Every new blogger starts out at the same place: with a website, a dream and no traffic. Most blog failures occur before a single visitor views the website, so although this can be a time of experimentation, it’s also a time of urgency. Getting over that most difficult hump and drawing in your first visitors through Google can take months, but you can build your readership much more quickly by taking things into your own hands and spreading the word yourself.
Focus on Quality
When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to publish a hundred different posts on bland, keyword-targeted subjects meant to bring in search engine traffic. Unfortunately, if your website is new you are probably doing yourself more harm than good. Google places a certain priority on the age of a website, meaning you’re unlikely to rank highly for any keyword for at least a month. In the meantime, you’ll have a blog that’s dry, boring and clearly commercialized.
Because of this, the first few weeks after a blog goes live should be spent attracting visitors by word of mouth. Many readers hesitate to subscribe to a new blog because so many shut down a month or two after starting up. In order to combat this, your blog needs to be jam-packed with exciting, fresh content that will have others dying to share it. Post regularly, but not so often that you burn yourself out. As time goes on, you’ll settle into the blogging schedule and voice that works for you.
What is good content? Nobody wants to read an encyclopedia entry on every little topic in your niche. If they did, they’d read an encyclopedia. Blogging is a platform for expressing yourself and helping others. Even a business blog will have a personal style and tone to it. Write like you care about the subject, which you should, and are personally interested in it, and readers will pick up on your enthusiasm.
Get Involved in the Community
Once your blog has several good posts ready to share, it’s time to find some readers! The best place to start is on blogs similar to your own. These blogs have readers that are interested in your niche, and bloggers generally encourage discussion and sharing in their comment sections. Leaving your name and URL in a comment will alert readers to your blog’s presence, and you’re sure to get a few curious clicks.
Remember, it’s a lot easier to pick up a bad reputation than it is to earn a good one. Always leave full, relevant responses to blog posts, and take the time to read others. Planting a link is only one benefit of interacting with the community, and getting involved in discussions can help you establish yourself as a dedicated and knowledgeable blogger.
There are other ways to get your blog out there, most notably social media websites. Services such as StumbleUpon can bring sharp spikes of traffic, but are usually poor for driving in a dedicated readership. Twitter, on the other hand, can be a valuable tool if used properly. You may want to start a new account for the blog, or share it on an established Twitter account. Don’t just tweet a URL to your latest posts; instead, spend time responding to tweets and following others. Facebook automatically shares blog updates to interested friends and family, who can in turn share it with their circle of contacts. However, you should focus most of your efforts on targeted readers, which can be difficult to accomplish on a social website like Facebook.
If you write quality content and successfully draw in a small group of returning readers, your blog will be well on its way to success. You can’t expect to have 500 blog visitors in your first month, but with patience and dedication there’s no limit to what you can achieve with nothing more than the internet, a computer and your own wits.
About the author: Sam is a blogger and a contributing writer for Quick Sprout, one of the leading marketing agencies. He takes a particular interest in topics pertaining to social media trends and SEO techniques.