m very interested in…”
After answering these questions, I gently offer any links to my content that I think will add to my answers.
The more you give them solutions, answers and help them out – often just because you can and not simply to get traffic to your blog – the more likely they are to help you grow your blog.
It’s all about finding your niche. Not because it helps with SEO or ranking but because it helps to pinpoint who exactly you want coming to you blog. It’s about finding that group of people you can most help out of all those others looking for information and content in your particular field. It what sets you apart and helps you stand out. It answers the question going through their minds:
Why should I read your blog when there are 100s of others I could choose from?
I struggled for a couple of years to find what worked in growing a blog. Finding your specific group of people, your “Common Bond Audience” you can help because you can give them what they want, is crucial. You don’t need a lot of traffic to get readers and grow your email list. This is why I get above average open rates on my email list messages like this:
A clear purpose makes finding an engage and responsive audience a matter of opening dialogue.
Open the door to questions. These help pinpoint your purpose further because they give you insight into exactly what it is your readers want to know. Then respond by giving it to them in your content.
Listening to what my readers want to know helps me fine tune my content. It’s also helped me know exactly what my purpose for blogging is: Taking the frustration out of getting traffic to your blog.
It’s helped me find my Common Bond Audience, it’s helped me find my purpose for blogging. This purpose has helped me in turn to build relationships and friendships online with other bloggers, both peers and influencers who have been generous in supporting me and sharing my content. And I’ve gained support from well known bloggers like Adrienne Smith and Ryan Biddulph.
Listening to them and opening up conversations with them about what they’re looking for has also helped me set up my blog so that when my common bond audience visits my blog for the first time, they can see that I understand what they’re going through, what they want and have solutions and answers ready for them.
Now I know how to succeed at these things, I can pass them on to my readers. It’s like I’m putting in the missing steps in all the advice out there and they can finally move forward with their blog. I don’t keep much of an eye on analytics or metrics but I do pay attention to how my readiness to put what I’ve learnt into growing my blog is working. I think it is.
This lesson has been most valuable to me and my number one 2015 lesson for blog growth. If I can pass it onto others struggling to grow their blog and getting frustrated by lack of traffic, readers, subscribers and laying the foundations of an income online, that’s what gives me greatest satisfaction.
Discover those who serve the same audience but in a different way
Don Purdum, Unveil the Web
2015 was a banner year for my blogs growth. In fact, the growth was substantial and grew more so as the year went on.
It was amazing to from a thousand visitors a month early in the year to nearly four thousand each month from October through December.
I learned a few lessons early on but here is the one lesson I learned that changed the game; discover those who serve the same audience you do but in a different way and start promoting them.
I left blog comments, offered social shares and I promoted products or services for some great bloggers.
But here is the real lesson. Be careful of who you network with!
There are a lot of leeches out there who talk about “giving” but in the end are hard core “takers” who have no interest in bringing value to the other party.
As a result of this lesson learned I no longer care how great one’s message or content is IF their rhetoric isn’t being backed up with action.
So what am I looking for? Here are a few things:
1. Does the person I’m interested in networking with take the time to respond to those who comment on their blogs? And, are their replies worthy of the comment? One line replies are just a demonstration of tone deafness. If someone takes the time to contribute value to a blog, the blogger ought to acknowledge it. After all, the commenters are making them look good (hopefully) and as a result they deserve a strong reply. It looks great to those who are thinking of hiring the blogger for their product or service; and it looks like the blogger cares about their audience. If they care about their audience it’s a really good sign.
2. Do they take the time to acknowledge all of the social media shares of their articles? Acknowledging the share, saying “thank you” and being courteous says a lot.
3. Do they take the time to reciprocate by reading other’s blogs? Yes, we are all busy. But because I know “what business I’m ‘really’ in” I also know what’s important to my business. I want to invest in those who share the same philosophy and values and want to network online. Building lasting relationships that give people a reason to buy us or refer others to us takes time and must be cultivated. If someone is only interested in the one way street, or halfway street, then I’m not interested in wasting my time.
4. Are they actively engaging with others and having conversations. Social posts and email is great, but what about a phone call or a meeting if they are local? When I see pics and tags on social media it says they are proactive. I have taken pictures of me with my clients via Skype.
5. Are they actively promoting others or are they just asking to be promoted? If I can’t see them sharing content and promoting others then I know there may be a scarcity or “me” problem. I’m in it for the “we”…
There you have… my growth in 2015 came from networking with a few people who actually get it and are active in building a relationship that goes beyond just commenting and sharing.
I have been fortunate to build a fantastic community around my blog. These bloggers are all givers and as a result they “get.” It’s an amazing thing to discover that this can actually happen for real and our businesses can grow together.
Real business happens when there is value, and value is always centered around “others” over “self.”
I don’t know about you but I do know this much about me; it’s not just about creating great content. It’s about connecting with people who create great content and want to build a real business.
It’s not about website traffic and social shares that make me or you look good. It’s about relationships that make us all profitable, healthy and happy.
That’s my number one lesson learned in 2015.
Write not to teach your audience, but to improve their lives
Donna Merrill, Donna Merrill Tribe
As I wrote article after article that I knew was valuable information, I noticed fewer and fewer people engaging with it. Now, I’m not talking about “hey, great post” kind of engagement. I’m talking about “nice idea, can you tell my how to do it?” So, I scratched my head and thought, “wow, these folks just aren’t getting the great value, here.”
I spent a little time trying to convince some of them that they really, really needed to understand some of this critical information. I’d sent out some follow-up emails to my readers, giving them some deeper reflections, and doing a bit of arm twisting. I wasn’t getting the avalanche of “wow, now I get it” comments I was hoping for.
I scratched my head a little harder and suddenly things started moving. I think it was brain waves. They taught me an important lesson that I’ve taken to heart, and as a result have seen an enormous engagement jump in recent months. ( Notice, I said “engagement” not “traffic.” Traffic minus engagement equals worthless browsing. Tweet it.)
Here was my brain storm: Even though I’d been filling my blog with some really great information, people don’t want more information. (Keyword… “people,” as in flesh and blood, have a life, sentient beings, not statistical, brag about how big it is “traffic”). Hey, this was cool. All I needed to do was start writing about things that real people cared about. But what? The answer was really pretty simple. People want to be happier. They want a better life. They want it to be easier and more fulfilling.
So, I started writing, not to inform them or teach them, but to improve their lives. Yea, that was it. If I could touch somebody, even one person, and tell them something to make their life just a little bit better… that’s what I should do. I did. And it’s made a huge difference in my ability to leverage my blog into a massive tool for engagement. And I’m loving the process ever so much more!
Double-down on blog commenting
Kim Willis, Persuasion Pursuit
Without a doubt, it was blog commenting.
After relying on paid ads for traffic and leads for the last nine years, about six months ago I had an epiphany. After comparing my results from paid ads with organic results, it was clear that organic traffic produced the best quality traffic. So I decided to stop paying for ads, and just focus 100 per cent on organic methods.
My friend, Ryan Biddulph, told me about the success he was having with blog commenting, so I decided to give it a try. When I say blog commenting, I’m not talking about the traditional blog commenting method, which seemed to me to be about leaving meaningless comments on other people’s blogs in return for getting a backlink.
This new way of blog commenting is more about engagement and networking with others in your niche than it is about backlinks.
Armed with my new conviction that organic traffic is the way to go and that a particular strategy like ‘new age’ blog commenting was going to be a primary organic building block,
I started commenting on other people blogs in September 2015.
Within a week, I had some traffic! Importantly, I had my first handful of comments on my brand new blog. Encouraged by this I made some more comments. By the end of the month, I had 12 comments on my blog, 600 visitors, and some social media shares. A good start, especially when you consider that my original blog was lucky to get one bona fide comment a month! Keep in mind that my original blog had been in existence for more than five years!
Fast forward to today and my assessment is this:
Reciprocal blog commenting transforms a dead blog into a living blog. Simple as that. People who visit my new blog are impressed. They can see real activity there on an almost daily basis. From a credibility-boosting point of view, this is huge.
Integral to the strategy is the use of various social media platforms. I share other people’s content a lot on Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+ and Facebook. I do it every time I leave a comment on their blog.
Many of the people whose content I share on these platforms reciprocate by sharing my content too. And of course, they leave a comment on my blog. So what we have here is an ever expanding virtual circle of supporting community members, helping others grow and prosper.
It’s a beautiful way to build relationships, credibility and market presence.
Get your name out there everywhere
James McAllister, Help Start My Site
You need to get to the point where you and your brand are omnipresent – people begin to recognize and know you just from the fact that they see you around often on places other than your own blog.
Comment on other blogs in your niche. Become active on forums where your target audience is spending time. Be extremely active on the social networks your audience is on. If you can get to the point where your audience is seeing and thinking about you regularly throughout the day, you and your blog will become the #1 authority figure in their minds.
You should want people to think of your blog when they think about your niche, just like people think of Coca-Cola when they hear the word soda, or McDonalds when they hear of fast food. These brands are available everywhere and almost everyone knows what they sell.
Never turn down any opportunity to get your name out there, and commit to being as many places at once as you possibly can. The benefits are enormous. After all, if more people aren’t finding out about who you are, you can never expect to grow.
Clear your inner world to see immense outer success
Ryan Biddulph, Blogging From Paradise
I was blessed with a handful of stunning achievements in 2015 I had to share with you.
I appeared on Richard Branson’s Virgin blog. I popped up on Forbes. I was mentioned on Neil Patel’s blog so many times I feel like I should bring him along for Kelli and mine’s next trip to Fiji.
I cyber spoke about blogging at NYU. NY Times Best Selling Author and world famous speaker Chris Brogan endorsed my eBooks.
I tripled my blogging income the month I created Blogging from Paradise. I went from receiving 10 Retweets to 300 Retweets – or more – on blog posts.
I was blessed to grow my email list by 25% over a 1 month stretch.
What did I do differently during 2015? Very little. I had followed many of the helpful tips above for at least 1-2 recent years in my online career. Why did I struggle horribly from 2009-2014 while I made massive, epic, world shattering breakthroughs, being endorsed by world famous celebrities, speaking at the most esteemed academic institutions, all while island hopping to places like Fiji, Bali, Costa Rica and Thailand, in 2015?
I cleared my inner world to see immense outer success.
That is my #1 productivity tip after reviewing the prior year. Clear your inner world. Elevate your vibe. Raise your energy. Spend more time in a quiet room to face your mental demons. Be more present.
Every hack above rocks tremendously. Each of the blogging tips you’ve read about today work really, really well. But 80% of bloggers never make more than $100 online during their entire careers because even though they have access to all of the proven, kick ass blogging tips, their minds are not prepared to receive and act upon successful acts.
By working on my inner world religiously over the past year I went from Nobody to Possibly A Somebody. The practical tips I’d been using miserably over the past 5 years, all of a sudden, worked! It was not magic. I changed my energy. I worked less but more intelligently. I did less but acted more effectively. I had loads of fun with my blog.
Your blog readers want a beacon of light. Be the person who shines so brightly that your readers will become locked on to each and every one of your blog posts.
What tips can you add?
How did you knock it out of the park on your blog last year?