If you’re wondering how to drive traffic to your blog, then check out this special guest post from a fellow ecommerce business owner and blogger, and see what she’s learned about running a blog that gets both traffic and business.
Starting a blog is no small task, and getting the number of readers you deserve is no smaller. Many bloggers who are just starting out tend to write only about their business or products, and are often left wondering why their readership isn’t picking up steam.
As the head writer for Harbor Island Oyster Co.’s blog, I too have struggled with viewership growing pains. From my experience, I’ve also learned a lot about what really separates a so-so blog from one that readers will eagerly come back and check.
Here are five tips that I’ve learned to help you start or finesse a blog that reflects your point of view, builds your personal brand and organically drives traffic to your ecommerce website:
1. Leverage industry celebrities
A huge resource for your blog that you may not have tapped into yet is industry celebrities. These celebrities tend to be big influencers, with large social followings to match. When you work with these figures, their popularity can help boost your own and give you a boost in readership.
And believe me, those celebrities are out there. Even the oyster industry has its rock stars, like Rowan Jacobsen, who is basically the Bruce Springsteen of the oyster world. He wrote a book titled The Geography of Oysters that has become a must-read for anyone interested in oysters. A few months ago, I emailed Jacobsen through his website to ask for an interview. He was happy to answer a few questions, and in return, I promoted his book, his website and Jacobsen himself on the blog.
It turned out to be a win for him, and a triple win for me. How? First, the interview significantly increased our organic search ranking for the blog. Second, Jacobsen included our engraved oyster knives in his holiday roundup – directly driving sales. Third, by linking to the interview from the product page, sales of his book on our website site increased. So by working with industry superstars, your business has a lot to gain.
2. Discuss what’s up and coming
One of the easiest ways to both find new readers and tantalize your current audience is to write about what everyone’s already talking about. Get inspiration for your stories from the headlines and tie your posts to a current trend. For example, during the build-up to Will and Kate’s royal wedding, I wrote a quick article about how the royals don’t eat oysters because the official taster can’t first taste the dish to check for poison.
As another example, recently on my RSS feed, a story popped up about about Jean Paul Vellotti, a photographer turned oyster-restaurateur, who is trying to save America’s oldest oyster boat and turn it into a floating oyster bar. He is raising money on Kickstarter, a fundraising site that everyone is buzzing about because one of its projects (a movie based on the ‘Veronica Mars’ TV show) raised $1 million in one day. In addition, the Northeast – especially oyster lovers in Connecticut– are a twitter about the idea of a floating oyster bar. People were and are searching online for information about Kickstarter and the Connecticut oyster bar, and this combination helped our ranking in organic search, brought in new readers from outside of the oyster world and reinforced my blog’s reputation as a current and buzzworthy source of oyster news.
3. Blog the bloggers
Now that you’re a blogger, you’re part of a community comprised of fellow bloggers who are willing to help you – as long as you post great content. If a successful blogger recommends your website or gives you a shout out, you gain access to their loyal audience who may check you out and start following you too. But how do bloggers find out about you to begin with? One surefire way is to write about them first.
I actually stumbled on this idea after the fact. I was doing some research for a story about women and oysters, and I found The Oyster Girls, two fun, creative women who set up mobile oyster bars around the San Francisco area. I wrote about them because I thought their business was clever and I knew my readers would enjoy it. It turns out that they are active bloggers, and after I posted an article about them, they linked back to my Oyster Stew blog. That link back gave me credible exposure to a large pool of engaged oyster enthusiasts on the West Coast. A note of caution, though: Your post about bloggers should be genuine. Good bloggers can spot an attempt to ride their coattails faster than you can press the Enter key.
4. Make it a part of your routine
Even if it doesn’t seem like it at first, blogging is a lot of work, and can quickly grow to be even more once you’ve found success. With researching current trends, reaching out to fellow bloggers and writing new, interesting content for your readers, how does anyone manage it all? The secret is making it a part of your routine.
Personally, I work daily on my blog. I may not necessarily write every day, but you can bet that I’m reading up on what’s new and brainstorming more ideas that will entertain my readers. I’ve also made it habit to do my best to post 1 – 2 times per week, and respond to any comments that I’ve received.
I’ve also put together a rolling editorial calendar to plan for stories up to a year ahead of time so my blog has become a part of my long term business plan as well. This allows me to work on multiple posts at once plan for pictures, and give interviewees plenty of time to respond to my questions.
5. Find your focus
Most bloggers for small businesses are not just the writer, but the editor, publisher and the entire marketing department. With so many responsibilities, it’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. In the face of so much to do, grounding your blog can do wonders in terms of rescuing your focus.
Start by asking yourself: What do you want the blog to be about? What can your readers expect each time they visit the blog? In my case, I could easily veer into writing about other types of shellfish, lobsters and clams, the world’s best beaches or, sustainable fishing, etc., but that’s not what my readers expect and it isn’t part of my brand promise. Therefore, before I post, I always ask myself three questions:
- Is it about oysters?
- Is it interesting to me – an oyster enthusiast?
- Is there a take away for readers – something tangible they can do or think about?
Focused posts improve organic results for top search terms, build the brand promise, and at the end of day (or month or year), drive sales to your ecommerce platform.
Although it’s a lot of work, keeping a blog can be a very fruitful endeavor for your business. So stay vigilant! Remember: Inspiration and ideas for posts can come from anywhere – your friends, the newspaper, gossip columns, the day’s headlines, a magazine at the doctor’s office or a chance encounter. And above all, don’t miss an opportunity to turn every reader into a fan, and eventually, into a potential customer.