This post is for the budding bloggers who need help growing their readership. Last year, I posted – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should. It is a good guide and I’m proud of it. However, that’s not quite enough for new bloggers. A few people told me they needed more help. My guide helped with setting up a blog, but that’s just the first step. Blogging is only fun if you have readers. That’s why I’m posting this follow up on how to get more readers for your new blog.
Set a schedule and stick to it
One big problem with blogging is that a lot of people quit after a few months. It’s not easy because life is already busy. Blogging takes a lot of time and blogging is not much fun in the beginning. To be successful, you need to keep going for at least a year. It takes time to build an audience.
During the first year, set up a blogging schedule and stick with it religiously. You need to build a new habit and get rid of some old ones, like watching TV. Once you’ve done it for a year, blogging should be routine. When I first started, my goal was to blog 3 times per week. There were times when it felt impossible, but I pushed through it. Quantity is just as important as quality at this point. I was still finding my voice anyway so some articles weren’t that good. While you should aim for excellence with every post, but some subpar posts are okay in the beginning. Fake it until you make it.
You’ll have to figure out your own optimal blogging frequency. I think 3 times per week is good, but that might be too much for most people. Once or twice per week would be okay too. Whatever frequency you pick, stick with it.
*Technical stuff – You will need to do some technical stuff. I will list the things you need to do below, but I can’t write an extensive tutorial for each step. You should be able to find detailed instructions for each step on the internet.
I assume everyone has a Gmail account. You can use it to sign up for Google Analytics. This will let you track how many visitors you have, what led them to your site, etc. You will need to add tracking code to your site for Google Analytics to work properly. This can be done via a plugin, your blog’s theme, or manually. You should be able to find a free plugin for this step.
Google Analytics will help you figure out if you’re getting more readers. Don’t get too obsessed with the numbers, though. They should improve in time.
Get your blog indexed on the search engines
Next, you need to get your blog listed on the search engines. Once you do this, it will help readers find your site. Most of our traffic is from search engines so this step is crucial for organic growth. You can use a plugin for this. I’ll give a quick overview first.
- Google – Sign up for an account at Google Webmasters and add your site. Here is a guide from Google.
- Bing – Sign up for an account at Bing Webmaster and add your site.
- Pinterest – Pinterest is actually a search engine. I haven’t had much luck with it, but it works for many bloggers. You probably should sign up for a Pinterest business account and create a profile.
Helpful plugin – Yoast SEO is a pretty good free plugin. Here is a tutorial from Yoast.
Social media drives about 5% of our traffic. It’s not a huge amount, but anything helps. You should sign up for these accounts with your blog name.
- Twitter – I like Twitter. It doesn’t take up a lot of time and you can connect to other bloggers and readers.
- Pinterest – I just do the minimum for Pinterest. It’s a big traffic driver for some sites, but not us. I haven’t figured out Pinterest yet.
- Facebook – Facebook seems to drive less traffic these days.
- Instagram – If you’re a visual person, Instagram is a nice addition.
- Google+ and LinkedIn – These might help. It depends on your audience.
I suggest signing up for at least Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. Once you’ve done so, then you need a plugin to broadcast your new posts to these social media outlets. There are many free plugins you can use, but I highly recommend the Social Warfare plugin. Social Warfare costs $29/year. That’s what I use and I’m very happy with it. You can see it in action by sharing this post with the social media sharing bar at the bottom. If you don’t want to spend money, then use a free plugin for now.
Get listed in directories
This one depends on your niche. For personal finance, you should get listed on these free directories.
- Rockstar Finance Directory – This is the best directory for personal finance blogs.
- WiseBread – This one used to be good, but it hasn’t been updated in a long time. Probably not worth your time now.
If you’re in a different niche, then you’ll need to find a good directory on your own. Don’t pay money to get listed on site like EatonWeb. I don’t think it is worth the money.
Networking is very time consuming, but you need to do it especially when you’re new. Currently, I spend about 50% of my time on my blog and the rest networking. That’s probably too little time on the networking side.
- Comment on blogs in your niche. This is a great way to gain readers when you’re starting out. Find popular blogs in your niche and leave comments there. These are like breadcrumbs that will lead readers to your site. Do it consistently and you’ll build a relationship with your favorite bloggers. This is a good way to network and make new friends.
- Join forums. You can join forums and other platforms to network and get help. For personal finance, the Rockstar Finace Forums is a great place to start. I think reddit is good too, but it’s a time suck.
- Be active in social media. Pick one or two social media network and become active on those. Follow influential people in your niche. You have to be interactive to build a following.
- Find some blogging buddies. When you’re new, you need some blogging buddies. This can be done by finding a newish blog you like and build a relationship with the blogger. You can contact them and see if you can support each other somehow. Bloggers exchange guest posts, promote their friends’ content, and help each other through technical issues. It helps a lot to have someone who is going through the same journey in your corner.
- Go to meet ups and conferences – For personal finance, I highly recommend attending FinCon. It’s a great way to meet bloggers and you’ll learn a ton. You can also should seek out local meet ups and network in person.
Optional – build an email list
This one probably could wait, but building an email list is crucial if you plan to sell a product (ebook, course, consulting,…) in the future. This is the best way to connect with your reader on a 1 on 1 basis. Many successful bloggers regret not building an email list from day one. Unfortunately, this is an expensive proposition for new bloggers. I use Aweber and it starts at $19/month. Personally, I think you can wait a bit on this one. Concentrate on blogging for a year and then start building an email list after that. If you have an ebook or something, then it’d be worth it to start right away.
Alternatively, you can use MailChimp. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers. However, it is a pain to move the list over to Aweber or ConvertKit. If you’re serious about building an email list, I’d go with Aweber or ConvertKit from the start.
Keep going for a year
Blogging is more difficult than you think. It’s not just writing and posting it on the internet. You need to setup some technical stuff, be active in social media, and network. It takes a ton of time to do all these things. Don’t quit after just a few months. Blogging is most difficult in the beginning. Once you’ve done it for a year, it gets easier. You need to gut it out for a year and see where it takes you.
Here a great inspirational talk from Ira Glass. Listen to this, it is so true.
Here is the summary
- Set a blogging schedule and stick to it
- Sign up for Google Analytics
- Get your site indexed by Google and other search engines
- Get active on social media
- Get listed in relevant directories
- Network, network, and network – This is the most important piece.
I hope this post helped some new bloggers. Let me know if I miss anything and I’ll add it to the article. Good luck!
If you need more help check out Jillian’s two week course – JetFuel. She is a great coach and she’ll help you start off on the right foot. Jillian’s site is Montana Money Adventures.
My tutorial – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should.
For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.
Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.