When I first started blogging in 2012, you would have laughed. My first post was a picture of the sunset in San Diego and happened to be one of my first pictures on Instagram.

It was too gorgeous not to share, so I created a blog on WordPress.com and published it. From there, blogging became a sporadic habit, firstly because I love writing, and secondly, I was curious to see how many likes and followers I could gain. The more the better, right?

As I started reading other blogs, I realized my beginner blog wasn’t as polished and professional as it could be. The wheels in my head started turning and I began to think I needed some sort of education to fix my blog.

If you’re feeling the same struggles with your blog, like it’s not up to par or there’s more you could do to market it, read on for 10 ways to improve your blog.

Listen to your audience before choosing your topic

If you want your blog post to be an instant hit, you need to write what people want to hear.

Wait…what does that mean?

Well, the reason this blog post came about was during lunch. I was chatting with a coach about her business and she asked me: “What tips would you recommend for bloggers?”

Although there are several blog posts about blogging and getting started, she wanted to hear from me specifically.

Someone else asked me about landing page conversions and how to improve them.

Members of a writerly Facebook Group I’m in asked several questions about planning a book launch.

A new freelancer wrote about having a hard time marketing their work and needed to create a marketing plan.

All of these blog posts are now live on my site, because I listened online and in person, to the digital marketing related pain points people have.

That’s not to say you can’t write the blog posts you want to write, in fact, you should!

I’m a huge fan of writing for yourself, and it’s the motto for my fantasy novels: write the book you want to read.

Since blogging is vastly different from writing a novel, you want to ensure you are listening to your audience and writing both the content they want, and the content you already know they need.

Use keywords

If you’re a newbie to search engine optimization (SEO), it’s a way of using keywords to allow your blog posts to filter to the top when someone searches for a particular word or phrase.

Here’s now to maximize keywords:

  • Use them in your blog post title. For example, the keyword for this post is “improve blog” and yep, it’s super generic, but that’s the keyword.
  • Use the keyword in the first sentence and sprinkled throughout your blog text.

To be honest, I sometimes find it awkward to include the keyword in the first sentence of my blog post, so I skip it.

I use the plugin Yoast SEO to ensure my keywords are on point. You can also use OnPage.org to ensure your blog is in the best shape possible. They even have a free step by step course to help you use SEO to improve your traffic.

Incorporate high-resolution images

One of my huge fails with my early blog posts was not using visuals. Photos were hard to find, they weren’t free and there was that whole copyright issue.

If this is your thinking, here are my favorite sites to find copyright free images to use on the blog. You may see some familiar ones as you browse through.

Images are imperative to your blog because of social media. If you have a catchy, fun headline and an appealing photo that goes along with it, you’re golden and well on your way to gaining more readers and shares. Here are the various images I recommend:

  • Include images that will be seen on Facebook and Twitter – these are the horizontal images at the top of my blog with the name of the blog post. You’ll notice all of mine use my brand colors. This wasn’t always the case, sometimes it was a quote or simply a plain image, you’ll need to determine what will work best for your audience.
  • Include an image that can be pinned to Pinterest – you’ll notice not all of my posts have a vertical image for Pinterest. While I’m not a huge fan of Pinterest yet and haven’t figured out how to get 100,000 page views from it, people do pin my blog posts. So, I’ll let them work on getting that traffic for me by providing the correctly sized image.

Improve Your Blog

How do I create these images? Use Canva.com, it’s a lifesaver and has saved me hours of time and energy creating visuals.

Add your own watermarks

Can anyone steal your images? Yes, they can. All it takes is for them to right-click and hit “Save Image.”

This isn’t something I’m too worried about, but if you are, especially if you’re a photographer and use your own images, make sure you watermark them!

This can be as simple as adding text over your image. You’ll notice most of the photos on my blog say “Angela J. Ford” or “www.angelajford.com” somewhere on them.

This is to remind people where the original post came from, and if the photo isn’t clickable, they can at least run a Google Search to find my blog.

Make your social media buttons easy to see

One of the biggest mistakes I see, especially on Squarespace sites (sorry Squarespace fans!), is that social media buttons are hard to see. If you want your blog posts to be shared, you need to make it a no-brainer for your readers.

Currently, I have social media buttons at the beginning and end of each blog posts. If someone is reading it, the logical conclusion is to leave a comment or click one of the social media buttons to share it! These buttons are big, beautiful and easy to see on both a desktop computer or smartphone.

The second mistake I often see is, when I Tweet out your blog post, your Twitter handle (for example @aford21) isn’t included. This allows you to know when your posts are being shared, plus, most social media sharing buttons allow you to add your Twitter handle.

Not sure what plugin to use for social media buttons? If you’re using WordPress I recommend using Monarch by Elegant Themes.

Add Click to Tweet links throughout your content

One of the best ways to get people to share your content for you, is to make it dead simple. We’re all busy, but if you read something fantastic and all it takes is the click of a button to share it, you’re likely to do it.

Click to Tweet is one of the best ways to do so and it’s free. If you’re using WordPress, you can simply install the plugin Click to Tweet. If not, go to www.ClicktoTweet.com and sign in with Twitter. Regardless of whether you have a huge audience on Twitter, this is worth it because others will Tweet your blog post for you.

Add email signup options in the sidebar or below your blog posts

Email lists are a way to ensure you have the details of your biggest fans, so you can contact them at any time. Regardless of whether you have 1 person on your list or 100,000, you should be sending out emails.

If you’re a blogger and simply want readers to consume content, send out an email when a new post goes live. I don’t know about you, but I don’t constantly keep up with all the blogs I follow to see when a new post is published. An email in my inbox is the quickest way to get my attention (other than tagging me on Twitter or Instagram).

If you want the attention of your readers, or if you have a special incentive for joining your email list (a free guide, a checklist, or promotional offer), feature it!

Sidebars are the perfect place to feature email options, ads, and affiliate links. However, if you aren’t a fan of sidebars, don’t fear, you can easily add an opt-in box at the end of your blog post.

You’ll notice throughout my blog I alternate on using both. If you want an easy way to make your email optins beautiful, I recommend using Bloom by Elegant Themes. I use it on my fantasy website, you can preview it here: The Four Worlds Series

Currently, all of my email optins and landing pages were created using MailerLite.

Promote your blog posts more than once

Have you ever published a blog post, sent out an email, shared on every social media channel and called it day? Well, that’s the #1 way to cause your blog traffic to sink.

Last year I discovered CoSchedule, a content calendar and sharing tool that keeps me accountable to sharing my blog posts more than once. When I started implementing their recommendations, I saw my blog traffic jump! Here’s what I suggest:

  • Share your blog post on every social media channel when you publish it.
  • Send an email to your email list announcing the new post – or just include the entire post in the email.
  • Email or tag any influencers you featured in your blog post. For example, my book launch guide features several editors and designers, so I sent them messages on Facebook and Twitter to let them know. Of course, they loved that and shared it with their audience. Winning!
  • Schedule your blog post to be reshared the same day after publish, 7 days later, 14 days later and 30 days later.
  • Reset your schedule every month
  • If you’re using Twitter, the hashtags #MondayBlogs and #SundayBlogShare will help your posts get more views

If you’re worried about sounding repetitive with your blog posts, change the caption. You don’t have to say “10 Ways to Improve Your Blog” every single time. Try something new like:

  • Are you sharing your blog posts more than once? Find out why you should:
  • Not getting the engagement you want with your blog? Try these tips:
  • Improve your blog with these 10 tips:

Asking questions, sharing a quote or making a statement are all way to differentiate the content you share.

Collaborate with other bloggers

If you haven’t read my blog post on the power of community, you should! It’s imperative to ask other people to help you meet your goals. When it comes to improving your blog presence, don’t be afraid to ask to guest blog on other sites.

If you don’t like writing for others, allow them to guest blog on your site, or become a guest on their podcast. There are several ways to collaborate with other bloggers and business owners, and most of the time, it benefits both of you.

One of my favorites is getting podcast interviews because I enjoy talking a little too much.

I’ve created a Media page so it’s easy for podcasters to find out more about me.

If you’re interested in doing the same, view my example here: www.angelajford.com/media

Use links to your advantage

Ever wanted to know when others are talking about you? I do! I created a Google Alert so anytime someone mentions my name or book series, I get an email with the details. Several companies use this technique to monitor their online reputation, and it’s a tactic you can use to your advantage. If you blog about a product or service, make sure you link to it, this helps your search engine optimization (SEO). You can also tag those companies on social media to let them know you mentioned them in your latest post.

Another way to start bringing in passive revenue is to use affiliate links in your blog posts. If you’re talking about a product or service that’s relevant to your audience, include the link and make some money off of it. I’ve heard of people making thousands a month off affiliate links. While I’m just getting started in this area, I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Check out the Resources page for all of my affiliate links for products and services I love and use every single day.

Well, that’s a wrap. What top tip are you using to improve your blog? What recommendations do you have? Share in the comments below!

Want more? Take the Blogging Bombshell Course, perfect for bloggers who need in-depth, step by step guidance!

 

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