Due to recent problems with my former host, WritersinCharge moved to Hostgator last week. Unfortunately, to avoid losing blog posts and files during the transfer we decided not to publish any post. That explains why there was no post on WritersinCharge throughout last week and Yesterday.
We’re now back on track and this week will be loaded!
Today is a Tuesday and I’ll be answering a question from Ioana:
“Lets say somebody took your advice on the importance of having their own blog and decided to start it up. How would they get people to reach their blog at first? They don’t know anybody, no referrals, just some articles written but nobody to provide feedback. Are there certain communities for bloggers where they could publicize their work? I know that a good way to promote yourself is to guest post, by when you are so new, you don’t have the credibility to offer your articles to other bloggers.”
Recent data from Hubspot has shown that blogging can be more effective than a $54,000 Superbowl ad.
You’re gradually killing your career if you’re a freelance writer without a blog.
You might have gotten clients by sending pitches and you might have a stable freelance writing career, but the importance of a blog should never be underestimated.
As I’ve explicitly stated on this blog before, having a blog is the best way to take control of your freelance writing career.
Of course, while having a blog is a must, having one doesn’t automatically mean clients will start flocking after you.
In fact, starting a blog is the easiest part of being a blogger. You have to invest your time, money and effort into other important and often complicated tasks, such as marketing yourself.
Interestingly, contrary to what most people think, marketing doesn’t have to be complicated.
This article will be a low-budget guide to marketing your blog. This will help you drive more traffic and as a result – clients to your freelance writing business.
Why You Should Get Traffic to Your Blog
I recently published a Slideshare presentation on how blogging can be used to fuel a business. One thing I was very clear about (in that slide) is how powerful blogging has been for mine.In a nutshell, the idea is that my blog is the sole source of clients for my freelance writing business. And here are some highlights:
- I made a mid five-figure salary from freelance writing in 2011; which was my first full year as a freelance writer.
- I’m on track to make more this year. In fact, I’m already having five-figure months as a freelance writer
- I’ve been featured on Forbes, been published on Problogger, been interviewed on MakeaLivingWriting.com and also been featured on various magazines and newspapers
- I’ve even received an offer to work full-time as a freelance writer in the U.S.
If I’m being honest, I doubt any of the above would have happened without this blog.
Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to say that all the above happened because my design is unique and my content is epic, I’d be lying if I said that.
That’s far from the truth.
While those factors influence the success I’m experiencing to some extent, ultimately, the results I’m getting is directly proportional to the traffic this blog is getting.
In other words, the more traffic I get:
- The more clients I get – it leads to more income for my freelance writing business
- The more interview and feature opportunities I receive – the more it translates to exposure and social proof for me
- The more confirmation I’m given – the more I’m convinced I’m actually making a difference.
Unfortunately, while you’d probably be happy to hear that blog traffic stems from writing great content (after all, writing is something you enjoy) it simply isn’t
According to data from Nielsen, there are currently almost 200 million blogs online, and at least a million new blogs are added every day. Now, imagine how difficult it’ll be for these blogs to gain attention.
The bad news: a large percentage of these bloggers are vying for the attention of the same audience you want.
The good news: literally 99.9% of these bloggers are unwilling to put in the effort it takes to make their blog a success.
Writer’s have a reputation for being broke, and it’s up to you to determine whether you want to change this or remain a broke writer.
If you’re ready to make a change, this is your guide.
You don’t have to worry about:
- Learning nonexistent marketing jargon marketers want you to believe exist
- Spending a gazillion dollars on any form of marketing
- Waiting for years without getting results, only to keep hearing the same advice; “Keep at it. It takes months to get results. Keep at it!“
This is the practical guide to getting traffic for writers, and you’ll start seeing results almost as soon as you start implementing these tips.
The 6-Step, Freelance Writer’s Guide to Getting Traffic on A Low Budget
Without further ado, here are 6 steps you should follow to market your blog and get traffic as a freelance writer.
Step #1 – Prepare Your Blog
It’s easy to get distracted by the idea of wanting to get traffic to your blog.
Getting traffic alone isn’t enough. You also have to look for ways to retain visitors to your blog.
1. Get Good Hosting: If you’re hosting your website for free, or on a cheap website to save costs, then you’re making a dangerous mistake. Your website could collapse one day when there’s an influx of traffic.
If you’re using blogger.com or wordpress.com, these are digital sharecroppers that could pull the plug on your blog at will and there’s nothing you can do.
Using a reputable hosting company like Hostgator could be what you need.
2. Get a Professional Design: It’s easy to use free, unprofessional designs but why create a blog in the first place if it won’t be professional?
Remember, your blog represents your business and you won’t want your business to look like every other website online.
You want it to be unique.
Getting a custom developer to build something special for your blog can be quite expensive but for $47 – $100, you can get cheap, quality blog themes from reliable sources.
Two options I recommend are:
- Genesis Theme
- Elegant Themes
3. Focus on Capturing Readers’ Emails: You won’t suddenly start getting thousands of daily visits.
It’s about getting one user to tell another, and then repeating the cycle over again until your traffic is established.
The best way to do this is by capturing readers’ email to enable you repeatedly get in touch with them. They’ll often happily give it you if you have something to offer.
You can do this by creating a free eBook or eCourse on the subject of your expertise, and then give it to them in exchange for their emails
Step #2 – Write Epic Content
Getting traffic to your blog can get very complicated to an extent that you forget what really matters and start chasing traffic dreams; trying the latest SEO tactic, doing link exchanges or purchasing irrelevant traffic.
The problem with this is that you’ll get just traffic.
This isn’t about getting traffic. It’s about getting quality traffic.
Traffic and quality traffic are two different things: ‘traffic’ is merely numbers. Quality traffic signifies those visitors are actually interested in what you have to say.
You want the latter, and the only way to get it is by writing epic content.
The amount of time and effort you invest in your content will determine how much traffic you get.
Step #3 – Set a Goal
You don’t just want traffic.
Unless you have a clear idea of what you want and exactly how much of it you want, you’ll hardly get results.
When setting goals, it’s important to start small.
If your blog is relatively new, you can start with a goal of 10 daily visitors (besides your mom and your cat).
You need to get 10 visitors before getting 50, and you need to get 100 visitors to get 1,000 visitors.
Set realistic and actionable goals that you can meet and follow the tips in this article to achieve these goals.
Step #4 – Study as Many Traffic Techniques as You Can
A magic bullet to getting blog traffic simply doesn’t exist.
You’ll probably try and fail at one or two techniques before you find what will work for you.
While everyone might be raving about guest blogging today, it isn’t necessarily the best way to get traffic. Limiting yourself to guest blogging alone means limiting the amount of traffic you can get.
Study at least 5 – 10 traffic techniques to know how they work, so you can develop the right traffic strategy to grow your blog.
Step #5 – Develop a Traffic Strategy
While it’s recommended to study as many traffic techniques as you can, rushing in to implement all of them will only leave you burned out.
Do your research and determine which technique will be most effective for you.
Once you’ve determined that, develop a strategy to help you get the best from this technique.
A strategy is a system designed to help you get the best from one or more traffic techniques.
Here’s an example of a traffic strategy I developed for guest blogging last year:
Knowing how important search engine traffic is and how much impact quality, relevant backlinks can have on it; also knowing how effective guest blogging is when it comes to getting quality backlinks, I decided to write 31 guest posts in one week.
I submitted these guest posts to several quality blogs, which resulted in an increase of over 60,000 search engine visitors in 6 months.
When you look at my strategy, you’ll notice it was developed with the knowledge and understanding of the following traffic techniques:
- Link building
- Guest blogging
What I didn’t reveal is the fact that I’ve written hundreds of guest posts before. They didn’t work well because there was no strategy behind them.
However, with a solid strategy, 30 guest posts did what over hundred could not do.
Developing an effective traffic strategy will save you hundreds of hours in marketing.
Step #6 – Master the Tactic that Works Best for You
Seeing how effective guest blogging has been for me over the years, I decided to focus on it as my sole traffic generation strategy.
- I’ve written guest posts that have sent me hundreds of subscribers and thousands of visitors
- I’ve mastered the art of using guest blogging for SEO and have grown my blog as a result
This doesn’t mean I don’t have other strategies or I have no plans to use any other strategy in the future.
I have an email list that sends me thousands of visitors monthly and I’ve experimented with Slideshare to create a slide that got over 10,000 views.
I’ll probably try more traffic tactics in the future, but guest blogging alone has established my blog because I mastered it.
What this reveals is that getting traffic isn’t about trying hundreds of tactics but about mastering one or two tactics that can work for you.
7 Traffic Techniques You Can Study Today, and Resources that Can Help You Master them
Step 4 in this article says you should study as many traffic techniques as you can. Here are 7 traffic techniques you can study today, as well as links to help you master them:
1. Guest Blogging: Guest blogging is the process of publishing an article – free or paid – on another website as a guest author, with the aim of establishing your authority or brand, gaining exposure, and building links that can help improve your search engine traffic.
Guest Blogging Resources:
2. SEO: Also known as search engine optimization, SEO is the process of optimizing your blog to rank better for keywords in the search engines and get more traffic as a result.
When you want to find something online, the first place you go to is Google, Bing or Yahoo. Now, imagine if you get ranked for a keyword most people are searching for? You get more traffic!
That’s what SEO helps you achieve.
3. Document Sharing: Write quality eBooks and submit them to document sharing sites.
You’ll benefit by embedding various links to your blog in the eBooks you publish on these sites.
Document Sharing Resources:
4. Email Marketing: This is the process of building a quality email list using various techniques, and then channeling traffic to your blog from your email list by sending subscribers links to new blog posts.
Email Marketing Resources:
- A Beginners Guide to Successful Email Marketing
- The Definitive Guide to Starting a Profitable Email Newsletter
5. Social Media Marketing: This is the process of leveraging social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to build a following that can be directed to your blog.
Social Media Resources:
6. Online Community Sites: Leverage forums and online communities such as Yahoo! Answers and Quora to get traffic to your blog.
Online Community Resources:
- 10 Steps to Get Traffic from Yahoo! Answers
- How to Get Traffic from Yahoo! Answers
- The Marketer’s Guide to Quora
7. Comment on other Blogs: While this shouldn’t be seen solely as a traffic technique, it can be very effective if used wisely.
Some blogs will send you dozens of visitors if you contribute the right comment. It’s all about doing it right.
Blog Commenting Resources:
- How to Use Blog Commenting to Get Valuable Backlinks and Traffic
- Blog Commenting Flops: Do These to Lose Traffic and Links
There You Have it!
The above is a practical, low-budget guide to marketing your blog.
Most of the techniques listed above will cost you nothing, aside from a great deal of your time mastering and implementing them. The good news is, the rewards can be great.
Do you have any other traffic generation tips for writers? Kindly share them in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links.