Starting your first blog: How to get visitors

Getting visitors is one of the most difficult aspects of starting a new blog. I struggled with this myself when I started this blog about a year ago, which was my first attempt at informal writing. I would like to share some tips based on the experience I’ve had in starting this blog, in the form of steps you can take to get a steady stream of visitors.

Before getting into it, I should disclose that these tips are based solely on my experience as a relatively inexperienced amateur blogger. I am definitely blogging in a niche area, and often I blog about whatever I find interesting at the time, as opposed to having a well defined topic area. When I started blogging I read loads of articles on how to attract visitors, but often found it hard to relate to these articles since they were written by ‘professional’ bloggers. That is, bloggers that have loads of experience, and have probably long forgotten what it was like to start a new blog from complete obscurity. With that it mind, I thought it might be useful to share my experience while it is still fresh in my mind, so here are some quick tips from an amateur blogger:

1) Start with high quality content

Writing is a process. You will almost never get a post or an article right on the first try, and nor should you strive to do that. It is always good to review what you have written, and to revise and polish it until you have reached an acceptable level of quality. Ideally, you should get somebody else to read it for you, since a second pair of eyes could help you to identify problem that you might miss on your own. This might not always be possible though, which might mean you just need to take some extra time to look for mistakes in your own work. Most importantly, try to get rid of typos and spelling errors. It doesn’t really matter what your topic or style is, nobody will be interested in reading something if it seems like it was written carelessly.

On average, I probably sit down in front of my computer three times to work on a post. The first time I will start by writing down some general ideas, the second sitting will involve developing these ideas into a post, and the final session I will spend on refining the post and trying to eliminate any mistakes in terms of format, structure, argument, spelling etc. The time spent will of course vary depending on the post and your experience as a writer.

2) Don’t be afraid of the publish button…

…but don’t press it too soon either. I can’t stress the first point enough, you really should try to avoid publishing posts with glaring mistakes in them. However, don’t be a perfectionist about it. Realize that there is no such thing as a perfect piece of writing, and be sure to publish what you have written once you are happy with the quality. WordPress is a great platform to use for blogging, primarily because it has a very simple user interface and makes it easier for you to focus on creating content rather than struggling with web design. Also, you can set up WordPress to send you reminders to ensure that you are publishing at regular intervals. More posts generally means more visitors for your blog.

3) Market your blog

I blog mostly anonymously, since my professional life very often has nothing to do with what I blog about. This creates an added challenge, because one of the easiest ways to direct traffic to your blog is to post links to it on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and so on. If you already have followers/friends/connections somewhere else, directing people from that platform to your blog could provide a quick kickstart to your blog, assuming that your circle of connections would be interested in what you are blogging about.

4) Optimize your blog for search engines.

Even if you are directing traffic to your blog from social media platforms, you will still need to optimize the site to make it easier for people to find via online search engines. If you are blogging anonymously, and do not have other means of directing traffic to your blog, this step is absolutely essential. There are lots of long, complicated ways of doing this, but the first step is to register your blog on Google Webmaster Tools. This will allow you to request that Googlebot crawls your site, which will allow people to find your blog using the Google search engine. There are loads of ways of further optimizing your site for search engines, and it is definitely worth doing some research on this.

5) Be patient and persistent

The easiest way to fail at something is to not try at all, or to give up too quickly. One thing that you need to realize before starting is that without external means to drive traffic to your blog, it will take time for you to attract a steady stream of visitors. This means that you might write and post several high quality articles, and still no one is visiting your blog. Give it time, keep optimizing your site, and keep on posting. Eventually your blog traffic will rise, and all of those old posts that nobody read will now form part of all the content you have created that people can potentially access.

6) Try to do something that nobody else is doing

Modern technology means that now anybody can be a publisher, which can be a good and a bad thing. On the plus side, the only thing you need to start a blog is a computer with an internet connection. On the downside, the same is true for everybody else.

Think of the the time before online publishing became ubiquitous as everyone standing around with the ability to talk to each other, but you couldn’t reach more than a few people with your views, opinions, etc. However, if someone were to hand you a megaphone (or, you know, a publishing contract), you could easily reach a whole crowd of people with your message. In the modern world of online publishing, everybody has a megaphone, and everybody is shouting over one another. The question is: How will you differentiate yourself from everyone else?

If you have identified a niche area that you want to blog on, go for it, because if you are interested in writing about it chances are that someone out there is interested in reading about it. It could be something small and specific, aimed at a particular audience. I probably haven’t quite found my niche yet, but even so I can tell you that I have seen a gradual and stable increase in my blog traffic since I started. As with many things in life, it gets more rewarding the longer you do it, and you can only get better with practice.

Blogging

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