I hit a big milestone recently on my travel blog, Where’s Sharon – I hit…
Regular readers will know that did this not come easy. I have worked hard on this blog. I have not, however, worked directly on increasing page views as such. My focus has been firmly on monetisation for the past 6 months and for the 6 months before that, I wasn’t even working on building up this site. One of the benefits of a solid monetisation strategy and starting a blog from a solid foundation is page views that should increase on their own.
Early on in my blogging journey, I published an article about how I increased my page views from 0 to 12,000 in 3 months here in response to a discussion in a blogging group about how such quick growth was not possible. It quickly became one of my most popular articles. This article will address how I took that site to the next level – from 12,000 to 100,000 in another 18 months – although I think that if I knew then what I know now, I could have made that jump within 6 months.
Added March 2016: My travel blog now gets over 200,000 page views by just continuing to do what I detail below!
You will learn...
- My secret weapon for increasing page views
- What do I mean by a marketing plan for each blog post?
- What are my marketing plans?
- How do I chose which marketing plan for which blog post?
- What are some of the pitfalls which may prevent success?
- Final thoughts
Even though this article is about my travel blog, I believe the tips here apply across all blogs and sites that have content the owners wish to market (and if you don’t wish to market them, why produce the content?).
1. My secret weapon for increasing page views
You can see how my site grew from October 2013 when I relaunched my site in WordPress and went from an online journal with 0 page views to a far more professional travel blog.
I can take you through the different stages in what I did, what affect it had, etc, but I think the most interesting things to talk about is how I took the site from those beginning stages – where I left off in my 12,000 page views article – and took it to its current level of over 100,000 with continuous growth, even when I am not working on this site at all.
My big secret…
Have a marketing plan for every single blog post
This may seem obvious, and if you already do this, yay! You are on to a good thing. However, I’m willing to bet the majority of bloggers out there do not. Every time I hear the mostly pointless advice of it all being about writing quality content, I just want to barf. What does it matter how quality your content is if no one reads it?
I am not saying you shouldn’t write quality content, of course you should. You should also be doing a lot more than that and you should have a plan before you even start writing.
I have not always done this. I managed to get to over 20,000 page views without thinking about it much at all. However, I would not have made it to my current level without it.
2. What do I mean by a marketing plan for each blog post?
- After the initial promotion on social media, who do you want to see this post?
- What is the best way to ensure this target audience will see this post?
- How will you make it happen?
You do not have to write down your responses or have a written plan. You just need to make smart decisions based on these questions.
If you do your best to ensure that the right people will see your post ongoing then you will always have traffic on your blog. Not only this, but your traffic will increase overall as you add new content. Instead of seeing little bursts when you add a new post, you should just see a continuous upward trend.
3. What are my marketing plans?
It is very very very very rare that I write any post anymore for Where’s Sharon without a purpose. I don’t have the time. The purpose involves money to some degree or sponsored travel in the cases where we want an experience we can’t afford.
I will admit that sometimes the purpose is quite thin – like I find it hard not to write about a destination we loved even if I don’t see it making much money from commissions because not enough people plan to go there, but I do think it through. I rarely write more than two articles a week as otherwise I spend too much time writing instead of marketing. I even think writing two a week is spending too much time writing.
I have three ways I market articles. These strategies are not mutually exclusive. Most articles are marketed in at least two of these ways and some have all three. However, every article has a main way that I plan to market it and how I hope it will gain an ongoing audience. I prefer plans that are quick and easy.
Google search is an excellent way to gain an ongoing audience for your articles. Good solid keyword research is my favourite way to increase traffic.
In addition to good keywords, you will want good Domain Authority for your site (think about strategic guest posting), quality, long articles and you may want to think about building links to your prime content.
You can read more about how I find keywords in this article. I cannot recommend enough being strategic about how you pick keywords. Use my favourite tool in the universe, KeySearch, pick good keywords and please don’t make the mistake I hear so many bloggers making and think that the competitive column in AdWords Keyword Planner has anything to do with how competitive a certain keyword is. It doesn’t.
If you look at my page views above, you can see how my growth was quite small during most of last year and then it took off again. In December is when I started getting smart about using many keywords in articles and my page views have really taken off since then. It is also why I am confident that my page views will continue to grow. 200,000 will not be far away!
I LOVE Pinterest. It is so different from the other forms of social media like Twitter and Facebook. In fact, I would say it is closer to google search as it is basically a search engine – but one that uses images.
Pinterest is an excellent way to market articles. My most popular pin in Pinterest is still drawing over 4,000 page views a month 19 months after I first published it. Can you imagine that happening in Twitter? It wouldn’t.
Having a smart Pinterest strategy is an excellent way to grown your blog traffic. You can copy my Pinterest strategy here.
3. Email subscribers
If you are not putting effort into collecting email subscribers, START RIGHT NOW!!! If you have attracted people to your site via SEO , Pinterest or other methods then why wouldn’t you want to ensure they keep coming back.
Subscribers are gold. They chose to follow you after all. This article is not about collecting them. You can read my articles about picking an email marketing service and how to increase email subscribers for that.
After you have started collecting your perfect target audience (no point collecting everybody who turns up on your site, you just want the people who perfectly match your target), set up an auto responder series.
The majority of bloggers just send out their latest posts and I think this is a mistake. This is because it means that new subscribers will never see that awesome content that you produced in the past that could be just perfect for them.
I send subscribers through a series of emails that send out every 1-2 weeks which discuss topics related to family travel. It sends subscribers to key posts on my websites. This is another great way to keep growing page views on old content and earn affiliate commissions as well.
Not only that but I have found subscribers are far more engaged with a series of emails like this than a newsletter which just discusses what you are writing about now. Whenever bloggers discuss their open rates, mine tend to be far higher than people who send out the traditional newsletter.
I do not find this surprising as:
- I target my opt-in offers to my ideal audience rather than just targeting everyone or running competitions where people have to sign up to enter. See my strategy here.
- My auto responders are about more general topics than many of my most recent posts. For example, as I write this my most recent posts are about Warsaw and Peppa Pig World. It is not surprising that if I sent out an email just containing these that the majority of my subscribers may not be interested.
You are not going to find an email marketing service with a free auto responder series. This will cost although it is minimal when you are starting out. I recommend GetResponse. I now use it for all my sites and I love it. Read my full comparison of MailChimp vs Aweber vs GetResponse vs Mad Mimi here and make up your own mind.
4. How do I choose which marketing plan for which blog post?
For my site, this depends on the topic.
For US and Caribbean destination posts, Pinterest just knocks them out of the park. I find that I struggle to rank in Google for keywords for US and Caribbean destinations and the pins for these places just perform so well in Pinterest that I do not put as much effort into SEO.
For other destinations, I have the opposite approach. They do not go as well in Pinterest and I find it easier to rank in Google so I put a lot of effort into keyword research and article planning to best use the keywords.
For more general, travel planning type articles, I think about what could be most useful to my email subscriber list and the target audience I have built on there.
For what will work best for you very much depends on your site, your topics and your audience. Work out where is the best place to find your target audience and market your articles there. Just remember that you don’t just want to market them once, you want to ensure that you keep marketing your content to its target audience.
5. What are some of the pitfalls which may prevent success?
My biggest frustration when other bloggers talk to me about how I am lucky to be making decent money when they are not is when I see them putting no real thought into how they will market their content.
All bloggers are short of time. If you don’t have the time at the moment to have a marketing plan then cut back on other activities. For example, write less blog posts. In my opinion, it is much smarter to write less blog posts, but do a better job of marketing them, than write many and have no one read them after the first week.
The other big pitfall is sponsored articles whether that’s a sponsored post or a review, like sponsored travel. The articles that need to be produced from these activities do not always lend themselves to good article marketing and is one of many reasons why I would recommend bloggers looking to make their blog into a business be careful about what they take on in this area. Be sure any activity is really worth your time.
6. Final thoughts
It has been great to hit this big milestone and have another indicator that all the time and effort I have put into my travel blog has been worthwhile. Although I am careful not to chase page views for the sake of page views – this is my business after all – it is a good sign that things are progressing well.
I hope this article has given you some clarity around how you can take your own blog forward – Be strategic and think about how you can reach your ideal reader. Good luck!
What marketing strategies do you use for your content?
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase after clicking on these links then I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These are all products I use and love and I feel confident will help you as well. Thanks!