Tonight I want to continue the series I started a couple days ago on how to start a bargain blog. If you missed the earlier posts, you can read first about how to prepare and then considering your content.
I want to share one of the trickier aspects of blogging now. And admittedly, it's something I'm still working at. Building traffic. Why does traffic matter? Simply put, the more traffic to your site, the more opportunities you will have. You'll develop a better community among your readers, be emailed more and better deals, and perhaps most bluntly, you will make more money (if this is something that matters to you).
When I started this blog, I averaged around 40 visits a day. I'm now up to about 1,100. Many bargain bloggers get much more traffic than that (and I sure hope some of them will be sure to leave a comment with their ideas!). I will share with you some of the basic things that I've done.
Word of mouth. The most loyal readers have come word-of-mouth. Do NOT underestimate the power of simply telling people about your blog, one at a time. I had some ultra-cheap business cards made at Vistaprint and then I hand them out to friends and family. Just today, I gave a stack of about 30 cards to my mom because she has this knack for striking up conversations at the gym, at the supermarket, at church…she has brought me so many readers! I also keep these business cards handy and have been known to leave them on store shelves with coupons and even hand them to cashiers who were impressed with my savings. This is probably the most basic way to start out.
Networking with other bloggers. When I started out, I emailed a few of my favorite bloggers and introduced myself, asked a few questions, and offered to write a few guest posts. (You can find out who took me up on this by poking around my Guest Posts category.) By writing a guest post on a bigger blog, I was able to get people reading my writing that might not have found me otherwise. To my surprise, many other bloggers were only too happy to have me write a guest post because it meant less content for one day they'd need to come up with. Incidentally, I am always looking for folks interested in writing guest posts here! If you are a new and wondering how to gain some new readers, consider emailing me and pitching me an idea you have for a guest post.
Sharing your deals with bloggers. Find some HOT online deal? A new rebate? A coupon? If you found such a deal, email it to higher trafficked bloggers in hopes that they might post it on their site with a link back to your blog. This is very common practice and it's how many bloggers have gotten on the radar. Here's the etiquette (as I see it). If you choose to email your deal, be sure to put the bloggers' email addresses in the "BCC" field and not "to" field for privacy reasons. In the subject, make it clear what the deal is. BRIEFLY explain the deal and include the link to your post about it. I then usually end my emails with "if you choose to post this deal on your blog, and if I'm the first to tell you about it, a link back would be appreciated!" A word here. Please caution exercise and good judgement in which deals you email and how often you email. If you send an email or more everyday to the same group of bloggers, it might be appropriate you ask them FIRST if it's OK to do so. Let them "opt in," so to speak. Some of the higher trafficked bloggers in particular get hundreds of emails per day, so be mindful that you're sending them only the very best of your posts. I recently had a blogger ask my permission if she could send me her deals. I genuinely appreciated this gesture. It was very thoughtful. She also asked if I could include her on deals I found. Very nice!
Mr. Linkys and Blog Carnivals. Ever see at the end of Money Saving Mom's Walgreens and Rite Aid posts how other bloggers can "link in" to their deals? These are simple and effective ways to bring some new traffic. Without fail, I always see a ton of weekend referrals from Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom after I've written and linked in my drugstore deals. Because so many people do these deals, I have to work hard to make sure I do my best on these and I often spend hours on Saturday assembling these. If you decide to host a giveaway or sweepstakes, there are places you can link to for those as well.
Comments. A simple tactic, be sure to leave comments on other bloggers posts. Don't just self-promote. That's called spam and you run a fair chance of getting your post deleted. What I mean by leaving comments is this – be a part of other blogs' communities. If you see that a blogger missed a grocery store matchup, kindly leave a comment with your find. This will show your ability to find a bargain as well as a willingness to support other bloggers (because their readers can now be in on the deal).
Facebook/Twitter. Be sure to let people know what you're doing, and say it in an interesting way. As a copywriter, I know a thing or two about writing a headline. The idea is you want to create interest, and compel the reader to want to know more. For instance, consider the following two Facebook status updates:
"I saved money using coupons today!"
"Look what I got for less than $5 today!"
If there's a link, my guess is that a reader would be MORE likely to click it in the second scenario than the first. Think about it: there are so many status updates and tweets all day long. You have to be able to write something that stands out. As your blog gets bigger, you might consider setting up a separate "fan" page on Facebook as I've done here.
Those are a few of my most basic ideas….the sort of traffic-growing tactics most bloggers use when starting out. There are others once you get going. Just remember, you don't just want folks dropping into your site and then clicking away. You want them to stick around and keep coming back for more. So your content has got to shine and be compelling.
Fellow bloggers, what other tactics have worked for you to drive in traffic?
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