WordPress Bloggers: December is the Best Time to Check Your Stats

 

ANNUAL BLOG STATS

If you have a WordPress blog, you’re probably used to checking your daily stats.

There are also weekly, monthly, and yearly stats.

December is the best time of year to check your annual stats because the current year is almost complete.

The yearly stats offer some insight that you don’t really see in the daily or weekly stats.

Visit your WordPress stats right now (in another window) if you wish to follow along as I suggest what you might look for.

I have WordPress open on a browser on my PC. Already logged in, I click the (W) My Sites link near the top left corner of the screen.

Next I select Stats on the left. Then I change from Days to Years near the top right.

My screen presently says Traffic (the alternative is Insights).

Following are some things that you can learn from your annual stats.

SEARCH ENGINGE TRAFFIC

If you get regular search engine traffic, you’re more likely to see significant frequencies for a few search terms. When you look at daily stats, most of the search terms that led to your blog are hidden. But when you add this up for the whole year, you might see a few search terms with multiple hits. It takes about 1000 views on average to get one search term that isn’t hidden, so if you get tens of thousands of views per year, there is a chance of seeing some search terms here, and if you get 100,000 views per year, you might see something significant. (But if most of your views don’t come from search engines, you’ll need more views.)

The most popular search term to reach my blog turns out to be “Amazon.” I see that 35 people reached my blog after searching for “Amazon.” Plus all the times that happened, but the search term was hidden. With 69,477 unknown search terms, it probably happened many more than 35 times.

Even if you only see a search term listed once, it may still be helpful. One of the search terms on my list had a typo. I searched my website for that typo and discovered that same typo in one of my articles. My first inclination was to correct the typo, but then I thought: Wait a minute, somebody accidentally discovered my website because of that typo. So I let that one go. (I wouldn’t make a typo on purpose, of course, but if something good came out of one of my mistakes, I’ll take it.)

HELPFUL POSTS

In December, your yearly stats show you which were the most popular posts and pages for the year. When you check your daily or weekly stats, the top-performing posts and pages can vary. At the end of the year, this can help you assess which of your posts are popular over a long period of time.

Some of my most popular posts for 2017 were written 2-3 years ago. When I write an article, it gets a lot of traffic for a few days, but then the traffic usually drops off. But once in a while, the article starts to gain traffic through search engines. Such articles can remain popular for a long period of time. Your yearly stats can help you find articles that receive regular search engine traffic. If you know which of your posts are more successful long-term, it can help you have more success in the future. Spend some time thinking about why those posts are attracting more search engine traffic than your other posts. There is a valuable lesson to learn here.

WHERE IS EVERYONE COMING FROM?

Check your referrers. In 2017, I had over 150,000 views come from search engines. Over 90% of my blog traffic comes from search engines. If you write helpful, unique content-rich articles, you can net a lot of search engine traffic, which can really help your blog grow long-term.

If you feed your WordPress blog into Twitter and Facebook, you may also see significant traffic coming from your other social media followings. (Note: If you do feed your WordPress blog into both Twitter and Facebook, don’t also feed your Twitter and Facebook posts into one another or back into WordPress—or you run the risk of seeing double or triple posts on at least one social media outlet.) A couple thousand visitors reached my blog through Facebook, but not as many reached my blog from Twitter.

How many people are reading your posts in the WordPress Reader? This stat shows you how many of your followers are reading your posts in the Reader. If you allow people to follow your blog via email (which I do), then not all of your followers will read your posts in the Reader.

Who are your most helpful rebloggers? I owe a huge THANK YOU to TheStoryReadingApeBlog, whose reblogs have generated much traffic to my articles. If you’re an author or blogger, you should follow the StoryReadingApe (a different Chris), who is an amazing supporter of authors and bloggers. If you’re an author, check out the StoryReadingApe’s submission guidelines. I have many other helpful rebloggers (too many to mention everyone, and I apologize if your blog didn’t make my list), many of which are also author supporters: The list includes NicholasRossis, Smorgasboard, Don Massenzio, Kim’s Author Support Blog, and many others.

There’s something similar that can be as effective as a reblog. Sometimes, another blogger writes an article that refers to your post. If that author’s article generates much traffic, and especially if it happens to arouse interest in your website, you can get some helpful traffic this way. As an example, check out the following article by Derek Murphy at Creativindie.com: “How much does the average author earn publishing their book” (it’s an interesting article, by the way). If you read that article, you will see that he quotes an article from my blog (he contacted me in advance of posting the article by the way). I actually received hundreds of visitors to my website from that one article. So I owe another huge THANK YOU to Derek Murphy for that.

When I clicked the View All link at the bottom of Referrers, I discovered a very long list of the many ways that visitors reach my blog. It’s both fascinating and helpful to read that list. I actually had significant traffic reach my blog from the KDP community forum, Kindle Boards, Goodreads, and many other author support forums. (I don’t participate in discussions at Goodreads, and have hardly ever used Kindle Boards, but I was fortunate enough that a few of my articles were referenced during authors’ discussions. It’s cool that some authors know about my blog, and found it helpful enough to mention while talking to other authors.)

CLICKETY CLICK

Do people click on links on your blog? The yearly stats show you which links are getting clicked on the most.

Thousands of people click on a link to Amazon.com on my site.  Of course, there are many reasons for this. I’ve written several articles about various features on Amazon, and sometimes link to a specific page on Amazon that has information about that feature or contains a download for a free Amazon tool. Remember, several people reach my website after searching for “Amazon” in a search engine. They probably reached one of my articles about an Amazon feature or tool, and then clicked on a link in that article to check the feature or tool out at Amazon. But a few visitors may click on a link to one of my books or my Amazon author page. And I’ve had a few guest posts that featured other authors, so hopefully a few of those clicks take readers to their books and their author pages.

Regarding reblogs, under Clicks you can find out how effective your own reblogs of other bloggers are. Or if you reference other websites in your posts, you can see how many of your visitors and followers check out those websites.

INSIGHTS

Now switch from Traffic to Insights, near the top left (but not in the left sidebar). You can find more information here.

Check out your Tags & Categories. This is basically how your blog looks from the outside (perhaps to search engines). Those are the topics you have written about most frequently this year, based on the tags and categories that you’ve used. Is this how you want your blog to be categorized? If not, it might impact how you use tags and categories from now on.

Also check out Comments by Authors. These are the valuable people who have given life to your blog, making your articles interactive, and who have evidently enjoyed communicating with you and/or were really interested in your posts (or in you, perhaps). I owe a huge THANK YOU to Don Massenzio, Chris the StoryReadingApe, Kim’s Author Support Blog, Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt, Nicholas Rossis, Dr. Stone, and countless others (sorry I don’t have space to mention everyone).

Do you let people follow you by email? If so, check out your Follower Totals. This shows how many of your followers follow you by email.

You can get another interesting stat by dividing your total number of Views by the total number of Visitors. This ratio shows you how many pages the average visitor reads on your blog. Do people tend to read one article and leave, or do they tend to stay around and read more articles? Are your articles so helpful that people often read several of them after discovering your blog?

MAYBE YOUR STATS ARE BETTER THAN IT SEEMS

You may have hidden stats.

I do.

I show the full article right on the home page so that nobody has to click a Read More link.

This is convenient for visitors. They can read several full articles, and when they do, I only get credit with a single view (just my homepage).

Some bloggers who have changed their blogs to force readers to click a Read More button have seen an increase in their recorded blog views—but they are almost certainly losing traffic at the same time. The increased frequency of views can be misleading.

I realize that some people don’t like that Read More link. I try to do my visitors a favor, knowing that I myself don’t like to have to click those links (sh: I sometimes X out the site instead).

But that results in hidden traffic. I actually have many more views than are recorded. If someone visits my homepage and reads 5 full articles, I get credited with 1 view instead of 5 (because they don’t have to click anything to read those articles).

Now if I changed my site to force those readers to click a Read More link, when one person visits my homepage, they would have to click (at least) 5 different links to read 5 articles, and I would get credited with 5 views instead of 1.

I would see increased “traffic” according to my daily views. BUT I would be losing traffic—because some visitors won’t bother to click that Read More link.

If 1 out of 3 visitors who would have read 5 articles directly from my homepage walks away, I would get 11 clicks (5 + 5 + 1) from 3 visitors using Read More links, whereas currently I would only get 3 clicks for 3 visitors. Comparing 11 clicks to 3 clicks, it seems like there is more traffic when you use that Read More link. But what really happened is there were 3 visitors each way: When 3 visitors led to 11 recorded views, 11 articles were read, compared to the case when 3 visitors led to 3 recorded views but 15 articles were read. You see, I want to be read more (with hidden views), then to have more recorded views (but actually get read less).

But I prefer to have 3 visitors give me 3 clicks (rather than 11) when all 3 visitors read 5 articles on my homepage (that would make 15 views, with 12 of the views hidden—that is, not recorded).

I don’t want to lose that visitor who walked away because they didn’t want to have to click to Read More. So I’ll take fewer recorded views to have more people read my content.

That’s a personal choice, and not necessarily the best one. If your goal is to get as many recorded views as possible, the Read More link may help with your goal.

There is another advantage of that Read More link: You know your content is really compelling, or at least the beginning of your article did a good job at creating interest, if a lot of people are clicking to Read More.

If you add that Read More link and your views go down, you need to work on the beginning of your articles. There is some helpful information to gain here.

Personally, I get enough views, the number of recorded views doesn’t matter to me. I don’t want a Read More link to discourage one person from reading an article, and I don’t want a Read More link to cause a visitor to not want to return to my site. (Again, I would probably have more recorded views using the Read More link, and it would “seem” like there is more traffic using that feature when there really isn’t. The difference is that the Read More link removes the “hidden” views.)

There are other ways that you may have hidden stats.

For example, if you include a Follow by Email option without a Read More link, your email followers can read your full articles without actually visiting your website. Again, I offer this option out of convenience to my followers. I’m happy to have people read my articles by email (as long as the email came from me—I don’t support plagiarism, of course). I don’t need them to come to my blog to read my articles.

WHAT COOL SEARCH TERMS DID PEOPLE USE TO REACH YOUR BLOG?

I found some good ones on my list. One of my favorites is “funny paragraphs.” Imagine someone entered “funny paragraphs” into Google (or Bing or Yahoo or whatever) and found one of my articles. That wasn’t planned, but it’s a happy coincidence.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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Where is your avatar? What happened to your featured image?

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

MISSING AVATAR?

What happened to the avatar for your blog in the WordPress reader?

The recent update to the WordPress reader now shows your blog avatar, or blavatar, instead of your Gravatar.

So if you had an image for your Gravatar, but haven’t yet set an image for your blavatar, that would explain why your avatar image appears to be missing in the WordPress reader.

That’s easy to fix:

  • Go to your blog’s Admin page.
  • Click on Settings (look on the left column toward the bottom). Choose General.
  • At the top right, find Blog Picture / Icon.
  • Click the Browse button. Find the image file you’d like to use for your blog avatar (blavatar).
  • Click the Upload Image button.
  • Crop your image. (Or just leave it the way it is and click Crop anyway.)

PROBLEMS WITH THE READER IMAGES

If no image shows with your post in the Reader, here is why:

  • Either you didn’t include any images with your post.
  • Or the feed is set to Summary instead of Full Text under Admin > Settings > Reading > “For each article in feed, show ____.”

Unfortunately, the recent updates to the WordPress reader cause posts with the feed set to “summary” to not display an image with the post in the reader.

The solution is to change the feed setting to “full text” instead of summary. It may not be ideal, but for now, you must choose one or the other.

If you would like to use a featured image, you must set a featured image (in the new Add Post layout, you find this option on the left; in the classic layout, which you can find under Admin > Posts, you find this option at the bottom right).

Note that a gallery is presently showing underneath the post in the Reader. For posts that have multiple images, all of the images are showing in this gallery.

Click on View Gallery to quickly check out all of the images.

FOLLOW YOURSELF

Yes, you should follow your own blog.

This way you can see how your posts appear in the WordPress reader.

When you open the Reader, click the gear icon next to Following to view the list of blogs that you follow. If you already follow your blog, click on your blog’s name on the list. Then you can see how your recent posts look in the new WordPress Reader.

I find that the Reader looks much nicer on my iPhone using the WordPress app than when I view it on my pc monitor.

WORDPRESS POETS

Do you post any poetry on your blog?

If so, I’d like to link to one or more of your poems from a page that will be dedicated (on Read Tuesday) to showing by example the different forms of poetry.

The page will include a variety of poetry terms and forms, with links to blog posts that show examples of what the terms mean. (I won’t copy your poem; I’ll just link to your blog post.)

Find more information here:

http://readtuesday.com/2015/07/10/poetry-a-chance-for-poets-to-get-exposure-for-their-poems/

Blog happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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Your WordPress Stats Are Booming: 1000 Views per Day

Blog Stats

WORDPRESS BLOG STATS ARE BOOMING

WordPress has some great messages. They are very encouraging.

My favorite is:

Your stats are booming! chrismcmullen is getting lots of traffic.

Your blog, chrismcmullen, appears to be getting more traffic than usual! 103 hourly views – 29 hourly views on average.

A spike in your stats.

It would be cool if Amazon KDP did that for self-published authors. Just imagine logging into KDP and seeing one of these messages:

  • Congratulations! You just sold your 100th book.
  • Way to go! You just received your 10th customer review.
  • That’s a new record. 1000 pages read today.

It would make self-publishing even more engaging. It would help motivate you to keep up the good work.

In an industry where negativity is difficult to avoid, it would help authors remain a little more positive.

Amazon has an opportunity here, if only they would learn from WordPress’s fine example.

I love blogging. I enjoy the positive messages that I receive from WordPress.

1000 BLOG VIEWS PER DAY

Those booming stats—100 views per hour (temporarily)—helped me reach a new milestone.

Today, for the first time, I had over 1000 views in a single day.

I’ve been averaging around 500 views per day recently. It has steadily grown and continues to steadily grow.

Blog Stats 2

My previous best had been a little under 900, and that was when I had the amazing good fortune for Amazon KDP to link to one of my posts on Twitter and Facebook. That was over 6 months ago. It’s taken half a year to equal that feat on my own.

I had been averaging around 300 views per day back then, so 900 was nearly triple the norm.

For several months prior to that, my best had been 432. Those 432 views came when WordPress selected my poem of clichés, Once Upon a Time, to be Freshly Pressed.

The great thing about my new best, exceeding 1000 views, is that this time hundreds of views didn’t come from a single source.

This marks my 7th consecutive day of at least 700 views, so it comes with some consistency, rather than one oddball day. The last two days were both very close to 900.

WHERE DOES YOUR BLOG TRAFFIC COME FROM?

Another great thing about WordPress is that you can see where your views are coming from.

Blog Stats 3

Knowledge is power, right? WordPress gives us a lot of that knowledge. I use that data to help blog more effectively.

Again, Amazon could learn something from WordPress. If Amazon KDP gave us more data regarding book traffic, conversion rates, etc. (obviously, without giving so much as to sacrifice customer privacy), we could use that information to sell more books. (I betcha Amazon would like for us to all sell more books. Whatcha think?)

The number I see here is this: 594 views came from search engines. In a typical day, 400 people discover my blog through search engines who previously didn’t know anything about me (or my books). My blog started out very slow, just like everyone else. My blog is still young, too. I meet many other WordPress bloggers whose stats are far more impressive than mine are. (And they are such good sports that they will congratulate me in the comments section when they themselves are averaging hundreds more views per day than I am. It’s an amazing community.)

Another thing I notice is that 164 views originated from Facebook, but only 1 came from Twitter. (What do all those retweets tell you?)

The person who linked to my blog from Kindle Boards: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. (While only 5 visited my blog from that link today, there were many more than that from Kindle Boards yesterday.)

Just imagine if Amazon told you that 150 of your views came from Facebook, 50 came from Twitter, and 600 came from BookBub (while you had 200 sales). We could learn so much if we didn’t sell in ignorance…

Don’t get me wrong. Amazon is amazing. I love Amazon. (Seriously, I wrote a love letter to Amazon and published it on my blog.)

Amazon has done many amazing things for authors, including indie authors.

So why not ask for a few more favors? Seems like a win-win situation…

Several views also came from my WordPress followers. Somehow I have over 6000 amazing followers.

Many of my daily views come from one very generous and courteous follower, Chris the Story Reading Ape. The Story Reading Ape is an incredible supporter of readers and authors alike. I very often get the second most referrals directly from the Story Reading Ape’s blog. Thank you very much, Chris the Story Reading Ape. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has viewed my blog, and a double thank you to those who have ever liked, reblogged, retweeted, or otherwise shared any of my posts. I greatly appreciate it.

At WordPress, you can even see literally where you blog traffic comes from:

Blog Stats 4

WORDPRESS BLOGGING TIPS

If I can do it, so can you.

See this post for 21 blogging tips.

ONE MORE REASON I LOVE AMAZON KDP

As you may know (if you follow my blog, how can you not know it?), Amazon KDP recently changed its policy to pay KDP Select authors for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows based on the number of pages read.

This is the reason that I just had 1044 views of my blog.

The change in Kindle Unlimited policy is a new and hot topic.

I’ve been blogging about it since the change was announced.

I’ve also blogged about Kindle Unlimited and related topics several times in the past, so I already had search engine traffic under similar tags and categories.

But ultimately, content is king. Write quality content that your target audience will enjoy (and which you will enjoy writing about).

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

Click here to jump to the comments section.

How to Get 100,000 Views of Your BLOG (21 Blogging Tips)

Blogging Tips T

BLOG SUCCESSFULLY

I first began blogging actively on WordPress in December, 2012.

Only a little over 2 years, and my blog has reached 100,000 views and nearly 4,000 followers. My blog averages over 400 views per day presently, and the viewing frequency steadily accelerates.

If I can do it, you can, too. I believe it.

It’s not rocket science. (Just ignore the fact that I have a Ph.D. in physics. I didn’t use any physics to make my blog.)

In fact, I’m sharing my blogging ‘secrets’ today to help you do the same.

It’s not just me. I meet many other WordPress bloggers with many more views and followers than I have.

If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. You can get there, too.

I’ve created multiple blogs and webpages with WordPress, BlogSpot, GoDaddy, etc. By far my most successful blog or webpage is this WordPress blog. We’re fortunate that WordPress helps with visibility in search results. I find that the WordPress community is also very helpful, interactive, and positive. It’s a great place to be.

WORDPRESS BLOGGING TIPS

Here are 21 simple tips for better blogging at WordPress.

At the end of this article, I also reveal my two best tips for better blog traffic, and discuss those two tips in detail.

1 Readability

You can’t afford to lose any potential readers, right? They’re so hard to come by.

So your blog needs to be as readable as possible.

Black text on white is easiest to read. Use this for body text.

2 Skimmability

People read books. But they skim blogs.

Use headings, bullets, boldface, color, quote blocks, indents, images, etc. to make your blog skim-friendly.

Help the reader identify main points and see which parts of the article have relevant content.

3 Who Are You?

Setup your Gravatar. Check it periodically to ensure that it’s current.

Look for Users on either your dashboard or on My Sites.

Manage your photo through the Gravatar service. This will be your visual brand when you comment, for example.

Complete your profile. Be sure to add other links. For example, authors might add an Amazon Author Central page and a Goodreads page.

4 Publicize

Look for Settings > Sharing from your dashboard (click WP Admin from My Sites).

Add your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social media sites here. This will allow you to feed your WordPress blog directly to those sites.

(But check out my previous article about how Amazon uses Facebook and Twitter, and also check out the comments section in that post. That only takes a minute and it’s a better way.)

5 Sharing

More important, add the sharing buttons in Settings > Sharing.

This allows people who read your articles to share them via Twitter, Facebook, etc.

(If you include a hashtag in your title here at WordPress, that will help if anyone shares your post on Twitter.)

Remember to add the Print and Email options. Some people who read blogs actually like to print the articles out.

Be sure to scroll down and check the boxes for the posts and pages where you want these buttons to show.

6 Twitter & Facebook Widgets

Here is a little secret: Your Twitter and Facebook following adds to your WordPress following, so they actually help make your blog seem a little more popular than it really is.

Go to Appearance > Widgets from your dashboard.

Add the Twitter Timeline and the Facebook Like Box. Just drag them over to a sidebar. Then click the dropdown arrow to open a menu and customize them.

7 Interaction

Let your readers like your page, comment on your page, and perhaps even reblog your posts.

The likes and comments make your blog appear more interactive, and help your page stay fresh longer.

Some people try to look “pro” by removing the likes. The idea is that if there are a mere 13 likes on a post, you’re not really so popular, huh?

Who are we trying to fool? If I don’t even see the like button as an option, my first thought is that the number of likes must be really tiny.

Or, in some cases, the idea may be to encourage Facebook interaction instead. Ah, but I loathe to have to login with so many different accounts. Look, I’m already here with my Gravatar. Let me use that.

Make it simple, encourage interaction. It’s hard to get, so take what you can get.

Turn likes and reblogs on under Settings > Sharing and discussion options under Settings > Discussion.

8 Can Your Spam

Nobody wants to see that junk on your blog.

Go to Settings > Discussion to adjust comment permission settings.

I like the option where a previously approved commenter can comment again another day.

Do you really want your most loyal followers to be pending moderation? No.

But you don’t want to give the spammers a free reign either, so it’s a good idea to manually approve those who are new to your blog.

But then you better remember to check for comments that need to be approved. Don’t make them wait in limbo for days.

9 Tags & Categories

Choose tags and categories for each post. Choose just a few of each.

Specific tags likely to actually be searched for are best.

Categories should be somewhat broader than tags, but still, specific is better.

Example: I recently wrote some articles on Amazon’s new advertising tool for KDP Select authors.

Good categories may include Amazon, KDP Select, and advertising, with more specific tags of advertise on Amazon, KDP Select advertising, and Amazon Marketing Services.

Narrower tags are better. Suppose someone is searching for the keyword “advertising” on Google. My post specifically on advertising books through KDP Select isn’t going to be relevant for most searches on “advertising,” so what’s the point of that broad tag? My specific tags make this more relevant for search engines.

Categories can be somewhat broader. While “advertising” may be too broad for use as a tag, if I have other posts in the category of “advertising,” then search engines can see how relevant my website overall is to that topic.

It’s more effective to have just a few categories and a few specific tags. Piling these on or using broad tags doesn’t help.

Tip: I start typing searches at a search engine, and it pulls up popular matches as I search. You can get more detailed analysis from Google, for example, but this is good enough for me. I want a specific tag that’s actually searched for enough to show as a popular match, but not so general as to be too popular for me to ever achieve reasonable visibility.

10 Search Engine Visibility

The tags that you add should naturally fit into your article. If indeed they are relevant, it should be natural to work them into the text and headings.

Don’t overdo it. Google will smell a rat. Don’t just string keywords together. That will be very obvious, not only to Google but to your readers, too.

Your article needs to read well, but also signify what the content is about.

11 Branding & Straying

You want to develop your own brand as a blogger. This way, readers know what to expect in the way of content from you. And as your website begins to attract visitors through search engines, you want those search terms to be relevant to your blog.

But you don’t want to post 100% within the same topic, even if it’s a broad topic. It’s okay to write occasionally about other things, or to post something more personal and show that you’re human. You don’t have to give out personal info, but you might once in a blue moon relate an experience. You can make your blog a little personal without giving away personal info.

A little variety is actually good. You may actually attract more followers that way. You can balance some variety.

But you want your brand to be clear through the variety.

When I browse through my WordPress reader, I see some posts and the style of the photo or the style of the beginning clearly reveals whose blog it is. Those blogs have a definite brand in terms of appearance or style. Brand recognition. But you also want the content of your brand to show through, even if your blog has some variety.

If you want referrals, recommendations, and links to your home page, it should be clear what people should expect from your blog. What is your brand? No, don’t tell it. Show it.

12 Don’t Lose Traffic

Every extra click loses internet travelers along the way.

If it takes 2 clicks to reach your website instead of 1, you’ll lose traffic.

In Settings > Reading, you can choose to display the full article or a summary.

If you choose summary, this creates an extra click that some followers must click to reach your article from the WordPress reader.

(Some know that they can get there in 1 click. But those hoping to read your post in the reader will waste a click realizing that wasn’t possible.)

Some won’t make the trip. It’s just an internet fact.

But the WordPress stats can be misleading.

If you switch from showing the full article to showing a summary, your view stats may actually increase. But this can be misleading.

Here’s what might happen. Someone who likes your blog might add your home page to their Favorites toolbar. So they visit your home page to read your articles. If you’re showing the full article, they can read 5 articles on your home page without any clicks at all. They read 5 articles, but you only get 1 view.

Now you switch to showing only a summary. Now this reader visits your home page, but has to click the Read More link 5 separate times to view those 5 articles. Suddenly, your view stats go up. But really, your pages aren’t being viewed more than they had been. It’s just counting different now that someone has to click the link to read the rest of the article.

But this may be a bad thing, forcing those clicks to up your views. Because some people won’t make those clicks. Some people who could have read 5 articles without a single click now won’t read 1.

However, there is another consideration: upload time. Let’s say that you have a lot of high-resolution images in your posts, most of which would show after the Read More point. This could slow down the load time of your home page. Then people might visit your blog and close it out because it takes too long to load. In this case, switching to summary may help more than it hurts. You have to weigh the pros and cons (and maybe test your website out from several different computers and devices).

13 Writing

If you use the WordPress.com dashboard and if you write in Visual mode instead of Text (for HTML)—find the option at the top right when you’re writing the post—click the Toggle Toolbar icon at the top right of the icons on the top toolbar to open up other options, including an option to change from Paragraph to Headers, change the font color, indent a block, or insert a special character, for example.

WP Toolbar

(Can you imagine not knowing that these other options are available?)

Use the headings (with the icon in Visual, or using HTML in Text) for headings in your blog post. The words in your headings, or in the text divided by the headings, may help to show search engines how your content is organized, for example. Headings also aid in skimming versus reading.

14 Images

You have many options when it comes to images, even without using HTML, just with the Visual menu writing a post at WordPress.com.

Click the Add Media button. You can upload a file, or insert an image from a url, which lets you display an image from another site (but check the image use guidelines first). Find the image, right-click, and copy image location. The link often ends with .jpg or .png, for example, when you paste it in. This may not work with images on some sites, like Facebook.

If you’re not using an image that you made yourself, check the image use guidelines for that image. You don’t want to be in violation of content theft.

When linking to an image through an image url, click the button for alignment. You can also link the image to a website with the bottom option.

For example, you can find your book on Amazon, copy the image url (right-click the image and copy image location), paste it in when adding an image url at WordPress, then copy the url of the book’s product page at Amazon and link to that. When someone clicks on your thumbnail in your post, it will then take the reader to your product page.

You probably don’t want to feature your own book (or other product or service) visually at the end of every post. You don’t even need to link to your book’s product page in every post. You could use your sidebar to feature your book (or author page). Look: Your followers already know about your book. You don’t need to shove your book in their face constantly. People finding your blog for the first time will see your sidebar and discover your book that way. I do mention one of my books in plain text at the end of each post, which has some branding value, and helps for those visitors who ignore your sidebar.

When adding your own image, you can set the size, edit the image in WordPress, add a caption, etc. It pays to explore your options.

Returning to the issue of content theft, some immensely popular blogs, especially those that are image rich and feature incredible images, often don’t allow reblogs. If someone reblogs your post, your images show up in their media history at WordPress. (Crazy, huh? Maybe it’s so that those images will stay on their reblog even if your blog goes south… I dunno.) But unless your images really are such a prized possession, you may need the reblogs if you can get them. At least, post a notice regarding copyright and image use on your sidebar or at the end of your posts. (It doesn’t prevent abuse, but at least you’re asserting your rights.)

15 Don’t Play Hard to Get

Go to Appearance > Widgets from your dashboard.

Add the Follow button to your sidebar. Choose Follow Blog: Follow Blog via Email. (If you choose to show your followers, it will include Twitter and Facebook followers if you add these through sidebars, too.)

Some people prefer to follow by email, so include this as an option. WordPress users will also see a Follow button at the top of the page to add your blog feed to their reader. For others, you can also add the RSS Links button to your sidebar, so they can subscribe to your blog feed.

Here’s one benefit of the follow by email option. Once people follow hundreds of bloggers, their WordPress reader becomes jam-packed. They have to be really selective to keep up with those posts, or just read the most recent posts. It just becomes too much.

So how do you, as a reader, following hundreds of blogs, make sure that you read 100% of the posts by your favorite bloggers? The answer is simple: Follow your favorite bloggers by email.

Follow many blogs in your WordPress reader, but only your favorites by email. (Actually, you can do both for a given blog, and I believe it will count you as two followers.)

Also, follow yourself! Not for the stats. But this way you can see how your own blog looks in the WordPress reader and in email. Follow yourself both ways.

But don’t like your own posts. That would be vain. 🙂

16 Why Are my Main Headings in CAPS?

I now begin all of my posts with an image followed by a heading (using h2) in CAPS.

For example, this post begins with the heading, BLOG SUCCESSFULLY.

Why is it in caps, instead of just capitalized like Blog Successfully?

That’s because your blog post looks different on your website, in the WordPress reader, when fed into your Author Central page, when fed into Goodreads, in the emails of those who follow by email, etc. When I put the headings in caps, the excerpt for my post looks okay across the board, but if I just capitalize it, I’m not happy with how the excerpt looks in some cases.

On my website, my heading and the first paragraph show up on different lines.

However, when my blog feeds into my Author Central page, the heading and first paragraph run together.

So if I don’t use caps, here’s how my excerpt would look to shoppers viewing my author page:

Blog Successfully I first began blogging actively on WordPress in December, 2012. Only a little over 2 years…

It looks grammatically incorrect. What kind of IDIOT (that would be me!) starts a sentence with, “Blog Successfully I first began blogging…”

So in an effort not to look like a fool, I put my headings in caps. Here’s how it looks at Author Central with that subtle change:

BLOG SUCCESSFULLY I first began blogging actively on WordPress in December, 2012. Only a little over 2 years…

Still not perfect in this case (it works better when the first word has more than one letter), but the caps provide some helpful separation.

You don’t even have to start your post with a heading.

But you should see how your posts look everywhere they might be read and on different devices.

17 Feed Your Blog

I feed my WordPress blog into my Amazon Author Central page and into Goodreads.

This is easy with WordPress. Just take the url for your WordPress website and add /feed/ to it. For example, my blog is https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com, so my blog feed is https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/feed/. I just paste this feed url into the appropriate fields at Author Central and Goodreads.

My most successful website or blog is my FREE WordPress.com blog, which includes .wordpress. in the url. I actually own the domain http://chrismcmullen.com, housed by GoDaddy, but all the traffic is presently over here with the free WordPress site. Everybody and their uncle and their uncle’s uncle will tell you that it’s better to buy the domain (which I did, but for me, that’s a different author site than this one, with far less traffic).

(Certainly, that looks more professional, right? But I wonder. When I see a link I’m not familiar with, I’m reluctant to click on it. Sorry, but even if I know John Doe, I don’t want to go to JohnDoe dot com. There’s a lot of stuff floating around on the internet that I’d like to avoid. But when I see a url ending with .wordpress.com, I trust that site because I trust WordPress. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get your own domain. Remember, I have one, too. Just maybe it’s worth rethinking this “common knowledge” that it’s better to use your own domain than to have the “wordpress” in it.)

18 Blog vs. Website?

Some people think it’s more professional to have a website than a blog. But you know what? If you feed your blog into your home page, it keeps the content on your website fresh. Fresh content is good for search engines, right?

The truth is that a website can have a blog, and a blog can become much more of a website than just a blog.

I started out with just a blog, and now my website has several pages. But my homepage features my blog.

Remember, you don’t have to build Rome in a day. You can start out with a blog, and once in a blue moon you can add a page, and eventually you’ll have a professional site with both a blog and pages of helpful content.

What you really want is a content-rich hub that will attract your target audience. You want to attract search engine traffic with a content-rich website. But all those weekly (or so) blog articles that you post will become the content for your content-rich website, provided that you post relevant content sometimes. And that blog will keep your content-rich website fresh.

The other pages will also have helpful content, so that people will want to add your website to their Favorites and revisit your site periodically.

Content is king. See my BEST TIP #2 at the end of this article.

19 Your Image

Be professional. You can add a personal touch, and that’s a good thing, but still cast yourself as someone who behaves professionally.

Try to avoid stirring controversy where it’s not necessary.

Try to avoid using your blog for public complaints that might not seem professional, like authors complaining about reviews.

Remember that your blog is public, not private, and the internet has an elephant’s memory.

20 Why You?

There are many great blogs to read.

Many blog readers follow hundreds of blogs.

So… the post you’re writing right now… why should people read it?

No, don’t tell. Show.

The beginning should hook the reader. It should make the expectations clear. It should create interest; not give it away.

The supporting image should help attract interest, too.

A striking, relevant image can snap the reader alert, creating interest in your post.

Even after the reader visits your page and begins reading, there is no guarantee that the reader will stay.

So you must work to engage the reader throughout.

21 Back-up

You’d hate to blog for months, posting dozens of articles, to one day wake up and find it all gone.

So periodically back-up your blog.

It’s amazingly simple. And quick. I thought my blog was enormous and would take an eternity to download, but it just took a moment.

Go to Tools > Export. Then click export. Simply download a file and save it to your computer or jump drive (maybe both, just in case).

BEST TIP #1 PATIENCE

The first key is patience.

You start out with one post, no views, and no followers.

It can be agonizingly slow in the first few months. That’s normal.

I averaged over 400 views per day this week. But I was averaging in the single digits per day my first few months. It wasn’t until my 5th month of active blogging that I finally surpassed 300 views per month. I now average more views in 24 hours than I averaged in 30 days back then.

If you blog effectively, your stats can really accelerate months down the road.

The good news is that it often isn’t linear.

I remember those early days.

You do calculations like:

After 1 month of blogging, I have 200 views, 30 likes, and 10 followers.

At this rate, if I blog for 10 years, I’ll only have 24,000 views, 3600 views, and 1200 followers.

That wouldn’t be much to show for 10 years of hard work.

But it doesn’t work that way.

Why not?

  • As your following grows, so do your initial views.
  • As your following grows, you tend to get more reblogs, retweets, and Facebook shares.
  • As your following grows, the likes and comments make your newer posts appear more active.
  • As you write more posts, you improve your chances of generating search engine traffic.
  • It can take several weeks for your blog posts to gain visibility in search results.
  • As you write similar posts, this may help your visibility with search engines, too.
  • As you write similar posts, you develop a brand as a blogger.
  • As you mention your blog’s url in all of your other marketing (e.g. bookmarks, author page in your book), this slowly adds more traffic to your blog.

Hence, things tend to accelerate.

So don’t sweat the early numbers.

See if you can make the numbers grow from one month to another. Do this consistently, and you have great long-term potential. Be patient.

BEST TIP #2 CONTENT

Content is king.

You don’t have to write 5,000+ word posts. In fact, shorter may be better, say around 1,000 words.

It depends on what you’re writing. Some bloggers build much traffic posting a poem every few days. There are some photoblogs that mostly post an image a day that have impressive numbers. Posting an inspirational note every day can gather a following.

But who is your target audience? And what will attract that audience?

Look beyond the views, likes, and follows. But I’m not saying these numbers aren’t important. They are: Your active followers provide the interaction that you need for your blog to feel worthwhile. They provide the support your need to be patient and the feedback to help you improve. And their likes and comments make your content appear interactive when latecomers arrive to the scene.

But there is another highly significant number that can signify excellent long-term potential.

Look at the number of views you’re getting from search engines. Look for older posts to show in the list of your 10 most popular posts of the day. Look at the search terms used to find your blog.

If you write content-rich articles, WordPress gives you good prospects of building significant traffic from search engines.

Search engine traffic pulls in new people from your target audience (if you choose your content wisely). These are visitors who didn’t already know about you, your blog, or your products or services. Hundreds of visitors find my blog each day from search engines. You can do it, too.

In the beginning, you’ll have no search engine traffic. This starts out very slow and can take months to really gain traction.

It also takes good content, and a wise choice of tags and categories (see tips #9 & 10 above).

Once you get any regular search engine traffic to some of your posts, your blog views can accelerate tremendously in the coming months.

Study the posts that are generating search engine traffic and try to figure out what you did right. That will help you when you write future posts.

Without search engine traffic, you write a post, it receives several views and likes for a few days, and then that post drops off the map completely.

If that post later starts finding regular traffic in search engines, that post adds many more views to your blog over the course of a year than your most popular posts generate in their first week (unless you have the good fortune for a post to go absolutely viral).

If your content is good enough to generate search engine traffic, it will also be good enough when it’s fresh to help please and add to your following.

Focus on creating helpful content for your target audience, at least with some of your posts, and good things are likely to happen.

FREE RESOURCES

The WordPress help pages have plenty of helpful information.

Every blogger should check out One Cool Site’s Blogging Tips. This site is packed with valuable blogging tips for using WordPress effectively. I’ve learned much from this site.

http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com

If there is something specific you’d like to know about blogging at WordPress, try using Google to find your answer. Or try asking experienced bloggers. In my experience, WordPress is a helpful and friendly community, happy to share knowledge and tips.

Follow experienced and effective bloggers. You’ll probably learn some helpful tips seeing how they manage their blogs. Occasionally, bloggers even share their blogging tips right on their blogs.

LAST WORDS

Blog from your heart.

Write what you enjoy.

Enjoy what you write.

But also consider what’s effective and what your audience wants.

Because you’ll enjoy your blog more when you develop an active audience.

Ideally, what you want to write and what your audience wants you to write would be one and the same.

If that’s not quite the case, you could do both—just mix it up.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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