There are many casual bloggers who only blog for themselves or their friends. They don’t care about views, hits or visibility, and have never looked at their stats page, and that is perfectly okay. Casual bloggers can write one blog post a year and it won’t matter because the few views they get are all they care about anyway. Their sole reason for blogging is to share their thoughts, feelings or pictures with a few friends–or just get them down “on paper,” so to speak. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that.
So if you’re a casual type of blogger who blogs only for yourself or your friends or family, this article will not apply to you.
But if you’re a serious blogger, like I am, you will want to increase your readership, get more views, and be more visible on the web. I think for most of us, the primary reason we blog is for the love of it and to share our thoughts with others, but let’s be honest: that isn’t quite enough. For aspiring writers like me, maximum visibility is important because visibility helps us promote our writing. Blogging can act as a springboard to other things. An active and well-known blog can be parlayed into a writing career or even the eventual publication of a book.
If you’re a serious blogger, you can’t be lazy. You have to work hard at it, and it becomes a job. A fun job to be sure, but still a job. So I am going to give you some pointers for how to promote your blog and get as much visibility as possible. I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and have learned enough about this along the way that I think my advice can help you too.
1. The most important thing is to write every day.
I’m serious. I’ve noticed that if I skip even ONE DAY without writing a new post, my viewership declines and I get fewer hits. Until you’re really well established or have a really famous blog (which most of us don’t), you cannot rest on the laurels of your last well-received and popular blog post. You must keep writing. Of course there will be days you can’t think of an original idea or are simply too tired to write anything original. In that case, it’s okay to post a photo, meme, cartoon, or reblog someone else’s article. If you do reblog an article though, try to write at least a paragraph or two introducing it and explaining why you’re reblogging it. Don’t reblog just for the sake of posting something. Make sure it’s something you really like or that resonates with you. Your readers will pick up your enthusiasm if you write an intro. But be careful not to do this to often. If you hardly ever post original material, people will lose interest in your blog because it becomes nothing more than a platform to promote the material of others.
2. Have a good looking blog.
WordPress has many themes and many of them are free. I think the majority of them are tasteful and easy on the eyes, and they are easy to set up. If you run ads on your blog (you won’t be doing this unless you’re a serious blogger anyway), be careful about having too many other graphics and widgets on your blog. I’m probably guilty of this, because my sidebar looks like a widget sardine can, but I can’t bring myself to delete any of them. But I don’t think this blog looks too “busy.” Don’t use background colors and patterns that are hard on the eyes or that clash with the content. Use a font that’s easy to read, not just because you think it looks “cool.”
3. No walls of text!
If you write long articles, it’s best to break them up into subheaders, “listicles” (numbered lists), or use graphics and pictures. Google Image is great for finding the perfect graphic for an article, or if you’re a good photographer, you can take your own pictures.
4. Reply to your comments.
This should be a no-brainer. If you allow comments but don’t answer them, people will think you’re a snob or that you don’t care. If you get many comments, it may not be practical to answer all of them, but at least “Like” them to let the commenter know you saw their comment. There is of course the option to not allow comments at all (which may be necessary if you are being stalked or bullied excessively) but if you want your blog to grow, I don’t recommend this. Blogging should be an interactive activity, and if you don’t allow comments, people will think you only care about your own opinion and will probably lose interest eventually. Also, don’t run people off by not allowing them to disagree with you. There’s a big difference between someone who merely disagrees with something you wrote and a bully. Disagreements can turn into interesting and lively debates and discussions.
5. Use the share buttons, even if you don’t use social media.
There are many social media share buttons that WordPress makes available. You should make all of these available under each article, so even if you don’t use social media yourself, other people will share your articles for you and that will help you gain visibility. It’s a fantastic feeling to look at your share buttons and see your counters growing. When one article of mine hit 1K shares on Facebook, I felt like I won the lottery.
6. Use Twitter and Facebook even if you hate them.
If you want your blog to grow, I recommend sharing articles on at least Twitter and Facebook, even if that’s the only reason you use these social media platforms. You can set your blog up so your articles are automatically shared to the social media platforms you choose without you having to actually go to the sites to do so.
7. Use Twitter #hashtags.
If you have a Twitter account, and you have an older article you want to promote, or one that seems to be especially popular, I recommend re-sharing it using #hashtags. The automatic share feature won’t do this for you, but if you manually share an article to Twitter, include a few #hashtags in your tweet (a box will pop up where you can do this). Hashtags are basically just one word tags that describe the content of your article. For example if you write about narcissism, and you are tweeting about a relevant article, use hashtags like #NPD, #narcissism, etc. You won’t be able to add too many so make sure they sum up the content and are popular words people search for. Doing this works because even if people aren’t following you on Twitter, if they look up a topic by using a certain #hashtag, your article will be listed and it will get a lot more views than if you do not use hashtags. It may sound #stupid, but it works for me every time.
8. Reference and link to other blogs and websites in your posts.
Not only does it appear you’ve done your research by quoting or referring to material from other blogs, every time you link to another blog or site, it creates a trackback, which appears on that blog, and from there people visiting the other blog can click on the trackback or pingback link and be taken to your blog post. It also helps foster goodwill between bloggers–most bloggers love to be credited and have their blog linked to, and they may recommend yours or link to yours in return. I can’t even tell you how many of my “referrers” are blogs I linked to months ago in a single blog post.
9. Make your content easy to find.
I’ve seen blogs you can’t navigate because there’s no option for finding what you’re looking for. That drives me crazy. No one wants to scroll through every article you ever wrote to find what they want to read (and how would they know it exists anyway if there’s no navigational tools?) At the very least, use a search bar (which you can add easily via the Widgets on the Admin page), but I recommend using a few other features too that make navigating your site easier, such as a tag cloud, a category list, a table of contents, or topics listed in the header or sidebar (mine are listed in the header and some include subtopics). If people can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll throw their hands up in frustration and go to other blogs instead.
10. Make good use of tags and categories. I still have a lot to learn about this. I tend to use too many tags and categories, and I hear this is a no-no. I’m getting better though. Like Twitter #hashtags, using relevant words and phrases that describe your article’s content draws viewers, because when they’re searching for a topic in a search engine such as Google, tag words will make sure your article is listed there, even if it’s on page 20 to start with. As your blog grows, you will find your Google rankings rising and some articles may start appearing on the first page if they get enough views. There is no reason why you should have to pay for SEO. All you need is patience.
11. Make your blog mobile-friendly.
Just about everyone these days has a Smartphone with Internet access and many people even use it more often than their computer for reading web content. WordPress has a feature under Admin Tools for making your blog readable on mobile phones. Doing this will also increase your traffic because it makes it possible for people to read your blog even when they’re at work, walking the dog, eating dinner at the Olive Garden, or taking a bath.
12. Don’t let bullies and trolls intimidate you or destroy your will to blog. If you blog regularly, and especially if you start to get a lot of views and hits, be prepared for this. There are going to be people who won’t like you, your blog, or your content, or are jealous of you or just want to stir up trouble because that’s what trolls do. Be forewarned: it’s not a matter of if but when. Fortunately, other than nursing your hurt feelings (if you’re sensitive), dealing with these people shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. It’s pretty easy to control your haters on WordPress. You can’t block people the way you can on social media, but you can delete (or not approve) their comments. It’s your blog; you can write about whatever you wish, and if some people have a problem with what you have to say, they are basically telling you how to run your blog or even whether you have the right to blog, and neither of those things is okay. THEY are not your boss–YOU are. You can’t be fired from your job as a blogger–you can only quit. Write about what you want and put those nasty comments where they belong–in the Trash. Lick your wounds and keep on writing.
If you are being stalked or threatened (like a certain very popular WordPress blogger was recently), you can always set your blog to private or password-protected for awhile until the dust settles, or disable comments. With any luck, you won’t ever have to do either of those things.