Do you ever just feel stuck? You want to take your new blog to the next level, but you don’t know how to do that. And you want to grow your traffic and heck, maybe make money. Maybe you want to turn your blog more into a business but just don’t know how to upgrade your blog. What’s worth the investment? What tools are essential for professional bloggers? Today I’m sharing 9 ways to upgrade your blog and get more traffic like a pro.
This post includes affiliate links, which means I may earn a kickback from included links. This comes at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.
1. Study up on SEO
I cannot tell you the massive change my blog saw from learning about SEO, or search engine optimization. In the simplest of terms, there are certain things you can do to your site to make sure sites like Google can find it. So when someone types in “best Destin restaurants,” you can increase your odds of having it pop up on the search engine and get more traffic.
If all this sounds like rocket science to you, fret not. Google doesn’t disclose their exact algorithm, but there are specific tasks you can do today to upgrade your blog. I learned everything I know about SEO from Yoast’s SEO for Beginners free course. This training is dense and beyond helpful. I left the course with specific tips to improve the “findability” of my site such as having a clean sitemap, using headings within posts, including inbound and outbound links, etc.
You need a WordPress Business plan to use their Yoast SEO plugin, which is literally a godsend. However, I still recommend the free course even if you don’t have a Business plan because you can still make changes to your site without the plugin. Get $25 off any WordPress plan.
2. Monetize your site
I remember when I first decided I wanted to make money from my site. I thought to myself, I’m not qualified and no one is going to buy this. I’m just a 19 year-old girl! Wrong, wrong, wrong! You have expertise, you have knowledge, you have know-how. Blogging isn’t often a get rich quick scheme; it takes a lot of time and effort. But the fact that you can make money from doing what you love on your own time online is the coolest!
When I started monetizing my blog, I started out selling my paperback books, and I made money from these self-published books at the ripe age of 19. I’ve found better luck selling digital products such as ebooks as the profit margins and logistics are much simpler.
Maybe creating your own product to sell sounds like something meant for outer space, and that’s completely fine because there are other ways to make money. With certain WordPress plans, you can make a WordAds account where they feature ads on your website. It’s seriously so simple; you legitimately click a button that says turn on ads. There’s no correspondence between advertisers; it’s all done through WordPress. Because it’s so simple and because WordPress is doing you a service, you don’t make much, but it’s something. The payout depends on how many page views and also varies by month, and the payout threshold is $100. No, it’s not a steady form of income, but it’s a way to bring in some revenue without lifting a finger.
I’ve been wanting to try Google AdSense (now that I’m on a WordPress Business plan), but due to the pandemic, they’re extremely backlogged.
Another way to make money is through affiliate ads, which means you promote a product on your blog and then if people click on those links and purchase, you get a commission. I wrote a longer post explaining more about how these work, but some of my favorite affiliate sites are Target’s affiliate program and RewardStyle.
3. Use Pinterest for business
Currently kicking myself for not getting on the Pinterest for Business train sooner because this site is truly a game changer. I went from a personal account with a wedding board and gluten-free board with recipes I’d never tried to a bustling business board with more than 400,000 monthly visitors. And most of that is not from advertising.
I took Jenna Kutcher’s free webinar on how to use Pinterest for Business and saw massive growth. And the best part? You can schedule out content for an entire week in just 30 minutes to an hour. Pinterest is my top driver of traffic, and if you want to upgrade your blog like a pro, this is where you need to invest your time, hands down.
4. Tell your story
This one sounds simple, but sharing my story has resulted in so much more engagement. You might be tempted to believe the myth that people want just the facts whether it’s a city guide, fitness tips or recipes. That’s just not true! The big draw of blogs is their personal touch.
Yes, it’s important to be a clear communicator as a blogger; it’s our job! I remember taking a webinar from Jenna Kutcher, and she said that posting photos of yourself (not just objects, food, landscape, etc.) get more engagement. So I tried it out, and it’s true. People want to connect with a real human. If they just wanted a list of facts, they’d pick up an encyclopedia.
Here’s what this looks like in practice. Make your social media captions stories, introducing yourself, anecdotes, your likes/dislikes, what happened before or after the photo. No need to come up with a clever caption or an ambiguous emoji. Share your story.
This also means writing a kickin’ about page. Tell people what makes you tick in your blog posts, social media and emails. I even wrote a post introducing myself and was pleased with the results. And this Instagram post about grief and graduation had great engagement as well.
5. Take a webinar
One major investment I made to upgrade my blog and take it to the next level was taking webinars. Some are more helpful than others, but they almost always inspire me and get me excited to work on my blog. Webinars give me new ideas and help me grow as a blogger.
Some of my favorite bloggers and entrepreneurs with free trainings and webinars that you’ll want to check out: Helene Sula, Jenna Kutcher, Melyssa Griffin and Kate Rosenow. The great thing about following one girl boss entrepreneur is that you’ll discover another that you like, then another and another. You’ll never have it all figured out as a blogger; always keep learning!
Haven’t started your blog and want help on those initial steps of setting up your site, generating post ideas and promoting them successfully? Sign up for my free video series, Blogging Basics.
6. Schedule your social media posts
How are these blogging gurus on Instagram all the time? How do they always have content to put out? Simple: social media scheduling. There’s no need to be glued to your phone or laptop nonstop. I use Hootsuite to schedule my social media posts, and even Facebook Business and Pinterest Business allow you to schedule posts, too.
When I took Kate Rosenow’s free webinar, I learned about her big focus on batching your tasks. This means instead of taking 20 minutes each day to work on your social media, pick a block of time to schedule for the weeks ahead.
7. Create an email list
It’s no secret that email marketing is where the magic happens. According to WordStream, consumers who make purchases through email spend 138% more than those who don’t receive email offers. Email isn’t just for your Grandpa; it’s a direct way to connect with your readers.
I use MailChimp and have several freebie offers to encourage people to opt in to my email list such as my free online travel budgeting course and my Blogging Basics video series. People are more likely to opt in when they get something in return like a free workbook or webinar instead of just a vague “newsletter.” Think about who you want to target and about an audience who potentially could turn into customers.
I started out with a St. Louis City Guide freebie, which isn’t a bad idea. But my blog focuses on travel and lifestyle; it’s not just about St. Louis. I’ve found better click rates and engagement through my budgeting course and blogging video series. Think about your audience and what you want it to be.
8. Upgrade your theme
Let me preface by saying that a pretty design isn’t everything. If you have nonexistent or poorly written content, a design won’t be able to fix that. The focus of your blog should be providing useful content for your readers, but a sophisticated, clean design can be a fabulous complement to your storytelling and marketing.
This year, I upgraded to a WordPress Business plan, which allows you to import your own themes. I bought a theme from SheShoppes on Etsy, and I am in love. It gave my blog a polished, professional look that I didn’t find in the free themes. And Sheila was so helpful with my individual questions. Etsy has an abundance of themes you can buy, but be sure to check out the reviews. Here’s how it works. You purchase an instant download theme, which is sent as a .zip file. And follow the instructions to customize your site and use all of the fun bells and whistles.
I cannot stress how important it is to do your homework when you purchase a theme. When I redid the website for the law firm where I work, we bought a theme from Envato, and it was an awful experience. The customer service was lackluster, and the files were so out of date and not compatible with the WordPress update. And we paid twice for that theme than the one I purchased for my blog via Etsy. The bottom line is read through the reviews.
9. Channel your aesthetic
And the best part is that you don’t have to be a professional designer to create your own aesthetic. I live and breathe by my Canva account. This site not only has free stock photos and pre-designed templates but it also has the correct dimensions for each medium such as Pinterest graphics, Facebook ads, infographics, etc. And you can save all your designs and then copy them. This gives my blog’s brand consistency and gives it a professional look.
Another game changer for my blog is the Adobe Lightroom app, which is free. All the wins! This app allows you to create your own presets or buy them from other creators, and these presets allow you to create a cohesive look or aesthetic for the photos on your blog and social media. You truly don’t need a fancy camera to create gorgeous photos. Phones today take incredible, high-resolution photos that you can use on your blog.
I totally understand that stuck feeling when you’re in those early stages of starting a blog. You’ve been wondering how to upgrade your blog to make it professional and to get more traffic. With these 9 blogging tips and tricks, you’ll take your blog to the next level and grow your traffic like a pro.