You start a blog, create great content and wait for the floods of visitors that will soon become part of your community.
There’s a trickle, but nothing like you expected.
I experienced the same thing and there were times when I thought I was never going to get the traffic that I was hoping for.
Then everything changed.
I found the right combination of tactics and the all-important tools that helped me use those tactics to rapidly accelerate my blog’s growth.
In this post I’m going to show you some incredibly effective tools that you can use to do the same thing for your blog – most of them are free.
Are you ready to accelerate your blog’s growth?
Let’s get started!
1. Identify influencers and top performing content with BuzzSumo
If you’re serious about growing your blog, you need to do up front research to pave the way for rapid growth.
It’s essential to answer two questions early on:
- Who are the people that influence my target audience?
- What content is performing best for my competitors and other blogs in my niche?
With BuzzSumo you can easily find answers to both of these questions. No dipping and diving between different platforms, just type in research terms and you’ll have answers in minutes.
The results are limited on the free version but the data it gives can still prove incredibly insightful.
Price: Starts from free, unlock additional features from $99/month
2. Improve your headlines with CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer
I’ve been using the EMV Headline Analyzer to help me write better headlines but there was always a limit to how much you could get out of it.
Then the CoSchedule team put together a new headline analyzer that took things to the next level.
Instead of just getting a simple score and type of emotion, this tool goes into:
- Word balance
- Headline type
- Previews in search and email subject lines
- And more
There’s also links to helpful articles that explains each section in depth and how you can use it to write better headlines.
3. Organize your content and promote it with CoSchedule
It’s important to keep your content organized and having an editorial calendar is the best way to do that.
There are WordPress plugins which are free that you can use for an editorial calendar but nothing I’ve tried so far comes close to CoSchedule.
But how can an editorial calendar help you grow your blog?
The truth is that most can’t, but that’s what makes CoSchedule unique – it has built-in social sharing functionality.
You can use it as an app or from within WordPress.
So for example, if you’re about to schedule a post to be published next week, you can schedule social messages to be shared on unlimited accounts at the time you want them to be published.
The timing is focused around how many days, weeks or months after a post is published, you can then specify a time frame or select to add the post to your Buffer account (yes, Buffer integration!)
What about if you move a scheduled post to another date? All social messages move with it – such a time saver!
You can even drag and drop any of your social messages or posts from within the calendar view (via WordPress or the web app).
You can monitor your social shares and also access the “top posts” section, allowing you to find your most shared posts and you can filter by date/author.
This is perfect for highlighting which of your content is performing best; you can then schedule more social shares directly using the share post button on the right-hand side.
Price: $15/month (paid annually) per WordPress blog
4. Improve your content with Atomic Reach
Getting traffic is one thing, but you need to ensure your audience is returning to your site.
A great way to do this is by making sure your content is written in a way that will resonate with your readers.
Atomic Reach is a great tool that uses content scoring to help you take your content to the next level.
While it’s a paid tool, you can use the web app version of Atomic Reach for free. Just enter your title and post content, then hit the score button.
You’ll quickly get some actionable tips to improve readability, grammar, emotion in your writing, structure and more.
Price: Web app is free and plans using the complete platform start at $9.99/month
5. Use Ninja Outreach to find influencers and manage the outreach process
Blogger outreach is one of the most effective tactics you can use to grow your blog.
The great thing is that there are so many ways to use this, right from pitching a guest post or inviting an influencer to take part in an interview.
The problem is that it’s difficult to keep track of after a while. You can manage it with spreadsheets but the truth is they aren’t really designed for it.
You need a tool to manage each stage of the outreach process, right from research to contacting other bloggers.
This is where Ninja Outreach comes in; it’s a new tool that makes every stage of outreach easier.
I particularly like that it pulls in a lot of engagement metrics, not just typical SEO metrics.
At the time of writing this post, it’s only just out of beta so we should see some great feature enhancements.
Price: Starts from $19/month
Note: If you want to find out how to write better outreach emails, read this post.
6. Create eye-catching visuals with Canva
If you want your blog to stand out, you need to focus more on visual content to enhance your blog posts.
It used to be that you would have to buy software like Photoshop and spend a long time learning how to use it if you wanted to create better visuals.
But now you don’t have to, thanks to free tools like Canva.
Canva is extremely easy to use, just pick a template or enter custom dimensions and you can start creating your own images right away.
Any of the existing design templates come with a variety of ready-made layouts for you to customize – these are great for inspiration.
There are plenty of icons, backgrounds and images that come with Canva to help you create awesome visuals.
Price: Free with option to buy cheap stock images within the platform ($1 each)
7. Find interview opportunities using MyBlogU
To create a popular blog you need to focus on growing your audience and becoming more visible in your niche, making yourself available to be interviewed or contribute to group interviews is a great way to do this.
The problem is that it’s difficult to find these opportunities when you first get started.
That’s where MyBlogU comes in; it’s a great community of bloggers where you can easily find interview opportunities.
You can also list your own interviews/group interviews and invite other bloggers to contribute; this is another way to grow your audience.
When someone contributes to a piece of content, they’re already invested in it and they’re far more likely to share it with their audience. And it’s a great tool to help you network.
8. Get cheap, relevant and engaged traffic using Outbrain
Have you ever seen those recommended links at the bottom of articles on sites like CNN, Slate and Fast Company etc?
You can get your articles displayed in those recommended links – it’s one of the cheapest ways to get paid traffic that’s relevant and engaged.
Using tools like Outbrain you can import your posts, select how much you’re willing to pay per click and wait till the traffic starts pouring in.
The more you pay per click, the faster you’ll get the traffic but I have managed to get clicks as low as $0.05 – that’s incredible when you compare it to other paid traffic like StumbleUpon and Google AdWords etc.
The price will likely vary slightly depending on your niche and it depends on how enticing your headline is. And the more enticing, the better but deliver the promise your headline makes.
Price: Clicks as cheap as $0.05, minimum $10 budget
9. Build your following using your email signature with WiseStamp
If you use email a lot and don’t have a signature, you could be missing a great opportunity to build your following.
In the past I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to design my own email signatures and usually ended up not using them at all.
The truth is that in that time I’ve conversed with 100s, maybe 1,000s of people in that time and I could have been using those emails to drive traffic to my content and social networks.
With WiseStamp you can quickly put together your own smartly designed and well-optimized email signature.
You can use it to share important information about yourself, links to social profiles, your latest posts via an RSS feed and so much more.
It connects directly to the likes of Gmail or you can copy and paste your signatures into clients like Outlook.
There are plenty more widgets you can use as well, for example:
- Custom HTML
- QR vCard
- Random quotes
- Latest tweets
- And much more
Price: Free with branding or $4/month billed annually to remove branding and unlock full features
10. Expand your reach and network with other bloggers using Triberr
You need to network with other bloggers. One of my favorite tools for this is Triberr, a social networking platform for bloggers; we could also call it the “reach multiplier” because that’s exactly what it can do for your blog.
You can use it to network with other bloggers, find awesome content to share and get more eye-balls on your own content at the same time.
It all starts with tribes:
- Add your blog and RSS feed
- Find a relevant tribe
- Share their content
- Ask to be promoted to a full member so other members will see your content in their tribal stream
You can create your own tribe too and invite other bloggers in your niche to join up.
Triberr works on the reciprocity principle – you share my stuff and I’ll share yours. Don’t feel that you have to share everything though, share what will vibe with your audience.
Price: Free but paid plans are available for extra awesomeness
11. Effectively manage and measure your social media campaigns with Oktopost
If you want to ensure that you’re getting results from your social media efforts, the first step is measuring your progress. But, the problem with most social tools is that they only allow you to view individual tweets which is a limitation.
This is where Oktopost comes in; it allows you to distribute your social messages and groups them into campaigns to get a better understanding of how well your social efforts are paying off.
You can also respond to your followers, curate content and there’s support for social groups (LinkedIn and Facebook).
Price: Not given, demo required.
Update: When I first published this post, Oktopost’s pricing started at $49.99/month. They’ve since changed their pricing structure – from what I’m told, plans now start at upwards of $500 and are aimed at larger companies now. Given this change, I’d recommend seeking an alternative platform.
12. Easily schedule social messages using Buffer
Sometimes you just need a tool to help you schedule social messages, Buffer is perfect for this; it’s one of the easiest scheduling tools that I’ve found so far.
The way it works is you pick a schedule for your social updates, so you might want 5 updates to be shared to your Twitter every day (you can specify times).
You then just load content into your Buffer account and it will publish the next update in accordance with your schedule.
You can schedule your updates from within the platform or you can install the Chrome extension and share directly from your content (or other people’s content).
Price: Starts from free
Over to you
It’s time to start growing your audience, there’s a lot of tools in this list so go on and see how much of a difference they can make for your blog.
Related reading: 8 Great Page Builder Plugins For WordPress: Design Made Easy.
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