I’ve shared these resources for bloggers in separate sections for ease of navigation. Just scroll down to the sections that you’re most interested in. This really is a work in progress and will be updated as I get introduced to new resources. If you’re already familiar with the basic plug-ins and platforms for a self-hosted blog and would rather check out my social media or pitching strategies (all really just me sharing my experiences of what worked and what didn’t) check out the posts below.
I began blogging as a hobbyist, and the transition to a professional blogger did not happen overnight. It’s incredible how much I’ve learnt over the past six years. Bloggers who are trying to transition from an amateur blog to a professional one, or hoping to make a career out of it often find it frustrating to deal with all the information. I speak from experience; it’s not that we don’t have the information we need; that is hardly the problem. It’s not knowing what information we’re supposed to be looking for and which advice is actually relevant to us.
I have so many amazing bloggers to thank for sharing these lessons and helping others like me to improve our blogs. There are tons of great resources for new bloggers such as ProBlogger, and they do a thorough job of helping blogs build traffic and monetize, so I’m not going to get into details about the how to’s because frankly, they’re doing a way better job than I could. But as a way to pay it forward, I’m going to share the resources and platforms that I use and can recommend to others. Some of the links are affiliate links, which means that if you sign up using my link, I get a small fee at no extra cost to you. Every bit adds up to keep this blog up and running.
I host my blog on SiteGround but I used to host it on BlueHost and while it started off okay, as my traffic increased, I found that my site suffered from major downtime. You know what that means? Wasted opportunities and people who will never want to come back to your site because it didn’t load the first time around. Plus, your hosting is the very foundation of your blog and it killed me to see how weak mine was.
Ever since I switched to SiteGround, my blog hasn’t had any downtime. I find that they’re really great and quick with service (way quicker than BlueHost)- something that is important to me as a non-technical person who learnt everything from scratch and built this site as a labor of love. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when the day after I shifted my hosting to them, I received an actual phone call from a team member at SiteGround to welcome me and ask if I need support. In this day and age, when you get an international phone call and have an actual person ask you that, you know they really do care about their customers.
I’ve never had any issues with them and would recommend them to anyone who’s looking to move to a self-hosted blog. They’ll even help with transferring your blog over to them in case you don’t want to dive into the technical stuff.
What I Do For Traffic
Every blogger worries about this one aspect that is seemingly hard to figure out at once. Truth is that understanding how to get traffic (hits, pageviews if you’re not familiar with the term traffic) is an important part of a blogger’s job and takes a while- time you spend analyzing data, experimenting and testing. It’s not something you figure out overnight and there’s no one-size-fits-all.
Where you get your traffic depends a lot on the type of content you create and your target audience. For example, if you create posts that are helpful and have a solid handle on SEO, your traffic comes from Google Search and this is always great because this content grows in popularity organically depending on how good it is. But if you write posts that are of a personal nature that a lot of your readers/friends/colleagues can relate to, then they’ll be found when they’re shared on social networks like Facebook which is great too because that’s the playground where all the kids hang out.
In this section, I reveal what has and has not worked for me. My advice: test out different strategies and find what works for you. Do NOT give up- traffic takes time and determination. One foot in front of the other, okay soldier? 😉
When I started, I avoided reading a lot of SEO articles because it seemed overwhelming. Of course, this was a big mistake and I don’t recommend any blogger to be as stupid as I was when I started out. It might seem scary but if you take the time to learn about SEO Optimization, you’ll thank yourself in the long run. You don’t have to be a specialist (always great if you become one) but know basic things about how to optimize your content for SEO so that it’s easily found by search engines. SEO- Search Engine Optimization- is made up of many aspects- tiny little tweaks you can do to your post so that search engines like Google can find it easily- which means that people who’re likely to be interested in it or are looking for that info can find it easily.
At the minimum, get the Yoast SEO (linked under the Plugins section) plugin for your blog. It asks for information you need to input before you hit Publish on a post- that helps optimize your content at least a little.
I see so many bloggers talk about how figuring out Pinterest has been a game changer in their traffic situation. My own learning journey has always been a gradual one but using Tailwind has definitely helped me improve my monthly traffic by as much as 30%. The growth isn’t drastic and rapid as it is for other bloggers but obviously if I had more time to spend on it (which would only be possible if I had one more of me because I swear I am stretched to the limit), I’m sure I’d see better results. I find that using the Pinterest scheduling tool Tailwind drastically reduces the time I need to spend on Pinterest to get results.
Tailwind helps me schedule interesting content from other sites and from my own blog for the entire week in under an hour. I can set up the system to pin at regular intervals or at specific times which means that my Pinterest is always active and enjoys good visibility. I have the Plus membership which allows me to schedule as many pins as I like. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on Pinterest but still want to see the traffic spike that you hear about, get Tailwind Plus, you won’t regret it!
I know that not many bloggers do this and this is something I started doing just last year (2015) and saw fantastic results. Simply put, whenever I publish a post about a certain country/city/town, I look for Facebook groups and pages who might be interested in that content and would like to share it. Then, I shoot them a private message introducing myself and the links to the content asking if they would be willing to share. Most times, they’re so pleased and happy to share- which means a nice traffic bump for me. Look for pages and groups that share other people’s content instead of only their own, you’ll have better luck.
Here’s a list of WordPress plugins I use and how they help. This list is a result of trial and error and I hope it helps you. My advice is to experiment, understand what works for you and then decide if you want to keep it or not.
Google Analytics because how else are you going to track the important statistics? As a professional blogger, you need insight into how well you’re connecting with your target audience. Google Analytics provides you with numbers such as Page Views, Unique Visitors and other audience information such as demographics. It lets you create custom reports in your dashboard to analyze and compare your stats over different periods.
Google XML Sitemaps Sitemaps help search engines like Google and Yahoo to better index your blog and search through posts, pages and categories.
UpDraftPlus-BackUp/Restore Periodically takes backups of my site including all back end data.
WordPress SEO by Yoast For all my SEO needs such as on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.