The short answer, of course, is to keep offering great content. Fresh content. Content you find valuable. Content you believe may be of interest or value to your readers.
But here's something you might find surprising…
I don't use my blog as a business model like some A-list bloggers out there. Making money is purely a byproduct. Sure, I do have ads on it, interspersed throughout, linking either to my products or to products I'm an affiliate of. But they are not focal points.
Granted, those ads do help to pay the bills, keep my blog alive, and incentivize me to continue posting what I hope is valuable content for my readers.
But some people wonder how I drive traffic to this blog and build my list of subscribers. After all, I don't advertise it at all with any paid advertising — other than in my signature file on some forum posts, or on my social network profiles like Twitter and Facebook.
I've revealed part of my strategy in some courses, such as Success Chef University, which is our flagship training product. I've also revealed it in a few interviews I gave here and there. I've also revealed a handful of them on this blog in the past.
However, there are very specific things I do to help me grow this blog.
There are five major components to my process. It's nothing extraordinary, and it's certainly not exhaustive. I do carry out a few extra things on occasion, and I also love to test new processes and plugins I come across. I sometimes reveal them occasionally.
However, in here I'm going to list five strategies I use regularly, which I have found to be the most effective. Anyone can implement these five tips quickly and easily.
1. Post Once a Week
On average, I post one new article or blog entry a week. Some people — especially top bloggers — will say it's not enough. And that might be true. I've seen a jump in traffic and subscribers when I post more frequently. But I'm too busy, and this works for me.
Consistency, I believe, is more important that frequency.
My inspiration often comes from just normal, everyday activities. For example, I'll post articles based on a current trend, something that happened to me, or something I've read about or written somewhere on the Internet. Whether it's…
- a forum post or reply I've written,
- a blog comment I've made,
- an answer I gave to a coaching student,
- some hot topic I feel strongly about,
- an insightful conversation on a social network,
- an idea from a recent event in my own life,
- or a series of tips people ask me about (this post is an example)…
… I then pull one of them, and convert it into a blog post or write one based on it.
Here's what I do: since some articles are pulled from posts or comments I've made on other blogs, on forums, or via email to my coaching students, they may be incomplete or hard to understand when there's not enough context.
Sometimes, they are good-to-go as is. But other times, I have a freelance writer who monitors my posts, and slightly rewrites them to make them blog-worthy or article-ready.
She fine-tunes my articles by adding historical information, context, and/or universality. The company I use and recommend is Annette Elton's AllCustomContent.com.
2. Hire a Publicist
I have a freelance publicist who monitors my blog. When I post entries tagged within the “articles” category, she pulls them and submits them to thousands of editors, directories, ezine publishers, other blogs looking for content, and even offline magazines.
Offering the ability to freely reprint, syndicate, or distribute your content is quite effective. Some can be reprinted or submitted as is, while others need to be slightly modified as to make them unique, evergreen, or relevant to the target publication's readership.
(That's where my freelancer writer comes in handy, too.)
In fact, I'm still amazed by how often I see my articles reprinted in some offline magazines or popular email newsletters — even articles I've written over a decade ago.
That's why, at the end of each of my blog posts, I have an “about the author” byline, along with a note that lets others reprint my articles — as long as I'm credited with the authorship, and the content and links are left intact.
Nevertheless, you should definitely submit your articles for reprint. You can certainly do this yourself, but hiring a publicist to do this for you can save you a lot of time. Plus, many publicists will have industry contacts you may not know or have otherwise.
3. Maximize Your “Real Estate”
Every piece of real estate on your blog should be optimized for building your list.
Sure, you can have an optin form at the top, on your sidebar, and at the bottom. But don't forget your 404 page, your landing pages (like your “about me” page, “contact us” page, your “FAQ” page if any, etc), and other non-blog sections.
Make sure you also add one at the end of your individual blog posts. What I do is use Robert Plank's Action Popup and Action Comments scripts. The former creates a lightbox-like popup when visitors hit your blog, and the latter adds an extra checkbox near your comment form asking people to join your list as they comment.
Also, don't be shy to highlight somewhere on your blog how many people have joined your list or subscribed to your RSS feed. Similarly, another thing that's important is to highlight the number of comments your blog post gets.
You've probably seen this. I do this on the front page of this blog with the big, yellow “[number] comments” box. The reason is, it provides social proof. When a post gets a lot of comments, it tends to arouse curiosity and engender more comments.
It's a snowball effect, really. The more people are on my list, the more want to join. And the moment a blog post hits 10 comments, it often explodes in interest from that point on.
4. Prepopulate Your Autoresponder
This is my best tip. Take note because it's the one I'm most often asked about.
Ostensibly, I manage my optin lists with an autoresponder. This allows me to both broadcoast one-off emails to my list, such as an email to notify my subscribers when I post a new entry, as well as populate them with messages delivered over time.
I have a spreadsheet of all my blog posts. I pull out the staple posts (i.e., posts that are evergreen, or posts that may not be evergreen but can be updated to become so).
Each week, I visit one, update it (whether it's to fix a broken link, add a new or key piece of information, or rewrite to reflect current issues or trends), do an email broadcast about the update, and add it to my autoresponder cycle for this blog.
My autoresponder has several months worth of these “blog updates,” which keeps driving traffic back to my blog without lifting a finger. As well, interspersed throughout are messages pointing to resources — my products or products of which I'm an affiliate.
I tend to alternate them equally, or hinge slightly more in favor of messages with or linking to content. Because I try to avoid sending just pitch after pitch to my list, I prefer to send them a higher ratio of content over promotions.
(However, many of my resources are not blatant promotions. They are often relevant and tied to a blog post, or one mentioned in a previous post I made.)
Ultimately, when I post a new article to my blog, I add it to my spreadsheet. I do a broadcast to notify my readers that a new post was made, and, if appropriate, I tag it as an evergreen article. I then add it at the end of my autoresponder cycle.
This way, people who are currently on my list will see the new blog post or article the moment I post it, but future subscribers will eventually get to the same article as well.
This is a great way to recycle the content on your blog without any extra effort. Look at your blog right now: does it have any evergreen articles you can easily add to your blog's autoresponder? How about posts you can slightly modify to make them current?
If so, you're sitting on a goldmine.
5. Don't Date Your Posts
In conjunction with the above tip, another important point is to not have dates on your posts. I know some bloggers won't agree with me, because they say that dates help inform readers how fresh and timely a certain post is.
Plus, some people have told me that dating posts also provide some search-engine optimization, although I've tested this personally and don't see much of a difference.
Nevertheless, always make your post's URL be your domain and the post's title only. Called “pretty permanlinks” or “vanity links,” refrain from having your blog post's URL show any dates. Just leave them as “domain.com/post-title/.”
Plus, don't add the post's date near the headline or the beginning.
Sure, you can have the date at the bottom, or have posts listed chronologically in the archives. But with evergreen or staple posts, dates are unimportant and can even make them look less relevant and deter readers, even though they are still relevant.
When someone sees an older post, which may still be 100% relevant and timely, they may believe it's outdated and be tempted to ignore it.
While it might be true that people prefer fresh, current information in the context of people bookmarking or visiting your blog for the first time, for your autoresponder cycle, which brings subscribers back to those evergreen blog posts, dates are irrelevant.
Nevertheless, I hope these five tips are helpful to you, and please let me know of any you use that you find to be useful in your blog. I'd love to hear them.