Today as my WordPress site reached 200,000 hits, I received another email from a fellow blogger asking me advice on how to improve their site. I am now briefly sharing the secrets of my success which I have learned through trial and error since September 2009 when I started Scenic Route Snapshots.
Use WordPress, not BlogSpot: I have never used BlogSpot, but I’ve noticed the more successful bloggers use WordPress, like Stuff White People Like and 1,000 Awesome Things; the authors of both of those sites received book deals based on their blogs and the books have gone on to be top sellers. I believe that WordPress offers the best layouts and the best tools. I love how I can easily see my top posts each day along with my top searched items through Google; that way I can capitalize on the things I write about the best.
Write nearly daily: Now that I have written just under 500 posts here on my site and have covered so many different subjects, the chances of anyone typing in any noun into Google and stumbling upon my site are pretty good. Right now if you type in “banana” or “red panda”, you’ll find me easily. Not only does writing daily increase the quality of my own writing, but it also increases readership, in the likeness of paying to have your name in the drawing 20 times as opposed to all the others who just paid for one time.
Use too many pictures: Yes, I meant to say that. Use too many pictures. At first I wanted the satisfaction of knowing that readers who stumbled upon my site were doing so simply because of the quality of my writing. But I was really being unfair to myself, because who would buy a magazine if it didn’t have an attention grabbing picture on the cover and constant pictures throughout its content? Pictures are the #1 way to market your blog. Even more so than facebook and Twitter, I have found. Out of my 800 facebook friends, when I publish a new post and it shows up on my facebook wall (I have linked WordPress to facebook and Twitter), at best I may get 40 hits just from facebook. However, a good picture in a post can easily bring me 100 hits daily for months. My rule for pictures is roughly “one large picture per every 12 lines of typing”.
Use too many words in your titles: For the most part, my more popular posts contain more than six words and consist of at least two nouns. In 2010, my most popular post was What Wile E. Coyote, Red Pandas, and U2 All Have in Common: They Still Haven’t Found What They’re Looking For. While the content of that post was a bit abstract and even spiritual, the title was as cut and dry as I could make it. Interestingly, that post was published in July 2010 (halfway through the year) and still managed to garner over 10,000 views by January 1, 2011 when I posted my Best of 2010 blog featuring it as my #1 most popular post of the year.
Write different series: As you find yourself writing about the same topics, turn them into a collection, then into their own page where readers can easily access them at the top of your page. Take my dad from day one series, for example. I literally have dozens of different posts in that one series. Typically, if a person is going to read one of those posts, they are likely to read at least several more. That way, I’m turning one hit into seven.
Write about interesting stuff from an interesting perspective: Easier said than done, right? Either you have the talent or you don’t. However, the fact that you are aspiring or beginning to write a blog says this about you: Like me, you find enough time in the day to write; meaning you probably have enough going through your head to write about; meaning you probably have writing talent. To help you further, I’ve been documenting my viewership milestones into a series. I recommend you take the time to read it, as it includes other details to help you have a popular blog:
Nick Shell’s “10,000 Hits” series:
Being Down to Earth, Yet Never Really Touching the Ground: My First 10,000 Hits on WordPress
Being Original, Yet Never Really Breaking New Ground: My First 20,000 Hits on WordPress
Being Engaging, Yet Never Really Standing on Dangerous Ground: My First 30,000 Hits on WordPress
Being Excessive and Eventually Finding Coming Ground: My First 40,000 Hits on WordPress
Being Active in the Blogging World Yet Hanging Out in the Background: My First 50,000 Hits on WordPress
If you have any other questions or want my advice on writing a WordPress blog, feel free to ask and I will be glad to help you.