All the Things That I Thought Would Grow My Blog but Didn’t
I’m currently dealing with a mild case of imposter syndrome.
My blog traffic has gone mental and I can’t shake the feeling it was dumb luck, rather than the years of trying and failing, and thousands of hours I’ve put into writing content.
This isn’t helped AT ALL by lockdown coinciding with my website reaching its eighth month — usually about the time Google has convinced itself you’re not an elaborate scam artist.
I’ve written extensively here on Medium about the on-page SEO that have worked for me, but today will cover all the things that haven’t worked.
I’m not saying that they definitively don’t work, just that they didn’t contribute to the success of my website at all.
All the things I’ve picked are commonly seen in ‘how do I get traffic to my blog’-type articles, and I’ve tried all of them multiple times.
Why I tried all of these methods
In short, I wanted to easily get a lot of traffic to my blog, without waiting or creating a lot of content.
Easy traffic doesn’t exist. Sorry. What we want is sustainable traffic. Traffic that continues to roll in whether we publish new content or not. Traffic we don’t have to promote.
Because that way, we’re setting ourselves up to make truly passive income. Say you come down with a cold.
Wouldn't it be nice knowing that you could take a week to sit on the sofa, watch Steel Magnolias, and feel sorry for yourself rather than struggle all week ensuring that you’re not losing traction on social media, and therefore your website traffic?
Read this post if you want to know about attracting traffic. Carry on reading if you want to know what not to do.
Not what to do ever, but what not to do in the first few months of your new website.
I believe that if you spend all your time trying to promote your blog, you end up getting sick of the grind. You risk doing something rash like deleting all your content and running off to join the circus.
The best article in the world won’t be ranked by Google immediately. You need to be patient. In my experience, trying to rush the process makes you get even more obsessed with your stats.
For the first three months of your website AT LEAST, every hit you get is a miracle. Not getting any at all is perfectly normal.
Like I said, I’m not saying this stuff doesn’t have it’s place, just that its better to give this stuff a shot once you start getting traffic, and you have a lot of content.
1 — Pinterest
Repeat after me: Pinterest is NOT going to get you a lot of traffic EASILY.
People that tell you that have one or all of these things:
- A Tailwind affiliate link
- An affiliate link for a Pinterest course
- A Pinterest course to sell
Don’t get me wrong, I do use Pinterest. Every article gets a pin, that I pin to my (optimised) profile. But apart from that, I just use Pinterest to pin cool stuff. I may pin 15 pins one day, and then none for a month.
Maybe one day I’ll take the time to figure out Pinterest, but in the first few months of your blog, it’s wasting time you should be spending writing content.
The general argument in favour of Pinterest is that it’s a quick way to get at least some traffic. And I get that — blogging to an empty auditorium is hard.
But I urge to try to accept that you won’t get traffic for a while.
Think about planting an acorn. A beautiful tree will grow, and there are things you can do to help it grow — water it, keep it safe etc. But getting people to come and look at it won’t help it grow any quicker.
And those people probably won’t buy your ‘growing an oak tree’ ebook.
But once it’s a big and beautiful oak tree, people will WANT to come and look at it. Hell, they may even PAY you to have a look at this beautiful tree. And a few will be asking about how to grow their own oak tree.
2 — Facebook groups
I love Facebook groups, but not for dropping links. All those blogging groups that do follow for follow threads are a waste of time.
All the people interacting with your content aren’t interested in it— they probably don’t even have time to read your article or scroll through your Instagram feed.
You get a few clicks, sure. But what for? You might make a penny from ads, but that’s about it.
Everyone on those groups is only out for themselves. No one’s randomly scrolling through the links looking for cool content.
3 — Syndicating content
I do occasionally syndicate content to Medium if I think it would be useful to my audience but in my experience, only certain content does well. I started a plant publication that no one — including me — gives a shit about.
I’ve experimented with LinkedIn in the past, but realistically, my audience doesn’t hang out there. No one hangs out on LinkedIn — everyone there is either looking for something specific or trawling for traffic. Randomly uploading a few articles and abandoning them without implementing some kind of (time-consuming) strategy is not going to automatically drive a lot of traffic to your site.
4 — Social sharing
I don’t share my content anywhere other than Pinterest (and I only share it there once).
Sharing icons used to be big business in the blogging world. You needed a ‘pin it’ button, a plugin like Social Warfare, and they were always top of ‘everything your blog needs’ lists.
If people want to share your content, they’ll find a way. I’ve shared hundreds of articles in my lifetime, and I’ve never clicked a ‘share this!’ button. They’re invariably either slow, buggy, or a bit twee.
Speaking of speed, sharing plugins, even premium ones, are likely to have an impact on your website’s speed. Be wary.
5 — Guest posting
Controversial I know.
But here’s the thing — guest posting is SO time-consuming. You have to find a website that’s worth getting featured on, which will need to have these features:
- It’s authoritative and gets a lot of traffic
- It has an audience that will value your content
- But it can’t be a direct competitor — so an adjacent, but not an identical niche.
Who has the time?
Then you need to pitch a GREAT article, but pick a hyper-competitive keyword (otherwise why bother? It may as well go on your site and benefit you in the future), and then get accepted.
When you consider that Google is moving further and further away from ranking sites on backlinks, is it really worth it?
Guest posting doesn’t drive traffic. Only a small percentage of readers will click through, and Google is well aware of people trying to use link juice to boost their DA, so barely consider it.
If you’re looking for a quick way to get a tonne of traffic, it doesn’t exist.
Any of the OG bloggers here will remember when Stumbleupon was a thing.
It could easily drive 500 people to your site a day, that didn’t give one flying fuck about your content. I was super excited about all the views, but my average time on page was 00:00:00.
No newsletter sign-ups.
No emails from users recommending films that I might like (probably my favourite email ever).
Certainly no sales or clicks on affiliate links.
It’s taken me a long time to realise that such traffic is nothing more than a vanity metric.
You’re not looking for any traffic, you’re looking for your traffic. People that need your content, not people that chanced upon it.
And I’m afraid you’ll need to be patient and you’ll need to have all their content waiting for them.