I admit, I’ve been so lazy.
Sometimes I look at my Bloglovin’ feed and see blogs that started after I have get major recognition and amazing collaborations, that I could only dream of. They improve their photography style, their blog design, equipment and lighting, and here I am with my 8-year-old first generation DSLR camera and dollar store props.
My friend, let’s call her Emma [name made up for privacy, she knows who she is], gets 1 million pageviews a month. That’s One. Million. Pageviews, people.
I won’t lie, a couple times I felt that little spark of jealousy whispering in the back of my mind “My reviews are so much better, why does she have one million pageviews and I don’t?”
“Because she works her butt off, and you don’t, dummy. Besides, they’re not better, they’re just different. You do you and stop worrying about other people”, answers my much more mature common sense.
It’s easy to fall prey to that jealousy spiral when you compare yourself to bloggers who get ahead. But stop and think for a second, what did you do to catch up? I didn’t do jack.
It’s selfish to wish for the world to slow down just so you could keep up.
While it’s true that blogging is not a race, and none of us are really competing, when you want to achieve something that your peers have, you kinda need to work for it like they did. And trust me, work they did, we just don’t see the back end of it.
Luckily, you can totally channel that negative energy into something good and productive. Plain and simple, here are 8 tips on how to turn jealousy into success. By following these basic steps you will definitely grow your audience and increase pageviews. There are more advanced ways, too, but I promise you, that you will have your hands full with these for a while, so don’t take on more than you can handle.
1. POST CONSISTENTLY
Whether you can commit to one blog post a week, or seven, make sure it’s consistent. Stick to your schedule to a tee. Google doesn’t care how often you post, as long as you do it regularly [a couple times a week is best, I hear].
Don’t end up on page 15. Nobody goes to page 15!
2. WRITE LONG BLOG POSTS
Easier said than done, but here’s the thing… The absolute majority of top ranked articles on Google have one thing in common – they are over 1,000 words long, and over half of them are 2,000 words or longer. The goal for Google is to make sure the most helpful results always show up at the top, and it sees longer articles as potentially more insightful. Makes sense now? FYI, Yoast SEO uses 300 words as a benchmark. Don’t use that as your goal, all a 300-word blog post will accomplish is make sure your content is indexed at all. In reality, you will probably end up on page 15 or something, and nobody goes to page 15. Unless you are, of course, the very first person on the Internet to cover something, then your 300-word article might be listed at the top.
3. REDESIGN YOUR WEBSITE
I am not going to tell you that you need a cookie cutter white website that looks like a million others, unless that’s you want, which is totally ok, you do you. Regardless of your platform [Blogger, WordPress, or other] and personal aesthetic, always keep your audience in mind when choosing the final look of your web space.
Important things to remember:
- Clean up your sidebar. This can mean many different things to many different people, but if you look at it and some widget or banner stands out as an eyesore, I think it’s the sign that it has to go.
- Does your About Me page need an update? Make sure you introduce yourself to your readers and that the section is easily accessible from the homepage. We’re all nosy and love learning more about people behind our favorite blogs 😉 PS: Did you know I used to be a movie actress? Well, if you read my About Me page, you will know that and some other fun facts 😉
- Remove CAPTCHA. We all hate spam, but there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to leave an insightful comment on a blog and repeatedly failing to enter the captcha correctly. Besides, everybody hates trying to figure out whether that squiggly thing is an S or a 5, an uppercase i or lowercase L etc. I swear, the amount of spam comments you might get if you remove captcha is miniscule. In the end it will be worth it, since it leads to a more satisfying reader experience.
- Make sure your theme is responsive. What that means is that it should look good on desktop and mobile. Why is that important? If you look at your Google Analytics, or another analytics tool, you’ll notice that most likely the majority of your pageviews come from mobile devices. More people are reading blogs on their phones than ever before, and you’ll be wise to cater to the majority of your readership. Besides, Google ranks content from responsive websites higher in search for mobile users.
- Don’t forget the search bar. It’s really annoying when you want to search the blog for a specific review or article, and can’t find the search button. [I kinda need to work on that, because mine is hard to find on mobile.]
4. INVEST IN A GOOD CAMERA & LENS
Maybe 10 years ago the blogging scene was much more laid back. You could shoot photos in the bathroom with dim or yellowish lights, and nobody would think anything of it. Nowadays, visuals are everything. Unless you have a high end smartphone that can take high quality photos, you pretty much need a DSLR. I know, you probably read over a dozen guides about this, and their writers kinda wiggle on the topic that you don’t necessarily need one, but it’s just nice to have because it adds a professional touch to your web space yadda yadda… I can honestly tell you that a good camera and lens were some of the best blog investments for me, so if you can see yourself still blogging 3-4 years from now, a DSLR would be a nice thing to buy. They can be pretty expensive, but if you do your research, limit those pumpkin lattes, bring your lunches to work, wait for tax return, and save up, you can get a used one on eBay pretty quickly. Yup, I also can think of a thousand other things I would rather spend a thousand bucks on, but it’s one step that I personally think is game-changing for a blogger.
Here’s my camera, I had it for 8 years, it still works just fine and I am pretty happy with the quality of my photos. However, it lacks several features that I would love to have, like a remote so I could shoot photos at a distance, and a flip screen so I can actually see what I look like in selfies instead of having to take a thousand of them and then find ones that turned out well. You will always have to pay extra for convenience and for newer models, but you can totally get by with an older camera.
…a good photo is 50% lighting, 30% camera, and 20% luck.
Five things to keep in mind:
- Shoot in manual mode. // While automatic preset might be tempting for beginners, it’s best to sit down and learn how to operate your camera in a manual mode. Even if you just use your phone, most camera phones have advanced settings that can produce pictures with amazing clarity and depth of field. Google your model and watch some Youtube videos to figure out the best way to use your gadget.
- Find the light. // I often joke that a good photo is 50% lighting, 30% camera, and 20% luck. Jokes aside, any photographer will tell you that light makes all the difference. Well-lit photos will be brighter, sharper, and overall much better-looking. For a long time I used to shoot by a large sliding glass door, which works just fine on a nice sunny day. However, eventually I wanted to stop relying on sunny days and bought several studio lights that now take up a corner in my office. I recommend starting with this one, it imitates daylight and works for many photography styles, from beauty products to food recipes.
- Edit your photos. // I can count on one hand the times when my photos didn’t need any retouching. Most of the time I want to boost contrast, add brightness, or make the images a tad sharper. Picmonkey is a great website where you can edit photos and create collages for free, but if you really want to up your blogging game, Photoshop is your best friend.
- Style your photos. // Back in the day pictures that showcase products on a plain white background were all the rage. Nowadays, it’s all about carefully styled shots. Even though marble, fashion books, dainty trays, candles, and flowers are still the most popular props, you could really let your personality shine here and use whatever your heart desires. Now I’m sure I will get some comments that I am basically pushing a certain aesthetic on you. Well, it’s a yes and a no. The goal here is to increase pageviews, and to increase pageviews you need to have mass appeal. Right now the most popular images [most shared, pinned, loved on Instagram etc] are the ones that have been styled. That’s all I was trying to say.
- Rule of thirds. // When taking your photos, imagine them in a 3×3 grid. The intersections of those lines will be the focal points of your image, so place the objects you are photographing strategically.
5. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Sprouting from the tips above, it’s better to produce a few well-written, long, insightful articles with beautiful imagery weekly than many little ones every day. I used to write daily because I read somewhere that it’s going to increase pageviews, but all it did was flood my site with low quality content, and my traffic numbers took a sharp dive into the “Page 15” abyss. I recently scaled down to 3 posts a week, which eased the pressure tremendously and gave me more time to really make each one of them into something helpful. Guess what? My pageviews finally went up.
Make sure the SEO checkmark is green on every blog post.
6. IMPROVE SEO
If you are on WordPress, you probably have Yoast SEO plugin installed [if you don’t, then you need it ASAP – it’s life-changing!]. Make sure the SEO checkmark is green on every blog post you write before you hit publish. If you are on Blogger, you just need to remember that the keyword you want to rank for must be mentioned several times throughout the blog post, including the very first paragraph, in the page title, and page URL. It also helps to add alt text to images with all relevant keywords, Google loves those. Here’s a tutorial explaining how to do this on both WordPress and Blogger.
7. UTILIZE PINTEREST
I really wish I had jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon sooner, because the most recent update made it harder to get discovered. I didn’t say impossible, though! Right now I use Tailwind, and I could definitely be more diligent about utilizing all of its features, because when I do, I see immediate results [~200 new followers a week]. On any given month, at least 30-40% of all my traffic comes from Pinterest, and it’s so stupid of me to neglect my boards. Tailwind scans your boards and followers, determines the best times for maximum exposure, and automatically posts for you, so you just need to load it up once a week or so and enjoy the benefits. Psst! Here’s a free one month trial for you.
At least 30-40% of all my traffic comes from Pinterest. Don’t neglect your boards!
Here are some other helpful Pinterest practices that will bring in new people to your blog:
- You need to have a visible Pin It button on your website. Here’s how to do it on Blogger and WordPress.
- Make sure you have rich pins enabled. My girl Mindy has a great article on how to do it on Blogger and WordPress.
- Create high quality, vertical images with easy to read text overlay. Those do best on Pinterest because they take up a lot of real estate space in search results.
- Join group boards to increase exposure, but be mindful of the board rules. Don’t be a spammer! Here’s a list to get you started.
- Pin daily, and delete old pins that perform poorly.
8. PROMOTE OLD CONTENT
You worked so hard on that blog post, and maybe promoted it once on each of your social media channels, only to have it buried and never seen again. With all the recent updates, only 10% of your followers see your social media content. Every time I publish something new, I use Buffer to schedule a re-promote one week, one month, and two months into the future for those readers who might have missed this article. Buffer is easily the best social media management tool I invested my money in, I hope they never close up shop.
Now, take another look at the list above and think how much time it would take you to realistically follow each of those steps. A lot, right? When you fully comprehend the scale of the monstrous work that goes into growing a successful blog, that’s when you will really appreciate the girls and guys who work hard for it every single day. Emma is a rockstar for amassing all that traffic; she is my inspiration and #goals of what Glamorable could be if I stopped looking for excuses every darn day.
I hope this post didn’t come off as patronizing, although as adults we forgot the benefit of occasional scolding. I needed someone to tell me all of this to get me out of this slump, so I basically talked to myself here. Instead of keeping it as an inner monologue I decided to share it with you guys, in hopes that in can be the wake up call you were looking for. I’m definitely not trying to say this is what every blogger should be doing. But if your goal is to seriously up your blogging game [it is mine!], let 2017 be the year when we start being more proactive and actually put in a few extra hours every week to achieve it.
P.S.: HUGE thanks to Paula from Thirteen Thoughts for her super helpful tutorial on creating Pinterest-optimized graphics! I used her tips to make the one above.
What are your blog goals for 2017? Did you ever feel jealous of another blogger’s success? Let me know in the comments below!
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