On the first of January, I had a bit of a brainwave. I was thinking about what I want to put out in to the internet world this year and which direction I want to move forward with my blog. There is always a whirl of thoughts about ideas and my mind runs at a million miles an hour with all of these bright ideas and inspirations but I don’t always know what people really want. Well, according to Twitter (which you should totally follow me on because apparently I’m okay at it), you want this.
Sure, I love writing a review. Who wouldn’t love a holiday or a product in exchange for sharing your opinion with the world? I love going on holidays as much as the next person and writing them, albeit isn’t as fun, is some of my best content. Trying out restaurants and practical tourist information is my most popular content, but, I don’t always enjoy writing it. Don’t get me wrong, I love knowing it’s helped. But, there certainly is a relief when it’s done.
Everything I publish tends to tap into the non-blogging community, the only comparison I can think of is there being a muggle and wizarding community. Tapping into the muggle community is difficult. It can look easy sharing a blog post with a few photos, but it’s only the wizards, the content creators, who get it. So, why is it so hard to tap into each other and get one other to click our content?
Maybe, we are trying our hardest to tap into the muggle community that tapping into the wizarding community becomes ever harder. If we’re targetting our content at non-bloggers, but it’s bloggers who follow one another on Twitter, we are limiting ourselves. We almost have to appeal to everyone. A seemingly impossible task.
I’m sitting here altering how I write this, because the last thing I want to do is come across as a pompous or patronising know it all. Because, let’s face it. I don’t know a lot about the blogging space. I get questions about DA and SEO all the time, and I just don’t know a lot. This is purely what worked for me in 2018, there’s no saying that it will work for me in 2019. Please, don’t compare your view count to somebody elses and think that makes you not good enough. Numbers don’t define people.
But, a lot of people wanted to know my, “secrets”, so here they are.
Here’s how I gained 100k views in my first year blogging and how I kept that traffic coming back.
It’s been no secret that 2018 was a whirlwind of a year for my blog. On my first month, I had already pulled in over 2,000 views for that month. Sure, it might not sound much, but for somebody who had only put out four blog posts, it wasn’t bad. Flash forward to summer and my blog was starting to hit 15,000 views for the month. It’s like a natural high. You hit one target and then you’re already reaching for the next. Nothing was ever enough. Hitting 20,000 late autumn is where I sat back and realised. That’s a lot of people.
Blogging is difficult, yet somehow I’m doing it… and people are coming back. People are coming up to me in the street saying they read every blog post. People are telling me they have a countdown for my blog posts. People are telling my family they love my blog. So, what exactly was I doing?
People tell me it was luck. But, when I felt like every day was a working day and I was setting alarms to get blog posts out, it didn’t feel very lucky to me. The more successful I got, the seemingly luckier I got. It didn’t feel like luck when I was working so hard.
How I Kept My Traffic Coming Back
Now, I am going to have to state the obvious here. I had to keep making content. Regular content that people wanted to read. I researched. I asked. I engaged. Your audience knows what they want more than you do. Ask them.
I’m in a very fortunate position to do blogging on the side. I don’t have to take up a blog opportunity just because it pays. I don’t have to rely on my traffic to bring an income. Because, if it did, I would faze out very quickly.
But maybe they’re right. Maybe I am lucky.
I’m very lucky to be in a job where I work in the evenings and to have built a pattern that works for me. Blogging in the morning, when I’m at my most productive creatively. Work in the evening.
I’m lucky to be in a position where people are interested in the surroundings. Summer is all year around and it makes for some beautiful photos. I’m lucky to be in a place where I am the only blogger. I’m the only one sharing the positives to what goes on here. Trust me, there are so many. But, all we see is the negative sides to Benidorm, I’m lucky that people want to see the positives here and people are thankful and supportive for me sharing that.
People tell me my blog is a bit of everything. It is. I created my own niche. I took myself away from a saturated market. I didn’t want to limit myself creatively. If you are in the position to allow your creativity to flow wherever, go with it.
Sometimes, I’ll post a blog and it’ll get 2,000 views in the hour. Sometimes on another, I’ll get 10. I post what I want to post. Allow yourself to be creative. It might just appeal to somebody else.
Ask your audience
It seems simple, but a lot of us are afraid to, I guess ask for help. Communication is key. If you are writing for an audience as opposed to ourselves, which both are perfectly okay!, you have to keep your audience in mind. If you’re writing for the purpose of the audience, there’s no point working hard on a piece that simply doesn’t interest them.
Spark conversation. Build a friendly community. Share ideas. Ask your audience what they are looking for.
Build a community
Some of the kindest and warmest people will be people you meet through your blog. I can tell you the names of most of my followers on Facebook. I can tell you the names of the people who regularly engage with me on Twitter, I know the names of the people who always comment on my Instagram comments. Get to know them.
Don’t be that person who has a small amount of success and starts to think they’re too busy or important to reply to a message or comment. Don’t ever use the excuse that you don’t have time to reply to people and only have time to buffer blog posts on a cycle. If you don’t have the time to say thank you or even reply with an emoji, then you’re going to lose that support very quickly. If you can make time to create a buffer cycle of tweets, you’ve got time to log in to Twitter and say thank you.
To give an insight, I published 200 blog posts in 2018. An aesthetically pleasing number that wasn’t actually planned! I know full well that at least 30 of my followers have read every single blog post. Doesn’t sound a lot? Well, those 30 make up for 6,000 of my views. Let’s not forget that sometimes they click on my blog to make sure that they haven’t missed a post. If they all did that twice a month, that’s nearly another 1,000 views over the course of the year. If you are supportive and kind to your audience, they will be supportive and kind to you. Simple.
The Importance of SEO
When I first started my blog I had no idea that I had to get to know what on earth SEO was or how I could even begin to implement it in my blog. Don’t even get me started on DA [domain authority], because it was all foreign to me.
Alex and I spent a good week when I first started getting my head around things and by no means am I an expert. But, what I’m doing seems to work, so let’s throw away the technical rule book for one minute and just hear me out.
It’s much more complex than scattering a few keywords like glitter and writing “enough” that the word count hits over four digits. It’s not that simple. It’s not about making sure the headers are equally spread and that you have enough H1’s and H2’s and H3’s. It’s not enough to spread your work out into easy digestable chunks. It’s not even about adding the right hashtags and categories. It’s much more than that.
It’s about creating content that isn’t saturated in the internet world. It’s about writing a title that you’re likely to google. It’s about writing as naturally and freely as you can. Computers sure are intelligent. They know when you’re trying to bash the system and jump your way up. Natural content is key.
Some of my best posts are the ones that nobody else has put out there before. One evening, I was bored and created “My Top 5 Disney Quotes in Spanish” just because I thought it was so me. I wanted Disney content on my blog, but I needed to relate it to Spanish. That page one post now pulls in around 600 views a month. It related to my blog, I didn’t spend hours formating. I just created natural, original content.
I still don’t get hold time. I still don’t really know how to increase my DA, other than adding back links, but I don’t care. That’s not why I blog.
Posting each week on a set timetable helped me retain the traffic. People knew when to come back and there was something fresh to read each week. Blogtober and Blogmas helped too. The more I posted in a week, the more views I got.
It pays off to plan ahead, rewriting the same popular blog posts over and over may attract to your audience, or may be what you think you need to put out there because it worked for somebody else, but it’s not necessarily going to attract to a new audience, or show your audience that you’re the real deal. Why go for a replic of something that is already out there?
Try and bring something new to the webspace, or be ahead of the game.
I posted my 2019 Travel Bucket List back in September 2018, it was one of the first blog posts to be added for that topic, so it jumped to page one. That post is currently pulling in around 30 views a day now that people are googling it.
Be a leader not a follower. Hate it or love it – you have to plan.
Don’t Over Do it
Remember, less is more. It’s the same with your blog. I see so many blogs that are just cluttered. Ads popping up, widgets on the side, every time I scroll there’s a hold on one moment, don’t leave the page before you leave your email address, I promise I won’t clog up your emails like I’m doing now!!!! It’s not user friendly. From somebody on the outside, it’s annoying.
When you speak to people, they say blogs don’t have worth and are not user friendly to read. Because, the majority of time, they can’t actually access them.
There are many times when I click onto a blog post and at the side they have a pop up ad that covers the writing or a widget they’ve added that covers a portion of their blog post. What’s the next step? Closing the page.
If it’s unaccessible, people don’t want to spend time on the page. Check your website as an outsider and see how they view it. If you’re unable to read any of the blog posts through a widget or an ad, it needs to go or be modified.
The same with content. I was once told: you’re only as good as the last thing you put out there. If you are not happy with what’s going out. Don’t put it out there. If you’re not convinced that it’s a reflection of your best work, don’t put it out there. Work on it. Make it until you’re happy with it. Make it something you’re proud of.
It helps to ask a friend to go through and read your blog post before you publish it and get them to view your site and give you any pointers. When I first started, I refused to click publish until Alex had read it for spelling mistakes, things that didn’t make sense or just general aesthetic. It always helps to have a separate pair of eyes. Sometimes, we spend so long reading it and we know what we meant to put, but if somebody on the outside can’t follow it, it needs editing.
The thing I hate the most and the thing that I’ve only just recently started doing is adding alt tags. Adding alt text, although a boring job, on photos is incredibly important. Your blog post might not make page one, but your photo certainly could for the same search term in Google images.
Let’s not forget that Google always pushes images near to the top as Google wants a longer retention time too.
Some of my blog posts aren’t page one of websites, but the image is page one of Google images. Some images pull in 20+ views a day. It pays off to spend a little time to add a description about your photo. It all adds value.
Of course, I had to finish on the most important one. Social Media. Before I started blogging, I had a social media following which was a major pull to already having an engaged audience. I already had people messaging me to start a blog. I was part of a group that already had a lot of people asking me questions about life here. I had about 2,000 followers on Twitter [here comes the plugs!] and I already had about 4,000 followers on Instagram. It helped to already have that support from the very beginning.
I’m not sure what else I can say about Social Media other than be active and be present. I’m not one of those who constantly cycles my blog posts around.
I know the rule book tells you to pull blog posts from the archive and intermittently share them. But, truth be told, I hate that. I hate seeing a Twitter timeline of blog posts circling round and round. It just doesn’t feel… social, to me.
I know a lot of people will urge you to invest so much time in Pinterest. But, although I share my blog photos and create pins for Pinterest, I’m never convinced that it actually works for retention. Sure, the odd post might pop from a really successful pin, but it seems a lot of time to invest on a gamble.
If you’re choosing between investing time in hopes to have a pin pop on Pinterest or build and engage with your audience and more people on Twitter and Facebook, then do the latter.
Whenever I have clicked a Pinterest pin to a website, it’s usually as a mistake when I’ve gone to swipe to the next pin and it has opened the site. I then automatically close it and I’m not convinced the same doesn’t happen to me.
I have had pins have 50k impressions and 1000’s of saves on Pinterest, yet when you check the web clicks, there were 15. The chances that those 15 would come back again are very slim.
I have found using Facebook Ads is a great way to boost your following. Once every few months I run a campaign on Facebook, targetting it to people who I think will be interested in my blog. I will run this as either a photo that they’re likely to like, so I can invite them to my Facebook page. Or, a blog post that I think will gain attraction. Spending £4, I can reach around 3,000 people. My last Ad campaign on Facebook pulled in 1700 views to my blog and 200 new Facebook likes, in one day.
If you take anything from this, take this: You are defined by your own limits. Keep working and moving forward. Keep planning. Keep getting inspiration from the world around you. Build a community. Put your voice out there. This is the year you make it happen. This time last year, I didn’t even have a blog. Take this as inspiration that you can do it too.
If you are somebody who has stopped by my blog, or if you’re brand new, thank you. Whether I get 10 views or 10,000 in a month, I am grateful for every one who stops by my little corner on the internet.