I was talking with a friend the other day and he was bemoaning the stats to his (fairly new) website. Traffic was plummeting from what it was the first time he posted and it seemed that with every new post, it got cut in half again. Was it the content? Should he be posting more often?
Alas’ advice to new bloggers
I am far from being any sort of expert on how to drive up traffic, but in the two plus years I’ve been blogging here, I have made note of a few pretty basic things. So if you’re a new blogger and you’re agonizing over your Analytics, here are a few thoughts:
1. Stats aren’t everything. In fact, I have more or less stopped paying attention to my Analytics (search terms are the main reason I look these days and only because I like to laugh at them) because it served no real purpose and it had a tendency to drag me down and help me lose sight of why I was even blogging in the first place. I’m not saying no one should make traffic a priority, but if you’re writing for any other reason at all, I advise to try to keep that reason the main one. If Analytics is taking away from your joy, then turn it off or don’t look at it. You’ll feel a million times better.
Also, many people use feed readers. They might be out there reading and not coming to your site. If you insist on tracking these numbers for added self-torture, check out Feedburner.
2. It takes time to build a following. Unless you have already been out there interacting with your target audience in some way, no one is going to know who you are or why they should read what you have to say. The closest you’re going to get to instant fame is if you have something linking back to you from a bigger/more popular site and you have written something just completely fantastic. Even then, you’ll need to have quantity and quality to sustain interest. Most blogs are going to grow in popularity just a little bit at a time, so check those dreams of instant Internet fame at the door.
3. Pimp yourself. No one else is likely to do this for you. A key to this tactic is to do it with a degree of class. Go comment on posts by other bloggers who are reaching your target audience already and make sure to leave a good, relevant and interesting comment. If people are interested enough in what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, they’ll be more likely to click that hyperlink. Do not ever pull a stunt where you’re commenting just to say “I wrote about this the other day and it was pretty awesome. Everyone should check it out.” That’s a huge turnoff.
You should also leverage social media. Get on Twitter or Facebook. Cross-link all your Internet presences. Be open. Be friendly. Start conversations. I’m not sure how other blogging communities interact, but I can vouch for the WoW community being highly social. And a little bit frightening in their collective insanity.
4. Be responsive. This goes along with number three, but I think a lot of bloggers fail to recognize the impact that responding to comments made on their posts can have. I always appreciate when a blogger takes the time to reply to what I had to say. It feels a lot more like a conversation and like they do care that I took the time to make a reply. I don’t think there’s any set rule where you have to reply to every comment ever, but trying to make it a general practice can’t hurt.
5. I don’t actually have a number five, I just think five is a better place to end than four is. I could probably think of something, but to tell the truth, I feel a bit stupid writing this post at all. So I’m not going to stretch for something sorta related and pretend it’s a real thing that’ll help a new blogger get established. I guess I could mention Blog Azeroth. I did say hi there when I was pretty new and lurked about for a few weeks before I got distracted by something shiny and apparently never managed to look back. Everyone was nice and I think it is a great resource for WoW bloggers, if it’s something they want to get involved in.
Bloggers who actually know less obvious things a new blogger could do to feel successful in their endeavor? Chime in any time. I’m going to go blush in a corner for being such a poser and writing this post.