Have you ever felt like your blog’s audience wasn’t growing fast enough?
You’re not alone.
Every blogger has had that feeling.
So what can you do to make it happen?
It all starts with a strategy focused on putting your visitors first and I’m going to show you exactly how.
But, there’s another hurdle to this audience growth thing.
And that is ensuring that those readers keep coming back to your blog in the future.
So in today’s post, you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to grow your audience faster as well as how you can make sure that your readers keep coming back.
Let’s dive in and get started!
This post is packed with lots of detail, so to make it easier to navigate, I’ve added quick links which you can use to instantly navigate to a particular section of the post:
How to grow your blog’s audience faster:
- Start networking with other bloggers on a regular basis
- Contribute to the top blog’s in your niche
- Create your own tribe on Triberr and invite other bloggers
- Publish content your target audience wants to read
- Encourage social sharing with these tactics
- Make promotion part of your blogging process (and here’s how to do it)
How to keep your audience coming back for more:
- Tidy up your blog’s user experience
- Encourage your audience to subscribe to your email list
- Ask your audience to join you on social networks
- Make RSS subscription easy (it’s not dead yet)
- Engage with your audience
How to grow your blog’s audience faster
In order to get people on your blog, you need to expand your reach.
This ultimately means driving as much targeted traffic to your blog as possible.
I’ve talked about traffic generation tactics in the past, but which of those tactics can really move the needle and accelerate your blog’s growth?
1. Start networking with other bloggers on a regular basis
As the saying goes:
“It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know.”
… The same can be said about blogging.
When you start networking, you’ll notice you get more traffic, shares and engagement on your blog.
And once you’ve developed strong relationships with other bloggers, that’s when you can figure out other ways of helping each other.
But, remember – there has to be mutual benefit.
So how can you start getting to know other bloggers in your niche?
- Engage with other bloggers on social networks – This can include sharing other people’s content and responding to them in comments of status updates.
- Leave helpful comments on other blogs – This is best done on personal blogs where the owner responds to comments. This is a sure-fire way to get noticed providing you leave anything promotional out of your comments and focus on leaving helpful comments.
- Become part of a thriving community in your niche – Online communities are a great way to connect with other bloggers. From Sub-Reddit’s to Facebook Groups and forums, there’s plenty to choose from.
2. Contribute to the top blogs in your niche
If you want to grow your audience, contributing guest posts to top blogs in your niche will be extremely effective.
But, in order to get results that will truly move the needle, there is a specific approach you need to take.
Here’s how you should approach guest blogging:
- Identify blogs in your niche with an engaged audience – If you’re contributing to a blog with no following and no engagement, you’re not going to get much in the way of results. Social shares and comments are good benchmarks to look at.
- Connect with the owner of the blog before pitching them – This is essential. We talked about getting to know bloggers earlier; the exact same steps apply here. Get to know the blogger before and it’s more likely that your pitch will be successful.
- Make your pitch about the blogger and how you’ll help them – Most bloggers receive a crazy amount of pitches from guest bloggers. Read this post to find out how to write the perfect email pitch.
- Don’t hold back when it comes to writing content – I can understand that you may want to keep your best content to publish on your own blog, but if you really want to reap the rewards of guest blogging, go all out!
- Build an email list using your guest posts – Just guest blogging on its own will help you create awareness about you and your blog, but you can also build your email list. It’s as straight forward as linking to a page with an opt-in form from your author bio. For specific steps, check out this post by Sue Anne Dunlevie. We’ll also talk more about building an email list later in this post.
- Promote your post like you’d promote one on your own blog – The more effectively you promote your guest post, the better. The blogger you’ve written the post for will appreciate it and likely be open to you contributing in the future.
- Respond to comments even if the blog owner doesn’t – Responding to people who leave comments is a great way to get noticed and increase engagement later on.
3. Create your own tribe on Triberr and invite other bloggers
Triberr is a social platform that makes it easy to share each other’s content. It can be a great way to increase your reach, network with other bloggers and grow your audience.
On Triberr, you’ll find tribes of bloggers under a wide variety of topics.
You can apply to join tribes as a follower and in those cases you’ll get updates from that tribe within your “tribal feed” (pictured above).
The chief of a tribe can then promote you to a full member, your blog posts will be seen by everyone else in your tribe, providing you’ve added your RSS feed to your settings page.
One great way to get started on Triberr is to create your own themed tribes – you’ll then be able to find other active bloggers who write about the same topic.
To do this, you’ll need to sign up for an account, click on the “tribes” tab at the top, then click the “new tribe” button.
4. Publish content your target audience wants to read
When you publish the right content for your target audience, you’ll grow your readership faster.
And when you publish the right content consistently, those readers will stick around.
Before you can dive into specific steps here, you’ll need to figure out exactly who your target audience is (and how you’re going to help them).
Once you’ve got that figured out, you can use a combination of these tips to narrow down which topics to write about:
- Monitor trends and write newsworthy content – Spotting emerging trends and writing about them is a great way to get visibility and stay on top of what’s happening right now. This post by Ann Smarty covers the process in more detail.
- Monitor important topics with Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts – Both of these tools are free and can give you a heads up the next time someone writes about topics you cover on your blog. This can be a great way of spotting trends before they happen and getting an insight into what others write about within your niche.
- Find popular content using BuzzSumo – Which topics are getting the most traction on social networks? And which topics are working well for your competitors? BuzzSumo is a paid tool but you can still get some helpful data for free.
- Use SEMrush to find out what keywords your competitors are ranking for – SEMrush can show you some of the keywords your competitors rank for and give you rough traffic estimations. It’s a paid tool, but you can still get some good data for free.
Whichever topics you cover, keep your audience at the heart of your content and focus on solving their problems.
Headlines also play a big part of this, this post by Elna Cain covers some tools which can help you come up with headlines and optimize them – just don’t forget the human element.
5. Encourage social sharing with these tactics
When you get more social shares, chances are that you’ll get more traffic.
Chances are that for each new person that shares your content, even more new readers will find their way to your blog.
But, what can you do to encourage people to share your content?
Make it easy to share your content via social networks
Before we can start encouraging social shares, we need to make it easy for people to share.
This is straight forward – add social share buttons to your blog.
I currently use a WordPress plugin called Social Snap for this (it also helps with a tactic I’ll talk about in a moment).
One thing I particularly like about this plugin is that you can add a unique image that will just be used when your content is shared on Pinterest. This is great because taller images work better on Pinterest.
But, there are plenty of other tools and plugins you can use to add share buttons, this post covers some alternatives.
Limit the number of share buttons
I used to add social share buttons for almost every network imaginable.
In time I learned that most social shares were happening across a small number of networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc).
So most share buttons I had weren’t being used, it was pointless them being there.
But, there was another problem…
The more options you give someone, the less likely they are to take any action at all.
For example, when you sit down to read a menu at a restaurant and find yourself struggling to make a choice because there are so many items on the menu.
The bottom line is this:
Limit the number of share buttons, but always consider prioritizing the social networks that your audience is most active on.
Hide share counts if you don’t get many social shares
Share counts are great but only if you get a lot of shares.
This is because of a concept called social proof – when people see that a lot of others have taken a certain action, it gives the impression that it’s the correct action.
The problem is that there is both positive and negative social proof.
So, if you aren’t getting many social shares, disable any share counts to avoid any negative social proof.
When your social shares are increasing (and they will!), it’ll be time to add share counts back.
Add “click to tweet” boxes within your content
Whether you want to add a short quote, a tip or a statement to your blog posts, click to tweet boxes are a great way to do it.
You could also add a click to tweet box just after the intro of your blog posts, using the post title or a description of the post like I’ve done above.
I mentioned the Social Snap plugin above, it also makes it easy to add click to tweet boxes.
Adding this is very straight forward, here’s an example of how it looks:
Social Snap is a paid plugin, but there are a few alternatives which are completely free:
- ClickToTweet.com – This tool allows you to create a tweet and gives you a link, allowing you to add that link anywhere you like. The downside is that you don’t get the eye-catching tweet boxes. But, you could potentially use this within PDF’s and other media. You don’t need WordPress for this.
- Better Click To Tweet – This WordPress plugin comes with some handy features. It’s fully customizable if you know CSS and most importantly, it makes it easy for you to add click to tweet boxes.
Add images sharing to give your social share a boost
People love to share visuals, so this is a great opportunity to take advantage of.
Sure, a lot of people use browser extensions that make it easier to share to Pinterest, but not everyone does.
6. Make promotion part of your blogging process (and here’s how to do it)
There’s a lot more to promoting a blog post than publishing it to your social media accounts.
When I first started blogging, I’d share to a few social networks and that was as far as it went.
Then I found other promotional tactics and used those every so often, but I found it difficult to be consistent. Most of the other tactics would get missed out after a while.
Aside from my poor memory, the reason why this happened was that I didn’t have a documented process for promoting each post.
Ever since I created my first blog promo checklist, I’ve driven more traffic to my content and saved loads of time that would have previously been spent trying to figure out where to promote each post.
It’s time to create your own blog post promo checklist
The exact tactics you include in yours may vary; after all, every niche is different.
All you need is a spreadsheet to get started.
You’ll need some basic information first for each post (it speeds up the process):
- Post description
- Post excerpt
- Shortened URL
- Twitter handles and/or emails of anyone mentioned in your post
Then you can add some basic promotion tactics:
- Email to your subscribers
- Share to your social networks
- Share to popular social bookmarking sites
- Share to niche social bookmarking sites
- Let people whom you’ve mentioned know
Now that you’ve got all of the basics covered, you need to flesh out the checklist with other tactics you can use and sites that you can leverage to promote your content.
These will be dependent on how much time you want to spend promoting your content (the more, the better) and on your niche.
The web is full of specific posts on this topic, but these two posts are a good starting point:
- How To Promote Your Blog: The Complete Beginner’s Guide
- 32 Smart Ways To Drive More Traffic To Your Blog
Once your checklist is complete, you can keep an eye on your analytics to see how well it’s paying off.
You may want to swap out certain tactics, but remember that if a tactic doesn’t work the first time, it doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.
It means that you might need to try a different approach.
How to keep your audience coming back for more
We’ve covered some effective steps to accelerate the growth of your blog’s audience, now it’s time to ensure they keep coming back.
1. Tidy up your blog’s user experience
Our goal should always be to simplify the experience on our blog’s as much as possible.
Every element on our blog must have a purpose, if it’s of no help to anyone – it probably shouldn’t be there.
Here are a few things to look at when you get started:
- Make it clear who your blog is for and how your blog will help them – Your about page is a great page for this. Just answer this phrase: My blog helps ___ to __________. You could use this to create a catchy headline for your homepage and descriptions for your social media accounts.
- Trim down navigation menu items – I like to keep my main navigation simple and focused. There are always other pages that need to be visible somewhere; I put those in my footer.
- Remove unnecessary clutter – Is there anything you can remove? Maybe from your sidebar or your footer? Maybe you’re displaying ads which aren’t performing or you’re displaying a badge which has no purpose. Consider removing anything that doesn’t have a purpose.
One more aspect of your blog to improve
Aside from all of the tweaks you can make to how your blog looks, there’s one more important consideration…
… Page loading times.
This is super important, not just for users but also for search engines (page loading times are part of Google’s Algorithm).
There are a lot of ways you can improve load times, but this guide from WPMU Dev covers everything you need to know.
Another thing to consider is your web host.
I use WPX Hosting, it’s more expensive than a lot of other web hosts (pricing starts at $24.99/month) but load times are good and support is insanely quick.
If you can justify the cost of upgrading to a fast web host, it’s well worth doing.
But, there’s another alternative – using a CDN.
CDN stands for content delivery network.
For most web hosts, the further someone is from the physical location of your server, the slower pages will load for them.
CDN’s deliver your content via a global network of servers, so someone trying to access your blog will be served files from a server that’s much closer to them, and so page load times increase.
2. Encourage your audience to subscribe to your email list
Building an email list is one of the best things you can do to keep people coming back to your blog.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Use an email provider instead of a feed delivery service – Using an email provider like MailChimp means you can send out emails to your subscribers whenever you like and you get much more control over how emails look. You also get better analytics and can create sequences of emails that new subscribers will receive, otherwise known as auto responders. Be sure to check out my comparison of popular email marketing services.
- Offer something for free in exchange for email addresses – Your audience has a problem and your goal is to solve it so this is a great opportunity to put together a free resource for your readers. It could be a checklist, guide, template or even a tool.
- Make it easy for people to subscribe – Give your audience plenty of opportunities to subscribe. This means adding opt-in forms to strategic locations. WordPress plugins like Thrive Leads are super effective. This post covers Thrive Leads in more depth, and provides some alternatives.
Start utilizing landing pages for massive conversions
I want to talk about this tip in a bit more depth, because most bloggers don’t use landing pages.
A landing page is a page with one goal – to convert.
For our purposes, the conversion goal will be to get people to sign up to our email list.
Why are these pages so great?
… They have no navigation or other distractions, so they convert like crazy.
With targeted traffic and a well optimized page, it’s not unheard of to get over 50% conversions.
Here’s one of my landing pages which currently converts at around 50%:
There are free tools that can help you here, but most end up costing more than Thrive in the long run because of having to purchase add-ons etc.
How to leverage landing pages
Once you’ve created your own landing page, you can start driving traffic to it.
You could use social media updates for this, but the best tactic I’ve ever used for this has been guest blogging (we discussed this earlier).
Just include a link to your landing page in your author bio and you’re ready to go.
This will make it easy for anyone who reads your guest post to subscribe to your email list but it requires that you guest post on blogs with very engaged audiences – social shares and comments are a good benchmark to look at.
You could also experiment with paid traffic, because after all, guest blogging isn’t really free – you’re paying with time.
Whichever tactics you use to drive traffic to your landing pages, be sure to experiment and test new things.
Identify a tweak you can make which may improve conversions and run a split test. This is easy if you use Leadpages, if you use a WordPress plugin or tool which doesn’t have split testing you could use Google Optimize (it’s free).
Take your list building efforts a step further
Just by using a few of these tips, you’ll start to grow your email list faster than before.
For further reading on list building, check out my ultimate guide – it covers 36 tips to help you build your email list faster.
3. Ask your audience to join you on social networks
Considering the sub-heading above, the following may sound odd but bear with me:
It’s important to mention that your email list will be far more successful at bringing your readers back to your site than social media.
That’s a fact.
When someone clicks on your social profile, it’s far too easy for them to spot something else and not return.
I’m not saying social media is a waste of time, because it isn’t.
What I am saying is that you should prioritize list building via your blog over building your social networks via your blog (at least on the surface).
For example, my opt-in form is at the top of my sidebar, but links to my social profiles are in my footer:
This ensures that while they aren’t distracting people away from my opt-in form, my social profiles are still accessible.
The key here is to introduce your social networks once people have signed up to your email list.
Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Add a follow button to your confirmation page – When someone confirms their subscription to your email list, they’ll be sent to a confirmation page. This is a great opportunity to add a Facebook Like box, Twitter follow button or something else.
- Invite your subscribers within a welcome email – When new subscribers join your list, they should get a welcome email telling them what to expect from you. With MailChimp you can send a “final welcome email” using a free account which does the job, for other email providers you may have to add this manually using their auto responder feature. This is as simple as asking them to join you on your favorite social network.
- Create a special email for your auto responder sequence – Most email providers have the option to create an auto responder sequence. Similar to the welcome email, you could add another email later which encourages subscribers to follow your social profiles. How you introduce this is up to you, you could use a “getting to know you” type email or just add it to the next email in your sequence.
4. Make RSS subscription easy (it’s not dead yet)
RSS is sometimes referred to Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary.
It’s just a file which makes it easy to syndicate content.
Why is this important?
A lot of people use feed readers like Feedly and Netvibes to subscribe to their favorite blogs.
Some say that RSS is dead, but people still use it. It’s not as popular as it was but it’s still worth taking advantage of.
All you need to do here is make it easy to find your RSS feed URL.
WordPress creates this automatically for you, so yours would be:
Most feed readers will automatically find your RSS feed URL by default, but it’s still good to make this URL available.
I do this with a social media widget in my blog’s footer; it includes my social profile links too.
If you use WordPress, there are plenty of free plugins available which can help. Social Icons Widget is one such plugin.
5. Engage with your audience
If you want your readers to keep coming back, you need to engage with them.
Once you start engaging with your readers you’ll help to foster a stronger community surrounding your blog.
So how can you get started?
- Be accessible – Being unreachable is something often done in business, but it shouldn’t be done with a blog, even if your blog is a business. Make yourself available, starting with adding a contact page for anyone wanting to get in touch. And always avoid sending emails to your subscribers from a “noreply” style email.
- Respond to your readers – The more readers you have, the more difficult this is but it’s important to do. Whether through commenting or emails, responding to your readers needs to be done.
- Involve readers in your content – This can have a huge impact. Brian Dean is a great example of someone who does this right. He publishes case studies about readers who have used his marketing strategies.
These are just a few ways you can get started, but there are likely a lot more.
Sure, it can be time consuming but you’ll become closer to your readers, create a stronger community and make a lasting impact.
Over to you
Now you’ve got plenty of tactics you can use to grow your audience and some others you can use to keep your audience coming back for more of your content.
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