10 Tips for Growing Your Blog (a ProBlogger Book Review)

One of my very favorite websites for blogging, social media and making money from it all is ProBlogger. I even bought all of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook but haven’t yet found the time to read it. Oops. So thank goodness Tamara offered to share with my readers this review of Darren Rowse’s incredibly popular new book. Enjoy!

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For Christmas, my 13-year old son gave me the newest edition of Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett’s book; ProBlogger, Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. I suspected an ulterior motive on his part (X-box, iPhone, a car for his 16th birthday…), but was intrigued by the title, as I often dream of being able to leave my day job to devote more of my time to my first love, writing!

image source: problogger.net

While the book has several chapters clearly detailing the specifics of monetization strategies (and a warning that very few bloggers ever see six-figure financial success), I believe it’s most important contributions lie in the myriad suggestions for building a better, more widely read, shared and hence, more easily monetized blog.

Below are my 10 favorite ProBlogger tips.

1. Know your niche and blog within it.

Well-monetized sites tend to be seen as an authority on a single topic. Write on too many topics and it’s hard to cultivate an engaged community (most members won’t share all of your passions). Brands may feel that the attention you can generate for them is ‘watered down’ when compared with a site that only publishes content relative to the brand’s target audience. I blog about fitness, food and fiber, not blogging, hence this guest post (thanks Katy!).

2. Provide useful content.

Posts that attempt to answer questions and solve problems are much more likely to be shared. Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers. Open-ended or unfinished posts tend to generate the most comments from readers.

3. Improve your writing.

Quality over quantity. Make it easy for readers to figure out what your post is about. Your first sentence or two should hook the reader and compel them to read on. Bury your main point and many won’t read through to find it. Make sure spelling and grammar are correct; nothing turns a new reader or potential brand off faster than poorly written content.

4. Keep posts to a single topic.

Rambling posts lead to click aways. Brands don’t always want to share the spotlight with your workouts, outfits and family photos. Got five things to talk about? Write five posts! A series of posts on related topics can be a great way to generate return readers and help turn you into an authority. Brands love authorities.

5. Make it easy for readers to stay on your site.

Give them something to click on. Back links to previous posts are a great way to improve your reader retention. (I’ve recently gone back to my most popular posts and added forward links to relevant posts that I’ve written more recently; it works!). Keep them on your page rather then directing them to other sites. Place the material that you want them to find early on and high up on your page. People tend to read diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right; start and end points are the best places for call to action items.

6. Think about your posting frequency.

Too infrequently and you won’t gain momentum. Too frequently and you may turn readers off. Additionally, you’ll ‘bury’ posts before people have time to read, comment and share. I used to worry about losing readers on days when I didn’t have a post to publish, but noticed that waiting an extra day or two between posts that I really wanted input on, dramatically increased my page views.

7. Know who’s visiting your blog, what they expect to find when they arrive and the search terms they’re using to find you.

Use analytics to find the most frequently searched terms that lead to your site. Then write about these topics! Find your most read posts and write about those topics again. Don’t forget to back link to the earlier, popular post. Need help writing for SEO? Katy’s got you covered!

8. Cultivate incoming links.

Search engines reward pages that have lots of inbound links, especially if those links come from high ranking pages. Tips for getting those links? Link to those high ranking pages first! Every time a blog post is linked to the author gets a ‘track back’ notice. When I see these on my own blog, I always click through to find out who’s linking to me and what they’re saying! Writing guest posts for high ranking sites is also a way to direct traffic back to your site. Check out Katy’s guest post do’s and don’ts.

9. Create a ‘sticky’ community.

You want people to feel like your page is their second home. Encourage comments by asking for them. Pose a question, leave a call to action; earlier in the article (or even in the title) is best. In the early stages of your blog, make sure you’re responding to ALL comments (and with thoughtful responses, not just “THANKS!”). If you’re commenting on other blogger’s posts (a great way to get inbound links), make sure you’re adding value. “Nice post” doesn’t cut it and often, effectively ends the conversation.

10. Tap into human nature.

People naturally gravitate towards the popular. Studies show that when people see a lot of other people doing something, they’re more likely to themselves (remember high school?). Consider letting readers know how many page views your blog has had, the number of people who subscribe to it, the size of your Twitter and Facebook and Instagram communities. Most of these numbers can be made visible by simply checking off a box in your settings or widget configuration files.

Note that I could easily have added another ten tips to this list (or even turned it into a series!), but am paying attention to tip number 11: avoid writing overly length posts ;)

Tamara Grand lives in beautiful British Columbia Canada with her husband, three children, a ginger cat and a large stash of hand-dyed yarn. She works as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor and enjoys pushing her clients and class participants out of their comfort zones. She’s happiest when they text her the day after a workout complaining about sore arms and legs.

She believes that exercise and healthy eating need to be part of everyone’s life and aims to inspire and motivate others by showing them that if she can do it, anyone can. She blogs about fitness, food, family and fiber (knitting fiber, that is) at fitknitchick.com and is always thrilled when you comment on her posts. Please follow her on Twitter @fitknitchick_1.

Have you tried (and had success with?) any of the above tips? What’s your favorite strategy for improving your blog?

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    These are definitely some great tips. I hadn’t heard of the book but I’m going to have to go check it out because it sounds awesome! I find it so easy to get caught up in the “numbers” sometimes that I think it becomes easy to post just for posting’s sake, rather than because you have something really meaningful to say. That’s something I’m working on as part of Katy’s 28 Blog Challenge. :)

    • 2

      says

      Katie, you can have your cake and eat it too! I’ve been implementing many of these tips over the past few months and have seen great response in both reader engagement and overall numbers! See you over on the Blog Challenge!

  2. 3

    says

    These are all fantastic things to keep in mind! I’ve recently started paying more attention to SEO and learned the power to linking back to everything I can think of. It’s such a great way to get some love for the good posts I wrote before anyone (except my mom) read my blog. Funny… now my mom doesn’t read my blog… LOL!

    • 4

      says

      That’s a great way to improve retention on your site. I’ve been working on this as well; the problem is, I’ve written so many posts I can’t remember all the relevant ones. (And I don’t think my mom even knows what a blog is…)

  3. 5

    says

    As a very new blogger, I appreciate these tips! Funny, I just downloaded that book on my Nook last week. Just like exercise, I need to carve out a part of every day to devote to growing my blog – the right way. Thank you!!

    • 6

      says

      Great idea Mindy! I read a chapter a night and generously covered the pages with orange high lighter! I also made notes as I went on things that were easy to implement and change right away. There was so much great info that I felt I would lose track of tips if I didn’t write them down!

  4. 7

    says

    This is all so helpful. Makes me want to check into that book! I love the tip about not having too many different topics in one post- the times I ask my husband for feedback on a post, that is most often his reaction… couldn’t that be 5 different posts? :) That’s the one I’m really working on. I used to reply to all comments as well and definitely think it helped to build community, but now I can no longer do that and get everything else done. I always respond to questions, and try to respond to others that contribute to the conversation as well. Thanks for this, Tamara!

    • 8

      says

      Laura, I must say, that as a reader, that’s the biggest turn off for me. I want to sit and read and ponder on a single topic, not ramble around and have to search for the main theme.

  5. 9

    says

    Very helpful tips! I too get hung up on posting frequency. Maybe I need to relax. SEO is a whole differnt animal. So much to learn on that front!

    • 10

      says

      Marcia, I used to read all of these bloggers that posted daily (and even multiple times a day) and think that there was something wrong with me. Now I realize that crafting a quality post takes time and if that means only publishing every 2nd or 3rd day, I’m okay with that. Quality over quantity!

  6. 13

    says

    Awesome post. The one tip I’ve been using recently has been quality over quantity. I haven’t been posting as frequently because I found that I didn’t want to keep burying my better posts over more random posts that I wasn’t as proud of. I want a reader to come to my page and see the best content right there, so I decided to not post any random pointless posts any more. Even though I’m now blogging about 3 times a week, it beats 5/6 times a week I did before and my readership has increased.

    • 14

      says

      That’s great Kammie! It really does seem counterintuitive, I know. I had the same experience though (and 3 times a week is still plenty of work with other commitments, don’t you find?)

  7. 15

    says

    As a reader, I think tip #6 is SO incredibly important. If you don’t have anything to say – DON’T POST. It’s not the end of the world or your blog. I used to force myself to post several times a day until I realized even I didn’t want read what I was writing! Could I BE any more boring?

    Thanks for putting these tips out there!

    • 16

      says

      Ha! I think that once you start reading more blogs it becomes quite apparent when people are posting just for the sake of posting!
      Thanks for your comment Michelle!

  8. 17

    says

    Aha I can’t wait to get reading this book! It’s on my shelf right now, but I’ve just gotta finish the one I’m on first! Thanks for the tips, 1) They’re too true and anyone would be silly to deny them, and 2) You’ve given me an idea of what’s to come! Have a great day :)

    • 18

      says

      Nick, sometimes the most obvious things still need to be pointed out! Funny how they’re not obvious until after someone mentions them… I thought this a lot as I read the book!

    • 20

      says

      Heather, I think it’s an odd quirk of psychology. Just because WE’RE not on our sites posting things doesn’t mean that other people aren’t there READING them!

    • 22

      says

      Michelle, it’s a great investment. I believe that can download it on Kindle too (although I prefer the paperback form ’cause I like to underline and highlight and make notes!

  9. 27

    says

    I love that you list that posting too much can bury posts. First, I don’t have that kind of time to post every day, but most importantly, I did notice that I wouldn’t get as much interaction when I tried to. I definitely think it’s important to allow your readers a day or two to come back to your blog for a discussion. Great tips!

    • 28

      says

      Maria, another point along the same lines is about how quickly we respond to our readers’ comments. I always try and get back to them within the day, but another blogger pointed out to me that by leaving comments ‘unanswered’ for a bit longer, readers are more likely to ‘chime in’ and discuss amongst themselves. If they see us as being the ‘authority’, it can end the discussion. More food for thought…

  10. 31

    says

    Thanks for this post Tamara (and Katy)! I have been wondering if this book would be worth it for me to read and after reading your review, I think it would be! I am trying to increase visits, comments and returning readers to my site and several of these are helpful to me. I need to pay more attention to post length (I think) and maybe topics.

  11. 33

    says

    Such a great article I am considering buying the books but I wasn’t sure how helpful they would be. Even the reader comments have been helpful… I didn’t even know there were podcasts :0

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