Blogging is a process. One that does have a learning curve. Most new bloggers start off by focusing on many of the wrong things and attempting every traffic generation and monetization strategy that one could find instead of focusing like a laser on building the identify of the blog and committing to a single strategy. I know I made these mistakes during the early stages of my blog, 20smoney.com.
My Early Days
I focused on all the wrong areas during my first year of blogging. I tried to find the coolest, most expensive theme (and I did). I implemented every type of silly monetization strategy such as banner stripe ads and I even had a pop-up box designed to entice visitors to sign up for my email list. The result? A mediocre website at best with no real purpose.
Despite some level of growth, the blog did not grow nearly as much as I would have hoped. The amount of work that i was putting in was not translating into sufficient growth. I “hit the wall” like many new bloggers do.
A Renewed Focus
I contemplating a complete halt to my blogging activities just because I wasn’t seeing the return on my time. Rather than quit, I decided to try out a drastic change. The first thing to go was my theme. I got rid of the magazine-like, fancy theme with moving featured posts and images, and went to a bare-bones theme. The reason? I wanted my readers to visit my site for the content; therefore, I needed to have the theme be about the content and nothing else. The results were incredible.
As you can see from the below graphic, the immediate impact of the theme change was a huge drop in my bounce rate. From averaging over 60% rate, I took the bounce rate down to the 4-5% range instantaneously. This was step number 1 in taking my blog to the next level. If people don’t last more than a single page view, it’s pretty tough to grow a website.
The next step was to understand my objective. Was I trying to create a real interactive community of readers who had a similar interest (in my case, finance)? Or, was I simply trying to gain search traffic and get ad clicks? If you haven’t answered this question yourself, you need to. I decided that it was time to focus on quality and gaining a real readership versus short term search traffic and Adsense numbers.
I put an emphasis on quality content and became re-energized. Why would someone want to visit my blog? I ask myself this every day. If I can’t come up with a good answer, then obviously, my blog will not go anywhere. Similar to step one, the results have been excellent. The traffic growth which I document each month with a monthly blogging update, has been encouraging.
The below graphic shows the steady increase in traffic i’ve been receiving mainly due to my renewed focus on quality content.
Please note that January’s traffic is through January 11, 2010. I’m on pace for my best month yet.
To sum up my advice, it would be to have a fantastic understanding of your objective as a blogger. What are you trying to accomplish? When you can answer that, you should be focused intensely on achieving that goal. Do not dabble in multiple strategies or try out a new approach every month. Determine your own approach for your blog and commit to it. If you do, you will see nice results.