It’s hard to believe it’s already two years since I started this blog. Some great things happened this past year. I have two stories that will be published in an anthology by Reuts Publications. For the first time, one of my posts was Freshly Pressed (featured by WordPress). Writing this blog has been mostly great, but sometimes it’s also a frustrating ride.
Here are a few things I learned about blogging the past two years:
1. Don’t pay for traffic. Yes, I did this for a while in the beginning. Don’t do it. It was a waste of money. I doubt I got many–maybe not even any–followers out of it. Have patience–A LOT of patience. Eventually, you will build your follower base and search engines will find you. The traffic will happen, and you’ll learn to lower your expectations. (I now manage to get at least 50 – 100 hits a day without paying for anything, a good amount, in my view.)
2. Don’t use too many categories/tags. This is even more embarrassing to admit than paying for traffic. The fact that I was using too many was pointed out to me by WordPress when they notified me that my post was going to be Freshly Pressed. If you use too many categories and tags, it reads like spam and can hurt your visibility.
3. Freshly Pressed is a huge boost to a follower list. Hands down, it brought me more engaged readers than anything else I have tried. If you’re a WordPress blogger, make it a habit to read the Freshly Pressed posts and get an idea of the kinds of posts they choose. I knew humor was popular on Freshly Pressed, especially when linked to current popular culture. Since pop culture is one of the subjects of my blog, my Zimbio quiz post was a natural. I was pleased, but not tremendously surprised, when it was chosen.
4. Experiment to find the best ways to use social media to promote your blog. For me, the most success has come from using Twitter. Don’t just spam your links to your followers. Participate in discussions and be reciprocal. One of the best things I’ve ever discovered is #MondayBlogs, a hashtag where people share each other’s posts all day every Monday. Not only does it generate traffic, over time I’ve formed relationships with other bloggers. It’s an awesome way to network and make friends with similar interests. There are other similar hashtags; find the one that works best for you.
I also use Stumbleupon, with mixed results. It seems they are always adjusting their algorithm, so there are times when I get literally zero traffic from them and others when posts can explode and go viral. (This is the free area of the site, not the paid traffic area.)
5. Participate in blog events within your area of interest. It was a great day when I discovered blogathons. This is when a group of bloggers posts about the same subject over a short designated period of time–usually three to five days. Film history is a passion of mine, but I haven’t concentrated on it that much until recently. I have really enjoyed participating in some of the classic movie blogathons. This is another way to get more traffic, new followers, and new people to follow who have similar interests.
6. Posts can sometimes go viral with no effort on your part. I’ve had several posts go viral over the past two years. My most popular post is Why I Love/Why I Hate Disney Buying Lucasfilm. It got over 75,000 hits on Stumbleupon. The second most popular is Top 8 Things People Still Get Wrong About the Lost Finale. Someone (I have no idea who) shared it on Reddit. It didn’t get nearly as many hits as the Disney buying Lucasfilm post, but I still get hits from it–almost every day, in fact.
Another post that never actually went viral but generates hits almost every day is my review of Veronica Roth’s book Allegiant. (I’m sure the reason for this is because the book’s ending was very controversial.) Several of my writing advice posts get hits almost every day because someone pinned them on Pinterest. (I really have to find the time to become active over there–a goal for my third blogging year.)
7. When you find a great post by someone else, share it. When I find an exceptional blog post, I share it on Stumbleupon, Twitter and Facebook. Do this on any social media sites where you are active. Do it because you feel people will get value out of reading it. Also do it because it’s good karma.
Looking forward to another great year of blogging! Thanks to all my readers for stopping by!