This is the third in a series on the results from the Christian Blogger Survey. We are looking at the top 4 struggles identified in the survey and how to work through them. The #1 struggle was increasing traffic for Christian bloggers.
Like most things in online ministry, there is no single magic bullet that will solve all of your traffic woes. The ads may promise you can go from 0 – 50,000 page views in a month with the perfect Pinterest strategy, or a guest post on a big influencer’s site, or using a top-dollar, optimized social sharing strategy.
The reality for most bloggers, and particularly those writing primarily Biblical inspiration, is that increasing traffic for Christian bloggers is a result of many intentional steps in the right direction. For faith-based bloggers, it’s also important that your traffic-boosting actions are consistent with your values and the tone of your blog.
There are surely thousands of blog posts, courses and ebooks about increasing traffic. It can all be very overwhelming and choosing which ones to try can seem like shooting in the dark. So how do you know where to invest your time, money and energy?
Understanding the purpose of each strategy is a good place to start. Building traffic falls into three buckets:
- Building Relationships
- Building Your Home Base
- Building Your Authority
When you have strong relationships with your audience and other bloggers, your home base (blog) is designed to keep people on your site, and you have established yourself as an authority in your niche, traffic will naturally flow. And for most faith-based writers, building in these areas feels a whole lot more authentic than just doing stuff to increase meaningless numbers.
Building in the right order is also important. If we try incorporating more advanced techniques without a foundation to support it, our efforts will be for naught. We need to clean up the house before we invite new people to visit.
While there are tons of different strategies to put in place, I’m highlighting nine in this two-part post. The Step 1 strategies will focus on generating small, dependable traffic streams while we ensure that our home base is in good shape. By Step 3, we’ll shift to bigger traffic streams. In this post, I’ll cover some tips to Build Relationships. In my next post, we’ll fill out the rest of the table to Build Your Home Base and Build Your Authority. I’ve also included links to other helpful posts on each topic.
|Build Relationships||Build Your Home Base||Build Your Authority|
|Step 2||Developing a social media strategy|
|Step 3||Creative collaborations|
Step 1 – Link-Ups
Link-ups, linky parties, blog hops … whatever you call them, they are sometimes the bread and butter of small-ish bloggers. Even the very best link-ups are not going to generate a ton of traffic directly and fulfilling the requirements of commenting on other linkers is time-consuming. So depending on traffic from link-ups is not a scalable strategy for long-term traffic growth.
But participating in link-ups is a valuable way to build relationships with other bloggers in your niche and expose your blog to new audiences. Get the most out of link-ups by:
- Experiment with lots of link-ups, then pare down to just a few. I have 6 – 8 linkups that I participate in regularly, depending on the content of my post. Even that is pushing the limits of what I can manage.
- Keep a list or spreadsheet of days and start times of your favorite linkups. Unless the hostess has set it to scramble the posts in random order, the posts at the top of the list will generally get more traffic than those farther down.
- For the thumbnail picture, experiment with either a photo of yourself or a feature image with the title of your post on it. There are some posts in a link up that read because I recognize the bloggers profile picture and I know I love her content. There are others I read because I am drawn by the title image. Just be sure the words on your image are big enough to read when it is a small thumbnail on the page.
- Follow the rules, but be strategic. It is a huge no-no to link up and not comment on others’ posts. And some require you to comment on the post right before yours. But faced with 100+ posts to choose from, this is a good opportunity to do some research in your niche. What are people writing about? What questions around a popular topic are not being answered? Who is doing really cool things that you can connect with?
In the Reference Table, I have linked a post from my friend, Debbie Williams, who keeps a huge list of link-ups for Christian bloggers.
Step 2 – Develop a social media strategy
I know, I know. This is a huge thing. And it is another thing that can become a major time suck. But it is one of the most important ways you can build your relationship with your audience. And there are whole courses devoted to mastering this one thing, so there is no way I can cover it all here. In the Reference Table, I have linked to an amazing series on social media for faith-based bloggers from my friend Kim Stewart, but I will add a few tips of my own:
- Focus on one platform, get good at it, and then add another one.
- Hire someone to help. If you can’t afford ongoing social media help, at least schedule one session with someone who can develop a strategy for you to follow. Kim is my go-to social media gal, but there are several others in the comments on this post.
- Keep it simple to start, or you will get frustrated and quit. You can add more advanced strategies after you have developed some good social media management habits.
- Try different scheduling tools until you find one that works for you. Right now, I am using Buffer for Twitter, native scheduling in Facebook and Tailwind for Pinterest. I’m sure there is a more efficient way, but that is working for me right now.
If you need something easy to get started, enter your info to download this monthly Facebook schedule with an idea for every day.
Step 3 – Creative Collaborations
This has been my favorite way to grow my traffic. Working with other bloggers is fun for me and helpful for our audiences. Everyone wins when we share with each other. Don’t be afraid to approach someone you perceive as “bigger” than you. I have found that the Christian blogging community is the most generous group of people I know and they are usually up for something, especially if it is fun, unique and not a lot of work! Swapping guest posts is a pretty standard collaboration, but here are some more creative ideas to help you stand out:
- Giveaways – Gather a group of blogging besties and contribute towards an amazing prize that is directly related to your niche
- Social Media Takeover – Provide posts for each other’s social media (one or more platforms) to introduce yourselves to the other audience
- Joint Webinars – This takes a bit of planning and some tech savvy, but it is so much fun, and it can be used long after the live webinar is over
- Bundles – Bundle your products or services with another blogger and create a special offer for your audiences.
In the Reference Table, I linked a post from Summer Telban about the importance of collaborations with other bloggers.
That’s a whole lot of stuff to chew on, so we’ll stop right there! If you are ready for more, hop over to Part 2 of this post, where we talk about how to Build Your Home Base and Build Your Authority to increase traffic for Christian bloggers.