I’ve recently joined some Facebook groups for blogging, social media, and entrepreneurship, and one of the biggest struggles I see coming from fellow bloggers is driving traffic to their website. I read all about the blood, sweat, and tears that people put into their blogs day in and day out, and it’s no wonder they’re feeling overworked and discouraged. Trust me, I’ve been there, so I know that there are a couple (straight-forward) reasons for why your content isn’t performing well.
So first, let’s read the last part of that sentence again: reasons for your content isn’t performing well. We’re not talking about your Pinterest strategy, or your ability to guest post on other blogs. We’re not talking about the hours you spend on social media everyday trying to expand your reach and get your content out to more people. No, we’re specifically talking about bare bones content here and why your content isn’t performing, which brings us to my first point.
Your content…well, isn’t very good
I told ‘ya I was going to give it to you straight. You can promote, promote, promote all you want. You can put that article out onto every social media channel there is. You can scream from the rooftops that you’ve added a new post to your blog, but if nobody is actually interested in the topic you’ve written about, well, it really doesn’t matter how many hours you put in. You need to be writing engaging, entertaining content that people are actually interested in.
How many times have you heard you need to add value to your reader’s life through your content? Quite a bit, right? Sometimes when we’ve heard something over and over again, we have a tendency to let it wash over us without actually considering what it means, so I want you to take a moment and reflect on that statement: adding value to your reader. Think about what the word value means.
Essentially, with a blog, your words are your product. The topics you choose to blog about are your product category. If you’re selling a product that nobody wants in a category that people aren’t interested in, nobody is going to buy your product. When we think of it that way it seems pretty obvious, right? Well the same goes for your blog. If you can’t write words (your product) in a category (your niche) that people actually care about, then nobody is going to read your content because nobody is actually interested in what you have to say. It’s not valuable to the consumer (aka the reader).
The Solution: You need to start paying attention to what content people are interested in. How?
1. Make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your blog so that you can see what content is getting the most page views. (you’ll find this under “Behavior” and then “Site Content”)
2. If you’re just starting on your blogging journey, don’t limit yourself to one topic. Blog about a couple different topics you’re passionate about and then see what posts perform best. From there, reevaluate the topics you blog about and pick the ones that have a proven success rate with your readers. You’re writing for your readers, after all.
3. Read comments on popular blogs and platforms in your niche to see what questions people are asking. For example, if you’re a beauty blogger, go onto a popular beauty YouTube channel and start reading through the comments. I guarantee you’ll find subscribers asking that YouTuber a question. If you know the answer and you think you could craft a high-value blog post around it, do it! I would bet there’s others out there who have the same questions. Answering a question and/or providing a solution to a problem is always the most valuable content. Why? Think of yourself googling something. How often is it a question where you’re looking for a solution. Pretty often, right? You’re not alone.
4. You can use Google Keyword Planner to see what people are searching for on Google. I’ll be honest and say I’m kind of lazy when it comes to this strategy. I’m much more inclined to form my content based on what I see people talking about on social media, but if you’re more of an analytical person, give this strategy a try.
5. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We’re all so concerned with creating the most unique post, but if you see the same topic blogged about often, there’s a reason for this. It means people are interested in that topic. Now obviously don’t just try and regurgitate that post. What is going to make your content different is your unique opinion and approach to that subject. Don’t be afraid to give it your spin. It’s clearly a topic worthy of exploration.
6. When you write a post, before posting always be very honest with yourself and ask: does this post add value to someone’s life? I’ll reiterate, be very honest with yourself when asking this question. It’s easy to look at the hours you just put into writing the post and then simply assume it must be valuable, but sometimes, this isn’t the case. Reevaluate the post and think about how that post can improve on your reader’s life in some way, shape, or form. If there’s no value in the post, make sure you add it!
Your Content Isn’t Actionable
Maybe you are writing about the right topics. Maybe you’re inserting value where you can, but if your content doesn’t actually direct people in any sort of direction, well, what’s the point in them reading? You want people to read your content and be inspired to take some sort of action. That action can be purchasing a product, making a lifestyle change, trying a new recipe, attempting a DIY, or trying a new makeup technique. Whatever it is, make sure the action is obvious to the reader.
Notice how with this blog post, after I’ve told you the reason for why your content isn’t performing well, I’ve also given you the solution. It’s one thing for me to provide you with some suggestions for what might be wrong with your content, it’s a whole other ball game when I tell you how you can solve that problem. The “what” is important, but it’s the “how” (i.e. the action) that will hopefully have people coming back for more.
Now, I have to point out that there are some exceptions to this rule of making your content actionable. There are some bloggers whose popularity is so huge that they don’t need to be actionable. I’m thinking of a few fashion bloggers in particular. They can share their outfits with us, and because they’ve gained such a large following and strong reputation, they don’t need to provide actionable advice. However, because you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you likely haven’t reached this status yet. This can take years, so while you’re growing, I highly recommend providing actionable advice while you’re still gaining your reader’s trust.
If you’re trying to grow an email list (and you should be!), one great strategy for getting people to opt-in is to write a blog post detailing the “what” and “why” of a topic, and then make the “how” of a topic only available through an email sign-up. This strategy ensures your reader is getting the content they want, and you’re also gaining a subscriber. Not only that, but by using this strategy to grow your list, it guarantees the person who just signed up for your list is truly engaged and interested in the content that you’re putting out. It’s a win-win for both you and your reader.
The Solution: Make your content actionable
Pretty straight-forward, right?
Once you’ve finished a blog post, go back and pinpoint the actionable advice you’ve provided. Make sure it’s obvious. If it’s not there, add it.
Personally, I know when I’m reading a blog post, if I start reading and by the halfway point, I haven’t had a moment where I feel like I’ve been given something to do when I finish reading, then I’ve already checked out. For example, if you’re a beauty blogger and you’re discussing skincare, if I’m halfway through your skincare post and all I have is your skincare struggles and your current routine, this isn’t necessarily helpful to me. These things are important, but it’s equally as important to tell me how I can combat acne (i.e. the exact steps and the actionable advice). How can I use your routine to combat my acne? How is your routine going to help me? You need to give me actionable (obvious, straight-forward) advice and not simply a rundown, overview, or insight.
You can make this advice even more actionable by hinting at actionable advice before your reader even gets to the post. How? Put that action right into the blog post title: Eliminate Acne in One Month, The 12 Step Process to Eliminating Acne, The 5 Products You Need To Buy To Eliminate Acne. In all of these titles, the action is obvious (eliminate acne), and by clicking the post the readers know they’re going to get the answer to how they can complete the action. Hello traffic boost.
Your Content is Too Personal
Now, let me be clear: I’m all for adding personality into your posts. A blog post can be super valuable, but if I feel like it’s written by a robot with no personality, chances are I won’t be a returning visitor to that blog. On the flip side, if I’m reading a post and all you’re telling me about is what you had for breakfast and that cute thing your dog did yesterday, well, I’m already headed for the exit.
In my early years of blogging, I did this all the time. Why? Because I was reading the popular blogs, written by huge influencers. I figured because they talked about their personal lives, I should too. The problem with this: nobody actually cared that much about my personal life that they wanted to read a whole post dedicated to it.
Keeping to your topics and not getting too personal is especially important when you’re just starting out blogging and people don’t know you yet. Let them get to know you, but don’t do it in a whole post. If you really want to let people in, I personally think it’s best to do this through a platform like Instagram. That’s generally where I’ll share personal anecdotes and how I’m feeling about life. It doesn’t mean my blog is devoid of personality. My writing still has my voice and personality all over it, but I try and keep feelings and stories for the ‘gram.
Solution: Find a balance
For every blog, balancing the personal with the actionable advice is a little different, depending on your niche. If you’re a lifestyle blogger with a big personality that people gravitate to, personality is likely a key factor in the success of your posts. If you’re an online business selling t-shirts, your content should likely be more niche and specific to t-shirts. One thing is for sure: unless you’re a celebrity or you’ve managed to create a community of raving fans, people likely don’t want to read your online diary. Find the balance, and check yourself along the way. Your friends and family might find your stories cute, but if they have nothing to do with your blog post and add no value, your readers probably don’t.
The Takeaway To Improve Your Content
I could go on and on about other strategies for improving your blog content (if you’re interested in more strategies, let me know!), but there’s one major takeaway here that you absolutely must come to terms with if you want to create content that performs well. The takeaway?
Make sure you’re consistently producing content that is valuable.
And make sure you’re not thinking about value in terms of what you think is valuable. Think like your reader! If you’re blogging totally for fun, you have no interest in page views, and you treat your blog like a hobby, then fine, don’t worry about value. However, since you clicked on this article, I’m thinking you’d like to get those page views up, right?
It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Check your ego at the door, stop thinking about your content from your own perspective, and start tapping into what readers are asking for in your blogging niche. Trust me, the answers are out there; you just have to be savvy enough to look for them. Once you do this and start consistently adding valuable, actionable advice, that’s on topic, you’ll start to notice improvements in your traffic.
Be honest in the comments below: do you feel like perhaps you’ve been writing for yourself more than your readers? Look back at some of your older posts: do you feel like they add strong value into your readers’ lives?