Well, growing traffic will take patience, and you won’t get a flood of new visitors overnight (at least, not without some luck). But you can do things that will start to get you noticed, and start to get some traffic, and over time, those things will add up.
The more of them you can do, the faster your traffic will come.
- Build a destination.
The first step, of course, is writing the content. There’s nothing more important than having great content if you want to attract readers. If you think you can skip this step, you should probably skip blogging. However, it’s not enough to write one or two great posts and then try to attract readers. Think about it: you get a few readers to come to your blog, and they read your post and like it, and then start looking around for more. And they find an empty blog. They’ll leave, and you just lost your first readers. Instead, concentrate first on building a great destination for readers. Have a couple of weeks’ worth of great content, at least, before you start the promotion. Then, when they come to read one of your posts, they’ll see a lot of other good ones on your blog, and perhaps subscribe or at least come back for another visit.
This is one of the earliest techniques for new bloggers: find a popular blog, and leave an intelligent comment with a link back to your site. However, many bloggers do it the wrong way — they just flood a bunch of blogs with their links, and are essentially spammers. Other bloggers will not appreciate your comment spam, and readers of those blogs won’t either. You will be getting your links out there, but you’ll be turning off your target audience — and perhaps getting flagged as spam in the process. Instead, become a regular commenter on a bunch of popular blogs, without leaving a bunch of links. Now and then, link to a post of yours if it’s relevant and useful — with an emphasis on useful. Don’t just post it because you wrote about a similar topic. If you do this on a few really high-traffic blogs, keeping the links to a minimum, you’ll get a few readers and begin your slow growth. Again, aim for slow growth, not an overnight flood.
Similar to the comment strategy, but on popular forums in your niche. Again, DO NOT spam forums with your links. You will get banned. In fact, don’t even post links at first. Become a regular contributor in forums, a valuable member of those communities, and then offer relevant and useful links when appropriate. This strategy will take much more time and effort than spamming, but it will pay off much more in the long run. Again, target the forums with high traffic to make it worth your time.
- Submit to bigger blogs.
When you’ve written an outstanding post, email the editors of high-traffic blogs with a link. Don’t do this every day, as they will start to treat you as spam. And don’t expect them to link to you every time either — they get thousands of such emails. The key is just to make them aware of you and your blog and some of your absolute best posts. If they don’t link to you, fine. But maybe they’ll at least read it and keep you in mind next time. And if you get lucky enough to get a link from a high-traffic blog, that’s one of the best ways to start the traffic snowball rolling.
- Social media.
I wouldn’t submit your own articles to the social media (Digg, Reddit, etc.) as a regular policy. In fact, the best policy is to let the more active members of those social media submit it for you … you’re more likely to get popular then. But in the beginning, those active members won’t even know you exist. In that case, you may want to submit some of your best articles. They probably won’t go anywhere, but you might get a few readers in the meantime. Another strategy is to become friends with popular members of social media, and when you have an outstanding article, send them a link and perhaps they’ll consider submitting it. Don’t pressure them, though, and definitely don’t spam them. If you get an article that does well in the social media, your snowball of traffic will build up big time.
- Guest blogging.
I’m a big fan of this technique, as you’ve read in my recent post, “Why Guest Blogging is a Powerful Way to Gain Exposure for Your Blog“. And it’s something you can do even when you don’t have a lot of readers yet. You should have some good articles written before you approach other bloggers about writing guest posts for them. And when you approach another blogger, send them one of your best articles, so they can see what a great writer you are. If you get lucky, they’ll agree! Do this with as many bloggers in your niche as you can — the more guest posts you write elsewhere, the better. And if other bloggers are kind enough to write a guest post for you, even better!
- Link to lots of other blogs.
Other bloggers like it when you link to them, and if you do, they’ll probably notice. And if you get lucky, they’ll link back! The key is to keep your links relevant, and part of a very useful post. So create a resource post, one that will be extremely helpful to your readers, with lots of links to other articles on the topic. It’ll eventually get you some links back.
- Answer questions.
If you are an expert on a topic (and if you write about a topic for long enough, you become an expert), then it’s useful to write answers to questions on the topic in popular sites, such as Technorati’s WTF, Yahoo Answers, etc. You’ll get exposure to a lot of other readers, and if they like your answer, they just might click on your link back to your blog. This can be significant for a young blog.
There are hundreds of Internet directories out there, along the lines of Yahoo (Google “directories”). Now, it costs cash to submit to Yahoo, but many of these other directories are free. I should note that a lot of them don’t get a lot of traffic, but every link counts, and you may get a few readers from them, which is important early on. Here are a few directories to get you started.
- Make blogging friends.
This is another of my favorite strategies. Too often bloggers become competitive, but the truth is, if you help each other out, you both win. If you try to beat each other up, you both lose. The key is to collaborate, be friendly, and be helpful. Perhaps submit good articles from other blogs to the social media. Perhaps drop them a line and compliment something they did well. Perhaps ask a question (be genuine), or suggest that you collaborate somehow. In other words, just get to know the other bloggers in your niche (and outside of the niche too), and work together, not against each other. These types of relationships benefit everyone involved, and it can make blogging a genuine pleasure