Driving traffic to your blog

Field of Dreams“If you build it, they will come” works in the movie Field of Dreams, but it doesn’t work when you write a blog.

That was the advice Jeff Wilson of PadillaCRT shared with a group of PR practitioners recently.

He’s right. You can’t write a blog, post it and expect that people will find it, let alone visit it.  Recent studies show that more than 60 percent of companies have a blog. A study by IBM notes that 80 percent of companies with blogs have five posts or less. Five posts do not make a blog, nor does it entice one to come back.

I’ve written about the care and feeding of a blog. Today, I wanted to share how I go about driving traffic to my blog so that people will come to it. Heck, maybe Kevin Costner will visit my blog!

Post regularly. I’ve been writing my blog for six years, consistently posting each week. I achieve this by creating a content calendar. I go through the calendar and identify possible topics and upcoming workshops I will attend, which could provide fodder. I also schedule time to research, write and edit. I also spend time finding artwork – usually by taking photos – to illustrate the blog.

Share automatically. I have my blog set up to automatically post to my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. If anyone comments on the blog on one of those sites, I respond. I am able to do this quickly because I have notifications turned on. Forbes reported that social media is now the number one driver of all website referral traffic based on a study by Shareaholic.

Tweet often. One advice I was given was to write five to 10 tweets for each blog post I write. My blogs are intentionally short. If I followed this advice my tweets could conceivably be longer than the original post! I do try to write three to five tweets for each post. It’s part of the writing process, and I schedule the tweets for the immediate weeks after the post has published. These tweets help me reach others who currently are not reading my blog.

Feature your blog on your website You want your readers to easily find your blog. If you are a company, the blog should feed into the main website. For me, my blog is my website, so I have enhanced the blog with additional pages that I want to share with my readers. This is important as I continue to build my coaching business.

5 Steps to Start a Blog

Have you been thinking about starting a blog, but you’re not sure how to get started? Well, stop thinking about it and do it. If you’re like me, though, you need a few steps to get started so here are five to move you forward.

Computer keyboard

The key to writing a blog is to stop thinking about it and write it. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Choose your topic. You can write about anything you want to write about but if you want a following try to narrow your focus. I started my blog as a way to communicate with members of National Federation of Press Women. I’m exposed to lots of information through conferences, training, list serves and business books, and I realized I could distill the nuggets from these sources so that others wouldn’t have to do the research. That’s my blog – Cynthia’s Communique.

Choose a platform.  I set up mine on WordPress because at the time that is what I was most familiar. I also like how easy it is for readers to post comments. Another platform is Tumblr, which is especially nice for short posts and photos. A colleague once described it as long-form Twitter. Whatever, you choose, take the time to read or watch the tutorials.

Create a content calendar. How often will you publish? Where will you find inspiration? I post every Wednesday and Sunday – it’s what works for me. During NFPW conferences, I post daily for the members who can’t attend. You may decide to post simply when you feel like it. A downside to that is that it’s challenging to grow your readership when readers don’t know when to expect a post.

I also keep a running list of ideas. I note key holidays and events that might be relevant for a blog topic. Sometimes I’m able to create evergreen posts that don’t have a time limit but I can use when I might be too busy. These are especially helpful for when I’m traveling and may not have the extra time needed to write a post. My content calendar is always with me so I can tweak it, rearrange it, add to it.

Write your blog. And then proof it and edit it. Even after you do that, you may post a mistake. Own up to it and correct it. My blog is usually a few hundred words. To get to those words, I often spend an hour or two researching my topic, interviewing people, distilling information and then putting the salient points on paper (well, on the screen). It’s a lot of work, and I must carve out time to do it. Be prepared to put in the prep work.

Market your blog. You can write a blog and post it, but that doesn’t mean anyone will see it to read it. It’s not like a baseball field in an Iowa cornfield. You need to employ SEO (search engine optimization or key words). You need to print it on your business card. You need to tweet it. You need to share it on Facebook. You need to talk about it. You should also read other blogs and write a comment if you have something relevant to share. You should link to other blogs and materials in your blog so that your readers know they’re getting something more than simply your thoughts.

These steps will move you forward. You’ll keep learning along the way, just as we all do. When you launch your blog, I hope you will send me a link so I can check it out.

(Thanks to CPW member Ann Lockhart for inspiring this blog.)