Increase traffic to your blog without spending a cent...
I'm tired of clicking on these sorts of visuals on Pinterest, only to be led to a pseudo expert selling me their 30 page book compiled from other visuals they've seen on Pinterest for just $299.99.
You too? I don't know about you, but I always immediately regret clicking on it, because clearly, their aim was to get me to contribute to THEIR traffic!
Or, someone in another country selling me their add-on guaranteed to multiply my blog traffic 10 times over with this simple tool, which is free now, but which asks for the blood of my first born after 30 days.
It's like those advertisements where you get a free set of steak knives with every order, but only if you call in the next 10 minutes.
Come on fellow bloggers. Aren't we all better than that?
I've been at this blogging thing for a while now.
Like about 7 years. That kind of a 'while'.
I only started taking it seriously about eighteen months ago though.
There was a good reason for this, as I was successfully blogging and being paid for it, at a high profile Australian money saving website, for a good portion of those 7 years. They liked me. Their members liked me. I liked them and their members a whole lot too. Lovely, genuine, salt of the Earth people, all of them. And with at least half of my life spent as a single Mum, and a child of a single Mum with seven kids, I had a lot of good stuff to offer. It went swimmingly for a long time. I made friends, and joy-of-joys, made a bit of money too.
So there I was, blogging for someone else, and generally neglecting my own humble blog, right when blogging was just taking off. Cest` la Vie. Do you hear me sigh?
My friends, both in real life and the blogging world kept urging me to take 'my own blog' more seriously instead of giving all my ideas to someone else. But as I was being paid, and because I'm a loyal kinda person, I felt that was the wrong way to look at it.
Well all good things came to an end, as these things do, earlier this year, when my agreement came with them came to it's natural conclusion. Heck, I'd had a good 7 years with them. I couldn't be too sad, could I?
Fortunately, about a year prior to this event, I finally started taking 'my own blog', this one, a wee bit more seriously. I began working hard on deciding what kind of blogger I was.
This, as it turned out, was harder than I thought. Everything I'd read, said to find your niche, and that people don't like to read 'lifestyle' blogs. Hmmmm. I think I kicked that one to the kerb. Sorry.
I do however, have a background in Marketing and Advertising, so I dug deep and remembered this little gem....
DEFINE YOUR BRAND
Now my brand is all about saving money. It used to be about hard core money saving strategies like menu planning, cooking from scratch, and generally living well on a budget. Heck, that's how I came to be paid to blog for Simple Savings (which incidentally is still a wonderful site, and well worth a look).
Well nine years have passed, and my husband and I only have one Fairy Child left at home. Our three sons have all flown the coop, blessing us with two granddaughters and a grandson, who we cherish. We are mortgage free, and have a thriving business. We're currently setting up another that will serve us well in retirement, and we are fortunate enough to enjoy frequent little overseas jaunts. Things are different at Chez Mimi, and we don't need to be quite as hard core as we once were.
But old habits die hard, and now we live well on a budget because we like it. I like it. I can't see the point in tossing a lot of cash around just because I can, nor do I want to line someone elses pockets with my retirement fund.
So yes, Nannas recipes are well thumbed and well loved, hand crafted gifts are the order of the day, and Motherly Advice on how you can do the same, comes thick and fast, here at A Tray of Bliss. I menu plan and budget and insource, because it makes my life feel well-ordered and less chaotic, I write a shopping list because, well, it's just sensible isn't it. And over the years, I've learned to cook as well as any of those TV Chef wannabes, so we eat well for very little. It follows naturally too, that our preferred mode of entertainment, is at home, enjoying our lovely garden, special family memories and general homespun goodness.
So I guess that is my 'brand', and for want of a better title for it, I call it The Modern Day Nannas Guide To Life, as shown by my tagline at the top of my post. This tagline pretty much frames what topics are included in my blog. That's why you also see a page there called 50 & Fab...because dang, that's who I want to be!
So...who are YOU?
If you had to sum up YOU in two sentences, who would you be? And can you blog about that?
Because like any writing, people will see straight through you if you're not being the real 'you'.
The word 'bliss' has always been part of my vocabulary. My wish was always to live a peaceful, BLISS-ful life. My ideas on what that would be changed often, but the word was always in there. Hence my blog name. What word is part of your vocabulary when you imagine your ideal life?
Maybe therein is a great name for your blog.
Next...what do you DO?
This will be your tagline, and will define what you write about.
As I have already said, I write about my life as a Modern Day Nanna. People seem to like it. I didn't listen when they said 'Lifestyle bloggers don't get traffic'. I just wrote what I knew. You can too.
Here's my second tip...are you ready? And no, there's no steak knives with it...
BUILD A COMMUNITY
I have increased my blog traffic ten times over in the last twelve months.
I did this in a few different ways, and I am by no means a Social Media expert. I'm a Baby Boomer, who remains in many respect, a bit clueless when it comes to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on. But I plug along, leaning heavily on my Blogging friends when necessary, and we all learn together.
How do you build a community? Well, as in real life, I guess it comes down to common interests.
I started by looking at the blogs I like, and following them. As with anything, there was a common thread, and a connecting interest. I started spending an hour a day, just commenting on my favourite blogs. And not stuff like 'great work, keep it up'. I'd read their posts thoroughly and make intelligent comments about what they'd written or shared. I'd get to know them as people. I'd read their archives and see whether there were things I could learn from their experience and make comments when I did. I'd make sure I was a repeat visitor and commenter. I'd tell them if their post made me laugh or cry or generated a memory for me.
After a month, the visits to my own blog started to reflect this and the people I followed, began following me, and commenting, and wanting to get to know me better too.
Then my friend Annabel over at The Bluebirds are Nesting, told me about Linky Parties. It's like putting a little advertisement for your blog on somebody elses blog, and all they ask in return, is for you to do the same for them by advertising their linky party on your blog. All very democratic if you ask me.
Wow...what a game changer. Suddenly all those blogs I'd been trying to find by Googling 'Shabby Chic Blog' or 'Arty Blog' or 'Money Saving Blog' were at my fingertips, and finding my own community was easy. I'd visit them, leave a comment, and they'd return the favour. It wasn't long before I decided that having my own Linky Party was a good strategy and Five Star Frou-Frou was born. Five Star Frou-Frou has now evolved into an ongoing linkup here, where instead of you linking weekly and me featuring my favourites, you link when you want, with your pretties projects or most heart warming posts, and I choose a favourite to feature at the bottom of each of my own posts. If I post three times a week, that's three potential features for YOU. That's triple the chance of being featured, than you have in other linkups. What's not to like?
Between visiting other peoples Linky Parties, and generating my own, I was suddenly looking at the kind of traffic that I thought was a pipe dream. But oh, what a lot of work! This stuff is not for the faint hearted if you're even half serious about it.
I easily spend up to four hours a day now to maintain my current traffic. That's visiting, commenting, linking, and generating new material for A Tray of Bliss.
Which brings me to my next tip...
All of those tempting images you see on Pinterest claiming they'll help you make money with your blog if you'll just part with $39.99, or wait $29.99 if you try to click away, are tugging your chain.
How do you think THEY'RE making money??
Tell you what. Just write 'WORK HARD AT IT' on a piece of paper, prop it in front of you, and keep your $29.99. Please.
It's like I've always said with saving money, or earning money...be persistent, practice, get good enough at what you're doing so that somebody will pay you for it. And if you can't afford to invest money, then you have to invest TIME.
There are many ways to invest time in your blog. Here are a few.
1. Get serious about one new skill. That could be something related to your primary blog posts, like cake decorating, relationship counselling, ministry, or knitting. It could also be taking a Creative Writing course, or a Photography course or a Pattern Drafting course. Anything that will give you a skill from which others can learn.
2. Plan your posts and give them your all. Every post is like a little advertisement for your blog, so treat each one as if it were going on a billboard on the busiest highway in your town. Use the best photographs you can. I have my favourite spot in the house where I take nearly all my photographs. The light is perfect, and it's handy. Aim to take photos early in the morning or late in the afternoon (commonly called The Golden Hour) when shadows are fewer and light is softer. I find using a plain piece of black or white project cardboard underneath and behind my subject, helps diffuse light and add definition too. I've recently heard that bathtubs also make a darned good place to take good shots, although I admit I haven't tried that one.
3. Learn from other bloggers. I am constantly studying my favourite blogs, and learning from them. I pick up photography tips from them, I look at their most viewed posts and ask myself what are they doing that I can adopt, and I use them as a barometer of where and how I can improve.
4. Watch for trends in your favourite blogs and plan ahead for a great post reflecting that season. Annual events like Mothers Day, National Days, and Seasonal changes are all great themes for a post that generates traffic. Additionally, it does seem that things go in circles a bit. I was once doing a series on tallying up my money saving efforts for the week. Now so many are doing it (and some of them are doing it more effectively than I was!), that I am happy to join them and devote my post previously shown on that day, to another topic. Grow and change as needs dictate. Don't keep doing the same thing over and over, if it's time for a new idea.
DON'T GIVE UP
I can't tell you how many times I've thought this was a fools game. I don't make a lot of money from my blog. I don't think I ever will. I'm just not that interested in SEO's, monetizing, and Tweeting. All power to those clever bods who can understand all that stuff. It's just not my game. I stick to the parts of blogging that I enjoy, that I find rewarding in their own way.
I'll tell you one thing though. Every single time I think I'll just give this blogging thing away, something happens. I get a sweet comment, or an email that just blows me away, or a sudden spurt of traffic from an image pinned on Pinterest, like, two years ago.
Because that's the thing. Blogging is a long term thing. As with all things in life, the quick fix never lasts. Don't think you can post some half-assed stuff like 'I made $10,000 in my first three months of blogging...Give me $300 and I'll show you how'...puhhhhleeeease.... and get a following because you've Social-Media-ed it to death, and a few people 'liked' it. There's more to blogging than that.
I think that if you followed my four humble tips, given for free, that you might find that they work for you. Not now, not today, probably not in the next three months. Give it a year, then let me know.
I think you'll find you've made progress.
I could be wrong.
I very well might be.
But at least I haven't asked you for $29.99 and offered you a free set of steak knives if you order in the next ten minutes.