Are you feeling frustrated because you’re not getting enough traffic to your blog?
Over the past 12 months parenting blogger Jenni Fuchs has seen her web traffic increase by almost 50% - because she is doing many things I would recommend to attract visitors to your website, encourage them to stick around - and come back for more.
With that in mind, here’s a list of the ten most important things you should be doing to build an audience for your blog (with examples from Jenni’s excellent blog The Bear and The Fox).
1. Create a content calendar
Jenni has a content calendar and plans her blog posts months ahead of publication, so she knows exactly what she is going to publish, where, and when. This allows her to approach her blog like a magazine with regular features like her picture book round-ups which are always published on Fridays.
This not only helps her save time, and stay organised, it allows her to plan timely, seasonal content, such as five happy hoppy books for Easter, Halloween pumpkin window pictures and our top five Christmas movies for kids.
Seasonal content is engaging because not only does it feel relevant (and people generally only consume content that is relevant to them,) it also often solves an immediate problem for your audience.
2. Treat your blog like a magazine (and act like a journalist)
Journalists don’t publish content whenever they feel like it. They publish content on specific days or specific times - never missing a deadline.
This creates dependability - and/when people depend on you as their key source of information/news on a particular topic, they’ll keep coming back for more (and make referrals to others). This creates brand loyalty, which is crucial when it comes to building an audience.
Jenni posts content on her blog twice a week - and never misses a deadline. She also constantly asks herself the question journalists ask themselves before publishing any piece of content: ‘why do people need to hear about this now (or on x date)?’
Treating her blog like a magazine helps Jenni keep her content relevant and timely for her audience. For example, when she noticed in my Media Diary that it was Hedgehog Day - and it happened to fall on a Friday - she did a round-up of hedgehog picture books.
You don’t have to publish twice a week to build an audience for your blog, but you do need to be consistent, relevant and timely.
3. Write blog posts that solve your audience’s problems
Jenni's content solves her readers' problems. For example:
- Recipes for children
- Children’s book reviews
- Things not to say to boys who like pink.
Not only does this help her create better quality content, it also makes her content planning easier.
As Jenni explains:
When I first started the blog, I was writing about everything and anything. Now I ask myself, ‘Is this relevant to families?’ For example, I used to blog about all my recipes, but now I only make those that were a success with my kids in to blog posts. Because no matter how tasty, why would I recommend a recipe on a family lifestyle blog that even my own kids won’t eat? I used to write about all my travels, including work-related trips. Now I only focus on those that are relevant to families. People often ask me how I manage to be so consistent and/or never run out of ideas. My number one tip for staying consistent is to always remind yourself who your audience is.
Drawing on your own personal experiences can be another great way to create compelling blog content - providing that content is relevant to your audience and solves a problem for them.
Jenni writes reviews of places she’s visited with her children - like this post on Edinburgh Castle with kids - including her own personal photos.
She has also used my Media Diary to generate timely, seasonal content ideas. One of her most popular posts - about raising bilingual children - was inspired by a date she found in the diary: International Mother Language Day.
“I hadn’t heard of it [International Mother Language Day] before, so when I spotted it in the Media Diary I immediately knew I’d have to think of something for that since it was so spot on for our bilingual family. I’d written about raising bilingual kids before, so this pushed me to come up with a new angle.’
4. Create both evergreen and seasonal content
Creating evergreen blog posts (i.e. those that don’t date or become irrelevant) can give your content a much longer shelf life. Unsurprisingly, Jenni’s most popular blog posts are all evergreen pieces of content.
For example how to upcycle daddy’s old shirt to make a kids’ doctor coat costume is not only her most popular blog post ever - it’s also been the most popular blog post every month in 2018 (apart from August). This post also appears on the first page of Google (for the search term ‘DIY doctors’ coat).
Jenni’s second most popular post is on how to decorate a cake in the style of the popular children’s book Hooray For Hat. This post comes up first on the first page of Google for the search term ‘hooray for hat cake.’
5. Use Pinterest to drive traffic to your website
Jenni also uses Pinterest to drive traffic to her website creating Pinterest friendly images for each blog post (Pinterest favours long, tall images).
Unsurprisingly - her top-performing blog posts are her most popular pins on Pinterest.
6. Share your content on social media
Jenni is also consistent when it comes to sharing her content on social media - mostly on Twitter and Instagram. And she doesn’t just share new content, she promotes content from her archives too. It’s important to remember that not everyone will see everything you post the first, second or third time….so don’t be afraid to promote new content multiple times and keep doing it.
7. Add value with content upgrades
Jenni also adds value for her audience by offering free downloads (often referred to as ‘content upgrades’). Her autumn wish list blog post is one of her most popular this year and came with a free checklist to help readers to create their own autumn checklist.
Pro tip: Jenni could build her audience more quickly if she asked her readers to input their email address to receive the checklist.
8. Create guest content
Creating guest content in the form of podcast interviews, guest blogs and press coverage can be a great way to get your content in front of new and bigger audiences.
Jenni has been featured on a number of guest blogs and podcasts this year including:
Living with kids Design Mom
She has also joined some Facebook groups where bloggers collaborate on round-up posts with the aim of getting their content in front of new and/or bigger audiences. For example: 10 amazing apple recipes.
Collaborating with other bloggers also has the added benefit of growing your social media following, as they’ll also share that content with their own followers - introducing you and your work to new audiences.
9. Repurpose your content
Jenni repurposes her blog photographs on social media and on Pinterest - making every piece of content go further.
She points out, however, that not every piece of content will work for every platform.
I always ask myself which platform my content is best suited to. Whilst everything can be content (my kids are used to the fact mummy always has to photograph everything we eat, do etc), it’s not always necessarily suited to the blog, so some things just end up on social media instead. It’s helped me to narrow down my blog content and categories, and to keep the quality on the blog at a high standard.
10. Track your numbers
This is SO important.
Jenni uses Google Analytics to track key metrics such as where her readers are coming from, how long they are staying on the site and what they are looking at while they’re there (are they looking at multiple pages or just leaving after one, for example).
This allows her to tweak what she is doing to get better results. For example, she has recently learned that 41% of her traffic is coming from referrals (37% of those are social media) and a whopping 68% are coming from Pinterest - which suggests she should be investing more time on that platform. Her organic traffic was just 3% which suggests she could be doing much more to help readers find her through Google search.
Although Jenni is doing brilliantly with her content planning - and is reaping the rewards - there are many more things she could be doing to attract traffic to her website.
- Do keyword research to find out what her ideal readers are searching for in Google (and improve her organic search). She could use: Answer the Public, Keyword Finder or LSI Graph to help with this
- Add more internal links in her blog posts (i.e. links to other relevant blogs she has created)
- Revive her monthly newsletter so she can let her subscribers know about her content
- Create more content upgrades (like her autumn checklist) to add new subscribers to her list
- Use Yoast on her website to improve her SEO
Need help with your content planning? Order your copy of the 2020 Social Media Diary & Planner.