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What's more important than traffic for a blog? Nothing, right? Wrong.
Everyone seems so traffic obsessed when it comes to blogging, but guess what? Traffic isn't all it's cracked up to be, and it's only one piece of the puzzle. I'm going to talk about things that are more important than traffic for your blog. I've also included a FREE printable worksheet at the bottom of this post.
Trust is more important than traffic.
Tell your story. Your story is yours alone, and nobody else can duplicate it. Your story is how your readers connect to, you guessed it, you! Why does it matter? Because when it comes to blogging, trust is more important than traffic. If your readers don't trust you, they're not going to come back. Plus, contrary to what some bloggers think, your readers always want to know more about YOU. I have read tons of posts saying “don't get too personal”, but you know what? My personal posts are the ones that get the MOST traffic. Those bloggers are worried about traffic but they overlook the importance of creating a relationship with their readers.
Task #1: Take a moment to stop focusing on traffic. Even if it's just for a few weeks. Ignore Google Analytics, hide Jetpack, and just step away from the pageviews for at least 2 weeks. Nothing astronomical or awful will happen if you ignore your stats for a few weeks. Pinky promise.
Relationships are more important than traffic.
When your readers know you, they love you. When they love you, they engage with your posts – on your blog, on social media, etc. Engagement means you get paid more even if you have small traffic numbers.
You'll get emails asking questions, or just sharing stories with you – even asking your advice, when you might be clueless yourself. They trust you. To date, I still have two emails that really, really hit me emotionally – in a good way. I cried over both of them, which is a huge deal since I never cry!
One was from a teenage girl, she was about 16 at the time, and she was afraid to come out to her parents. She knew she was a lesbian, but knew they wouldn't approve – and was afraid of what they'd think. We chatted a bit and she told me that me telling my coming out story really helped her. It was at that point that I realized I had to keep blogging about the real stuff. Not just the fluff, not just the SEO'd posts, not just the stuff that makes money – but the stuff that really creates emotional attachments between myself and my readers.
The other message was recent, and I totally lost my shit and cried several times. One of my very favorite readers (that I now consider a friend) lost her husband just a few days before Christmas. He had been sick, she had been his caregiver for a few years, but he passed away literally right before Christmas. I sent her a message, you know the “sorry for your loss” type, when you really don't know what else to say. She responded letting me know that when her husband had his accident a few years ago, I helped him. How did I help him? I didn't even know him! Well, she read my blog posts to him, talked about what I posted on Facebook, and told stories that I shared about our family. It helped give his brain a work out, and she said he loved hearing about us. This is why I form relationships with my readers – this right here. The good stuff.
Task #2: Work on forming relationships with your readers. Whether it's by responding to their comments on your blog, or chatting with them on Facebook through your blog fan page, just give them a little attention and let them know how much they mean to you. Without your readers, your blog doesn't amount to much.
Engagement is more important than traffic.
With trust and relationships come engagement. Like I said above, even with smaller traffic numbers, if you have HIGH engagement rates, brands will pay you MORE for posts. If I had not earned the trust of my readers, and had not formed relationships, I wouldn't have received the engagement – in the form of emails, messages on Facebook, or a simple “like” or “share” on my posts. My readers are my cheerleaders! I have several dozen that have been reading my blog since the beginning, and they always make sure they “like” my posts, even when they don't have time to comment – or they don't have the interest to share. I blog about a LOT of topics, so to have these loyal readers… well, that's a HUGE deal! That goes back to telling your story. Are your readers engaging with you? If they're not, maybe it's time to get a little more personal.
When I shared our story about the girls getting bullied at school, it was on the news and shared on several BIG Facebook pages. A lot of new readers came my way from that story, and they're invested in the girls. They are watching them grow up, they love them and care about them – even if they don't know them personally, they feel like they do.
Task #3: Engage with your readers. This is similar to task #2, but in this task I want you to focus on finding things that will MAKE your readers WANT to engage with you. Whether you're sharing a funny meme on your fan page, or sharing a popular recipe from another blogger's site, share something that is … well … worth sharing.
I have learned a lot by reading Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – most important is just to engage with your fan base and don't constantly hit them with “right hooks”. That means sharing fun stuff, for entertainment value, related to your niche, about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time you can share things that benefit you directly. As an example, look at this post. I've written well over 1200 words full of tips that will help you improve your blog, but I also just included an affiliate link to a product I use and love. Jab, jab, jab, right hook.
P.S. Vaynerchuk actually agrees that attention is more important than impressions – meaning… engagement. BAZINGA!
Money is more important than traffic.
With all of the things above, comes the opportunity to make money. Money is important, obviously, because it pays the bills. Your readers aren't going to click your affiliate links or buy your ebook if you haven't gained their trust and formed relationships yet, so don't just skip ahead to this tip! Make sure you've read the other ones – and hopefully taken some notes.
Once you've created your blog and have added lots of content, gained new followers, and made some friends… now it's time to make some money, honey! Start by adding in affiliate links from places like Amazon or ShareaSale. If you need help getting started with a blog, sign up for hosting through my link and then join my blog help group. I'm happy to help you in any way I can.
Full honesty – when I get 300,000 pageviews in a month, the chances of me making money are higher than if I had 10,000 pageviews in a month, but my loyal readers are always here regardless. Sometimes they don't visit my blog every day, sometimes they just hang out on Facebook – and that's okay! It's important to connect with your readers on their platform.
Task #4: Create a plan to make some money. Sign up as an Amazon affiliate if you can. If you can't (some states don't allow it), find another affiliate to use. My friend, Tara, compiled a huge list of blog networks that pay – that's a great place to start.
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