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Generating more traffic to your blog

I got a e-mail recently asking how I made I.D successful. I thought I would share the below e-mail with fellow bloggers, I'd also added in a few things since the e-mail to ;).

On a further note, I'll be making this a sticky post for sometime and will have a direct link to this post some where easily accessible on the site.

Blogging, it's a tough old game

I am not going to lie, having running a blog takes time, effort and patience. It will take time to get noticed and stand out from the crowd, but in time, with effort, you will get there.

Keep that in mind and solider on, then you will get some where.

Name in neon lights

Before you start pimping your name out, you want a spiffing looking blog. Not only do you want people to come to your blog, but you want to give them another reason to stay besides the excellent content. A big factor in keeping viewers is all in the blog design.

Take I.D for example, the very first template I used was the built in blogger one, which was black background with white text. It looked extremely basic and simple, and didn't really have anything to shout about. I then added a custom template, which I had messed about with and made it grey and orange. It looked shite and way too busy. Then came the more 'corporate' look with templates using a much cleaner and sleeker theme. The current template even uses a funky slide show to pimp out past posts.

So, when picking a template it's important you like it, but it's just important if other people will like. It's no good picking a template which has a Hulk Hogan like style with a red back ground and yellow font; it just looks cheap, tacky and is a plain pain in the arse to read.

Pimpin' ain't easy, yo

Your blog isn't going to get noticed straight away. You need to make it get noticed and one easy way is word of mouth.  I've got my blog link in every signature on every forum I visit. I am also part of several local gaming clubs and pimp my blog out there. When starting my blog I got it onto as many blog rolls as possible and also followed other people's blogs; reason is people only tend to follow you if they follow them, it just depends who the first one is out the gates.

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

When you have a blog you need to do something different or something which at least stands out from the crowd. If you don't, then your blog will fade into the blogosphere and become nothing more than 'another blog'.

I can't say I.D is unique in some ways, but other ways it is. At the time, I found blogs to do one thing or another and not offer multiple things. There was really only two blogs I visited three years ago; From the Warp and Yes the Truth Hurts. FtW offered excellent painting advice and YTTH offered list building advice. Both these blogs excelled at what they offered, but only offered something unique.

I.D offers the middle ground of the two above. The blog has content about army lists etc and tactics and also has articles on painting and hobbying. I am not saying my content is as good as the two above, but it offers something different. As the text at the type says, this blog is for the hobby gamer.

 Also, I did help a lot on dakka with army lists (and I am pretty good at it) and got visitors from that and e-mails etc.  This 'service' so to speak got my name known on Dakka and in turn got my blog noticed, all thanks to my signature on the site.

Basically the blog is for you to talk about what interests you. Others with the same interests will soon flock to you. After all, no point talking about something you have no interest in and therefore put in little effort or something you have little knowledge about.

Open your mind and share

Posting wise, I post at work, but also schedule posts. I am at a PC all day at work and sometimes it can be very quiet. I recommend trying to make posts while it is on your mind or at least save the subject of what you want to talk about as a draft; you can come back to it later and this way you do not forget about a nice subject to talk about.

Every day I think of new articles to post. This can be anything from venting and letting off steam and having a general moan (will talk about this later) to tactica, things I want to learn about i.e X vs Y comparsion articles or even bat reps. A word to the wise though; only say something when you have something worth saying. In other words you do not have to post all the time. This can be a negative and positive; positive means readers and digest your posts longer and posts get more viewers. Negative is that people will think your blog doesn't get updated that often and may no visit it as regularly as they do others. My advice is to find the medium to suit yourself and your traffic.

When writing posts try to add pictures and/or sub headings. Nothing is worse than a wall of text, it just appears endless and is boring.

Sub headers break the wall of text down into bite size digestible chunks, also handy if someone wants to skip to a certain part of the post.

Images add colour and also break up the wall of text. They make a post seem more friendly and a whole lot easier to read; doesn't look like a giant essay of boredom.

Tag 'em and bag 'em

Search engine bots are always on the look out for new content. In case you don't know, the more times a search result link is clicked on, the higher it will appear in the search listings. The more appropriate names in your post, then the more relevant your site will be in that search result.

Search engines are a very powerful ally for a blogger. Add in tags and categories etc and you can easily get the words people are searching for listed into a search engine. When making tags you want relevant things which someone maybe searching for i.e Blood Angels or Space Marines, adding tags onto every post regarding this subject means the bots will pick it up. Use the categories too i.e Blood Angel tactics. Bots will pick these up and add them to search results.

I see all

Try adding google analytics, it's an awesome little tool and gives you a wealth of info. It's only a little more in depth than the built in one, but more importantly it shows times people come on. I have found my weekends to be quiet (it's because only I posted at the time and on week days only) and most activity is between 1p - 6p. To boost traffic I have started posting on weekends (using schedule) and increasing posts between those hours I mentioned. Try not to overload your blog with multiple posts a day, stick to about 2-3 and leave a sizable time span between them; this will give time for the posts to get traffic and for people to read them. Remember, blog rolls only show the last post, so make sure it's getting some air time and also has a punchy subject to grab attention.

Creating traffic - the good, the bad and the ugly

People come to your blog to see what you have to offer. Or to see the drama. Blogging is like fishing.

The 'good' blogging is like fishing, you cast your article and see what takes a bite. You need your best bait and to be on top form when posting. Make sure you content is at it's best when you post and you've gone over everything you can think of. If you have any after thought make sure you add it in later by editing the post, even adding people's suggestions is good, it makes you look open towards other people. Your 'good' content is going to be things like quality tactica articles, awesome army lists, excellent painting, super hobby work etc. After all, everyone plays this game because of the models and how they look. Excellent painted models and scenery always generate the most traffic and best quality traffic, if you know what I mean ;)

The biggest way to draw traffic is to create a 'scandal'. When I say this you need something controversial. 
A example is my recent rant: whiny 40k players post. While what I said is true (and I get to vent some steam), it has added hyperbole to attract attention, but it's main point is to generate traffic. That post ranked 3rd viewed last week in under 24 hours. I haven't checked it since, but it has generated a lot of traffic.

And then there's the ugly. No matter where you go whether it be in person or online there will be someone you do not like or get one with. 40k is populated by arrogant know-it-alls, little punk ass kids, whiny bitches and the damn annoying. I am not saying all 40k players are like this, but you're going to come across those types I mentioned and you will not get along. Things will be said from both parties, which will not be liked. This is where the blog comes in. See the blog is like a stage and you're talking to the audience. You can use this stage for anything you like, including bitching about some annoying asshat online. You will get people who side with you and of course you will get people who do not care for drama.

If you do any of the above, but not that often and keep a tempo, then you will attract traffic. Everyone likes a good nosey to see what's going on, it's our nature and we cannot help it. I will make a note, DO NOT do any of the above on a regular basis and only do this when you have an sizable amount of traffic. You will need judgement on this and it greatly depends on your type of readers.

I hope all the above advice/tips has helped and your blog long live and prosper :).