Are you interested in starting a blog? Here are some tips for you!
If you missed the other posts in this series, be sure to read:
A big concern from new bloggers is “how do I get anybody to read my blog??” That is a valid concern and the answer is different for different bloggers. Bloggers are lucky today with so much social media! I will tell you my personal experiences with blog traffic and then I will share with you what other bloggers have said.
It will be very difficult for readers to just randomly find your blog. You need to do some active outreach, at least at first. It is easy to do and a great way to share your ideas with an audience. Besides, if other people aren’t reading your blog, what’s the point, right?
If your blog is for your school community and parents publish it in the school newsletter, link on your school website and hand out business cards at Open Houses.
If the blog is for other art teachers or people who work with children (which is my blog’s target audience), then you will have to promote your blog online (at least a little bit.) Self-promotion isn’t easy for some people. I always feel a little shy about promoting my blog posts and worry people will be turned off or will disagree about my ideas. BUT, keep in mind how much VALUE many readers will get out of your blog posts and ideas. You may be helping that first year art teacher who is nervous and overwhelmed! You may be helping an art specialist who is working with elderly dementia patients (yes, I have gotten comments from one! 🙂 You will be helping countless kids get a rich and varied art experience. Here are some tips to start:
- Start by inviting your friends and family to read your blog by sharing posts through Facebook or email.
- You can set up a Facebook page for your blog if you like that idea.
- I have an Instagram account, but mostly it’s for my personal photos of my kids. I do know of many bloggers who post pictures on Instagram which brings traffic to their blog.
- I also have an automatic update to Twitter when I post a new blog post. I really don’t “get” Twitter and always feel lost when I try to read it, so I actually don’t use Twitter all that much. BUT, I know a lot of art teachers and teachers in general use Twitter so that may be a good place to share your blog.
- Participate in online Facebook groups (or forums in other places) for your niche. For example, I belong to several art teacher Facebook groups and nowadays there are groups online for every interest. If someone has a question and I have already written a blog post about that topic, I will often answer by sharing the link to my blog post about that topic.
- Comment on other blogs to get to know other bloggers. I think this is also essential for improving your blog and just becoming more knowledgeable about your field in general! I follow tons of blogs through Feedly. Bloglovin’ is also a very popular feed reader, but I prefer the layout of Feedly on my Android phone. I follow artists’ blogs, museum blogs, “mom” blogs, blogs about blogging and of course, lots of art education blogs. Don’t limit yourself to just your own grade level or teaching style. Learn about as many kinds of teaching philosophies and educational settings as you can. I read blogs from preschool teachers, homeschool parents, choice-based teachers, high school art teachers and more. Blogs from professional bloggers (like Problogger and Copyblogger) are good for getting general tips about blogging.
- Start your own newsletter for your blog. Once you get the hang of blogging, start a newsletter and send out periodic updates about what you have posted on your blog and any other projects you are involved in. I kept hearing I should make a newsletter and I put it off so long. I was amazed how many people signed up so quickly and I realized many people do not use feed readers and this is how they stay updated on blogs or websites they are interested in. I wish I had done it sooner! Thanks to Patty for the suggestion and push to get started with that.
Hands-down, my two biggest sources of traffic are search engines and Pinterest.
How to Optimize Your Blog for Search Engines
SEO stands for search engine optimization. There are many people who try to figure out the best ways to appear on the first or second pages of search engines like Google. Let’s face it, if your site shows up 10 pages in, it’s likely people won’t find it through search engines. To get more tips about optimizing your blog, google SEO and you will find lots of information.
- Make sure your title includes keywords of what your readers might be searching for on Google. Ie, “How to Paint Watercolor Clouds.”
- Make your first paragraph include some of these keywords (don’t stuff it ridiculously, but at least mention what your post is about.)
- Submit your website to search engines. Blogger I know does this for you, because when I was on Blogger I had relatively good search rankings and I never submitted my site to Google. I’m not sure exactly if this is absolutely necessary, but it can’t hurt.
- Use the “headings” option in various parts of your posts to highlight important topics or parts.
- Backlinks: the more people link to your blog, the more “reputable” you become in the eyes of search engines. Having people link to your blog has to happen naturally and over time. As you share good content, other people will notice. Getting your name out there by participating in projects with other blogs can only help your SEO. For example, if you look at all the highlighted names below, I have linked to their blogs, which gives more indication to Google that these are relevant websites and not just spam or sketchy websites.
- Optimize images: Always title your images with descriptive titles AKA keywords that other people might search for. NEVER leave an image titled something like “IMG 013”. If someone does a Google Image search for “pumpkin art project” and you have images titled as such on your blog, then your images might show up for them to see. That will in turn lead them to potentially click over to your blog. I have also heard suggestions to fill out the “description” part within the image when you edit it while writing your blog post, but I usually don’t take the time to do that.
All this sounds like a big hassle at first, but it becomes second nature very quickly. Hopefully this isn’t too long-winded for you, but these are things I wish I had known when I first started blogging. It would have been really helpful to start out on the right foot knowing what would help bring traffic to my blog.
How to Use Pinterest to Bring Traffic to Your Blog
Many art teachers love Pinterest for all the ideas it brings. Other art teachers hate it, because they feel it encourages cookie cutter project copying. Love it or hate it, Pinterest has been a HUGE source of traffic for art bloggers. Use that to your advantage!
- Always use images for people to pin. If you don’t have any, make some from royalty free photo sites (like Pixabay.com). For example, the image above is a paint set photo I took from a free photo site and then I put the P on the red circle and added the text using Photoshop Elements. People will often “pin” these images so that they can bookmark articles to save for later. Besides being a way to increase “pins” (and therefore traffic) it is also just visually nice to break up the text within your blog post.
- I have read that taller images attract more pins, because they take up more space on people’s feeds.
- Creating a photo collage of several images with text to entice the reader is also a good practice.
- Make sure the title of your image is something specific and relevant explaining your blog post. If you type in a description in the image description (before you insert it into your post), that will be the text that automatically is included when someone “pins” it.
- Make sure to add your website or blog address to your Pinterest profile (and other social media profiles.)
- “Pin” your own blog posts to your Pinterest boards. Also share lots of relevant pins from other websites.
- Participate in group Pinterest boards to gain more followers.
- Install “Pin it” buttons to your blog. I use a WordPress Plugin so that every image on my blog automatically has that hovering “pin it” button. I also have the “share this” feature installed on the bottom of each post so that people can easily share it to their favorite social media site if they wish.
- Use Pinterest often! It’s fun!
I asked some other popular art education bloggers to share their tips for promoting their blog. Here is what they said:
Lee: FB, Pinterest, business cards, newsletter to parents, and I have a monthly contest.
Phyl: I get traffic to both blogs by posting links in the Facebook art teacher group by meaningful use of labels (basically the same as hashtags), and by posting regularly. Also, I talk about the blogs at conferences, and I leave comments on other blogs. People need to get to know you, and know you are there!
Don: I draw blog traffic thru social media- Instagram, Twitter, fb, and Pinterest.
Michelle: A lot of my traffic comes from Pinterest. I never intended to have a Pinterest account for my blog but have always used it as a tool for myself as a mom and wife, as an artists and as a art teacher. Learn about SEO is also important as internet searches are my second biggest traffic supplier.
Thanks so much for reading my blog! I would LOVE to hear about any additional tips you have for driving traffic to your blog. Please leave a message in the comment section below.
I have a new bundle of printable sketchbooks in my shop. Check it out by clicking the image below.