In the early stages of growing your WordPress blog? Or have your visitor numbers started to plateau or even *gasp* dwindle and you’re wondering what on earth to do next?
It’s tough. Sometimes, it can feel like you’ll never get to the level of the high flyers in your industry.
But, don’t give up. You’ve already put in lots of hard work by creating your website and blog posts. And you may just need to adopt some better strategies to take your blog to the next level.
This guide will teach you how to take a more strategic approach, grow your audience, increase traffic, and ultimately achieve your goals.
1. Have a Clear Strategy
If you’re serious about growing your WordPress blog, you need a strategy.
When you have a clear strategy, every single blog post you create will help you to achieve your goals. Without a strategy, you run the risk of blogging haphazardly and wasting time and effort.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Define Your Goals
What do you hope to achieve by blogging? Do you want to raise awareness for a cause that’s dear to your heart? Do you want to monetize your blog and become a pro blogger? Or maybe your blog is connected to your business and you hope to use it to build customer loyalty?
Whatever your goals are, you must document them. And use them to inform every decision you make and every piece of content you create going forward.
One of the best ways to do this is to set SMART goals for your blog or business. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Of course, you’ll have your overarching goal, e.g. “to monetize my blog”. But, when you set SMART goals, you get into the finer details. Using the previous example, you might set the following goals:
In 6 Months:
- Grow traffic to 1k per month
- Grow subscriber list to 100
In 12 Months:
- Place affiliate links on top blog posts
- Grow traffic to 3k per month and subscribers to 500
2. Determine Your Content Strategy
Next, you’ll need to go into even more detail and define the content strategies you’ll use to help you achieve the goals you’ve just outlined. Your content strategy will be entirely personal to you and what you hope to achieve.
For instance, if you want to monetize your blog, you might opt for an SEO-driven content strategy. This way you’d be able to attract visitors looking for solutions to their problems on search engines and recommend products perhaps.
Whereas, if you want to raise awareness for a cause, you’d create content on multiple channels in order to reach the widest audience possible and so on. These are just some examples of content marketing strategies that drive growth.
All in all, you need to be clear on what you hope to achieve and then you’ll be able to work out the best tactics for achieving it.
2. Build Your Subscriber List
You should start collecting email subscribers as soon as possible and always continue to work on growing your subscriber list. Newbies often miss this part out and wait until later to start growing a subscriber list. But, the sooner you can start growing a community that you can utilize for whatever your goals are, the better.
Now, have you ever been to a website and seen a popup that says “Join our list of 3 kazillion subscribers”? They make it seem easy to collect subscribers. The truth is, it’s difficult to get people to sign up for your mailing list. And subscriber rates vary.
A Databox study found that 36% of sites have a blog/newsletter subscription rate of just 1-5%, while 48% achieve a rate of 11%+:
But, there are ways you can improve your chances of landing in the higher bracket. Here’s how you can get more subscribers for your blog:
1. Create Appealing Opt-In Forms
It’s easier to create professional-looking forms than you think. JotForm, for example, has tons of free, ready-made templates you can customize for your blog.
When creating your form, use enticing copy to attract subscribers. Also, keep form fields to a minimum to make it as easy as possible to sign up.
Furthermore, you should place your forms in strategic locations. For instance, you can insert a form with a relevant offer at the end of a blog post. Or you could set up exit-intent popups that trigger when somebody is about to leave your site.
2. Offer Incentives for Signing Up
Increase signups by giving visitors a reason to subscribe. Your offer or incentive should be catered to your audience and/or the blog content it’s attached to.
In this example, a craft blogger offers subscribers free printable card kits:
You can do something similar by offering bonus content or resources that are relevant to your audience. For example, you could offer a template, checklist, cheat sheet, or similar.
Make your form and your incentive attractive and you’ll be onto a winner.
3. Network With Other Bloggers
One of the best ways to grow your blog is to network and collaborate with other bloggers. And WordPress, in particular, promotes community vibes. For instance, there are tons of enthusiastic WordPress communities across the globe.
The cool thing is, you’d be surprised by how willing bloggers are to give one another a lift up. I, personally, have benefitted from building relationships with other bloggers. We share tips, we collaborate on content creation, we big up each other’s stuff, and more.
Fewer bloggers use influencer outreach (12%) than other promotion tactics, e.g. social media (94%). Yet, it’s the most effective promotional strategy for bloggers:
So, essentially, networking with other bloggers or influencers is an underrated strategy that could drive serious growth. Here’s how to get started:
1. Find Bloggers in Your Niche
Naturally, you’re more likely to form connections with those who create similar content to you. Plus, these relationships will be more beneficial for many reasons. For example, you may be able to make relevant industry connections that lead to business partnerships or earn backlinks on highly relevant sites.
Here are some places where you can find similar bloggers:
- Browse WP Discover which showcases bloggers from a range of niches along with their work.
- Join blogging communities e.g. Triberr or GrowthHackers.
- Search “top [keyword] blogs” on Google.
- Find relevant groups and communities on social media.
2. Build Authentic Relationships
Busy bloggers receive messages from people who want something from them all day long. But, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
You have to build genuine connections. If you’re reaching out to an influencer, try asking a well-thought-out question about their latest blog post. Or share and link to their work to get their attention. And later down the line, you can start building mutually beneficial relationships.
So, you might not see the benefits of your networking immediately. But, trust me, it will pay off in due time.
4. Utilize Plugins
WordPress has an enormous library of plugins which makes it one of the most customizable blogging platforms going. Anybody can build and grow a website like a pro, without the need for advanced tech skills or a large budget.
Here are some examples of plugins that will help you grow your WordPress blog:
Yoast SEO is the plugin for SEO. Even those who have been blogging for a long time need to take full advantage of Yoast. It acts as a checklist that reminds you of all the little things you need to do to optimize your posts for search engines.
2. Social Share Buttons
It baffles me when I see a blog that doesn’t have social share buttons on their posts. Do you really think people are going to copy and paste all of the information over to Twitter etc? No. You need to make it as easy as possible for people to share your posts. Examples include Click To Tweet, Sumo Share and ShareThis.
3. Site Speed
When you create a great user experience for visitors, they stick around for longer and are more likely to return to your site. Making sure your site loads quickly is essential for a good user experience. You can do this via plugins, such as WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache.
You’ll need forms on your WordPress site so that users can engage and connect with you. For instance, you can use a plugin such as WordPress Embed Form to place any kind of form anywhere on your site. Or you might get the Constant Contact or MailChimp plugin so that you can collect email addresses.
There are lots of plugins out there that you may want to experiment with. But these four main categories are fundamental for growing your blog.
5. Promo, Promo, Promo
You need to spend as much (if not more) time promoting your blog posts as you do creating them. The “Build it and they will come,” philosophy doesn’t necessarily work when it comes to blogging.
There are 70 million new blog posts on WordPress every month. Thus, your promo strategy needs to be on-point if you hope to stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips:
1. Utilize Your Connections
Once you’ve built up your network of bloggers, you can begin to work with them in more of a strategic way, as mentioned above. Just remember that these partnerships need to be reciprocal and you have to offer as much value as you hope to receive.
2. Guest Blog
Reach pre-existing audiences in your niche by guest blogging on other sites. Naturally, you can and should utilize your blogging network to win guest post spots.
You can also find blogs that accept guest posts simply by searching on Google. Type in “[keyword] + write for us” or “[keyword] + contribute”, for example, to find the most relevant blogs. Make sure the blogs have a high domain authority using a tool, such as MozBar.
3. Up Your Social Media Game
When it comes to social media, it pays to know your blog’s audience really well. When you do, you can hone in on the right social media channels, groups, pages, types of media, hashtags and so on. This means you can reach the right people that are most likely to click on and engage with your posts.
There are also lots of tools you can use to manage social media or plan and schedule your posts in advance. This is really helpful for bloggers who run a one-person show and don’t have the time or resources to post on multiple social media channels multiple times a day.
4. Repurpose Content
One of the most efficient ways to grow your blog is to repurpose your blog posts. This means that you get more out of every piece of content you create. You also have the benefit of reaching people that prefer different types of media.
For instance, you could turn the steps in a how-to post into a video tutorial. Or take the research you did for a post and create an infographic.
Overall, a solid distribution strategy for your blog posts takes work but you can speed up the process by utilizing your contacts and resources.
There’s more to growing your WordPress blog than creating great blog posts. There need to be strategies behind what you’re doing if you want to see your traffic and audience grow.
Here are the key takeaways from this guide:
- You must define your goals and the strategies you’ll use to reach them.
- Build up an audience by collecting subscribers.
- Get to know other bloggers so you can help each other out.
- Take advantage of plugins that’ll give your site a boost.
- Promote the hell out of the great content you create.
Now it’s over to you to grow your WordPress blog. Take the first step by outlining your SMART goals.
Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash