One of the biggest milestones for any new website is reaching 10,000 visitors per month. If you can achieve this level of traffic, you’re already more successful than the vast majority of bloggers. At this stage, you can also start making a small but reliable monthly income from your site. This guide outlines, in an honest and realistic way, how to grow your website to 10,000 visitors per month.
How Long Will it Take to Reach 10,000 Visitors Per Month?
The road to 10,000 monthly visitors will be slow and bumpy. Building a website is a real grind. You’ll likely have some setbacks along the way. If you can stick with it through the rough times and continue slowly improving, you should see your first 10k visitor month 1-3 years after launch.
Table of Contents- How to Grow a Website to 10,000 Visitors Per Month
- Choosing a Niche
- Creating a List of Article Ideas
- Keyword Research
- Content Production
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Social Media and Marketing
- Backlinks, Outreach, and Guest Posting
- Upgrades and Investing in Your Website
- Analyzing Traffic
- Tips and Things to Avoid
Setting Yourself Up For Success: How to Choose a Niche With Potential
(If you’ve already chosen your niche and set up your site, skip this section)
Starting off in the wrong niche will slow your growth and put you at an unnecessary disadvantage. This section outlines a few things to consider before actually starting your website to give yourself the best chance of success.
1. Brainstorm niche ideas
Start by thinking about your interests. Choose a topic that you are passionate about and won’t get tired of researching. Remember, you’re going to be writing hundreds of thousands of words about your topic so it has to interest you. You should also be knowledgeable about your topic. This will help you write higher quality content from experience.
2. Make sure your niche has traffic potential
Use a search volume tool to determine the number of monthly searches of the topic you plan to write about. For a free option, try searchvolume.io Play around with different combinations of keyword and their synonyms.
If you find that only 100 people search your topic per month, you’ll have a hard time getting 10,000 visitors per month unless you broaden your niche. If your topic has millions of monthly searches, try to narrow it down a bit as competition will likely be high.
You may also want to research how your topic trends over time. Google Trends can help you with this. Check whether your topic is seasonal or decreasing in popularity. You can also check where in the world your topic is popular.
3. Determine if your niche is profitable
Most likely, your goal isn’t just to bring 10,000 visitors to your site. Your real goal is to make money.
To determine whether or not your niche has the potential to earn a profit consider the products and services related to your niche that you could sell to your visitors. look at your established competitor’s sites to see what they are selling. Look at the affiliate links and ads that they run on their sites. Find some affiliate programs offering products that you could sell and see what kind of commission they offer. Consider whether or not you can run adds.
Some of the most profitable niches include personal finance, food, travel, marketing, lifestyle, and mommy blogging.
4. Analyze your competition
Google search the main keywords of your niche and look at the content that your competition is putting out. Your goal is to determine if you could outrank them by creating a better, more current, or more detailed piece of content. Look at the type of content, the quality, and the way it is organized.
For more info, check out this great guide about analyzing competition from Search Engine Journal.
5. Determine your angle
Some niches are incredibly saturated and highly competitive. By creating a unique angle for your blog, you can more easily carve out a space for yourself in your chosen niche. The most effective way to achieve this is to identify a void in your chosen niche and fill it. Another approach is to let your personality shine through. For some more help finding your angle in a crowded niche, check out this great guide from bloggingwizard.com.
Tip: You aren’t limited to one niche. Multi niche websites can be successful as well. When you’re first starting out, try to focus on one topic. This will make building authority easier. For example, this blog started out about living in Tijuana. Now I write about cycling, travel, hiking, and more.
For more help choosing a niche, check out my guide to the pros and cons of single niche and multi niche blogging.
Choose a Good Domain Name
In this guide, I won’t go into the actual website set up process. If you need help with buying hosting, installing WordPress, etc. check out this guide from websitesetup.org. What I will talk about is choosing a good domain. Your domain name should ideally meet the following criteria:
- Short- 4 words or less is ideal.
- It should pass the ‘radio test’- This means someone can write your domain name down after hearing it.
- .com- This is the gold standard top level domain (TLD). Country specific domains can work well for country-specific websites.
- Not too specific- Don’t choose a domain that will be obsolete or dated in the future. Try to find a domain that will allow you to pivot and expand your niche if you choose.
- Avoid copying other bloggers in your niche- Try to choose an original domain.
- Simple- Avoid odd spelling, numbers, slang, uncommon characters, etc.
- Professional- Avoid using offensive or controversial terms.
- Marketable- Your domain is your brand. You want it to sound appealing.
Know Your Target Audience
If you plan to eventually monetize your site, you’ll want your traffic to be as targeted as possible. After all, it doesn’t really matter how many visitors you get if nobody buys anything or clicks on any ads. For example, you could bring a million teenage boys to a mommy blog and not earn a penny. They don’t want to buy strollers or car seats.
Consider the demographics of your audience such as their:
- Level of income
- Level of education
- Religious beliefs
- Personality traits
This information will help you when deciding what kind of content to produce.
One more important thing to learn about your target audience is their internet habits. Where does your target market hang out? Facebook? Reddit? Twitter? Is there a particular forum they frequent? Research to find their community. This will help you when marketing your blog.
Create a List of Potential Article Ideas
After choosing a niche with good growth potential and setting up your site, it’s time to start planning out your content.
Before you start writing, try to come up with 20-50 solid potential article ideas and list them in a spreadsheet. Many new bloggers fear that they will run out of things to write about. This step ensures that you don’t encounter that problem.
I have found that the most effective way to do this is to come up with a few basic article styles or formats and a bunch of subcategories of your niche. Mix and match the article styles with subcategories of your niche to easily build an extensive list of article ideas
For example, if you’re starting a fitness blog, a basic article style might be:
‘the best exercises for your _______.’
Fill in the blank with a body part or muscle group like forearms, lats, abs, neck, calves, etc. This basic style will give you at least 15 article ideas.
Another article style might be:
‘how to exercise your _________.’
Again, fill in the blank with your different muscle groups and you have 15 more articles.
Of course, this example is probably very competitive but you get the idea. Come up with a couple more article styles and you’ll have enough ideas to keep you writing until you develop Carpal tunnel.
A few more ideas to help you come up with article ideas include:
- Make a list of different article styles or formats- For example a few popular blog articles include: ‘how to ____’ or ‘the best _____’ or ‘the complete guide to ______’ or ‘______ Vs_______.’ Fill in the blank with keywords related to your niche. These types of articles work for almost any niche.
- Google search your niche and related topics- Read the article titles of the top 3 results and look through the articles. Search different keywords related to your niche for more ideas.
- Look through your competition’s blogs- See what they’re writing about. Read their most popular articles. Maybe you could write a similar article with more detail or from a different perspective. Look at their blog’s categories to help you find subcategories for your niche.
- Look on Amazon- Search some keywords related to your niche and look at the most popular books. Read the reviews of the top books to see what people liked and disliked. Look at positive and negative reviews. You’re looking for common trends in reviews. If you see an idea that a particular topic keeps coming up, you may have found an article idea.
- Look on Quora- This is a question and answer forum. Look up keywords related to your niche to see what kinds of questions people are asking. For example, if you run a finance blog, you might search ‘finance.’ One of the top results was ‘ What are the ten most important things about personal finance that someone without a finance background must know?’ This is a great article idea.
- Look on Reddit- Find some subreddits that are related to your niche. Read the top posts and read the comments. Look for trends. Is there a particular question or type of post that keeps popping up? Is there a particular type of content that is particularly popular? This can lead to an article idea.
- Rack your brain for article ideas- Try to come up with some unique article ideas. Think about things that you know how to do that you can teach others. Think about the unique experiences that you’ve had that others might be interested in reading about.
Write down any article ideas that you have, even if it seems like a bad idea. In step 3 below, you may find a hidden gem of a keyword.
Ideally, your articles should be evergreen, meaning that they don’t lose relevance over time. These types of articles can keep bringing traffic to your site for years to come.
Tip: Use a notepad or keep a note in your phone to write down potential article ideas as you think of them. Whenever I have an idea, I add it to the list on my phone immediately. I used to worry about running out of things to write about. Now, I have over 100 article ideas and the list just keeps on growing.
Use Keyword Research to Choose Your Best Article Ideas, Find Related Terms, Analyze Search Volume, and Competition
In order to grow your traffic to 10,000 visitors per month, you’ll need to write articles that people are actually looking for and want to read. This involves keyword research.
To avoid wasting time, you’ll want to analyze every article idea before you start writing. If you jump in blindly and write whatever comes to mind, you’ll end up writing articles that either have no chance of ranking or have nobody interested in reading them. Take the following steps find keywords that you can rank for that will bring traffic to your site.
Step 1: Prioritize your Article Ideas
Now that you have 20-50 article ideas, we want to pick out the best ones that have the greatest SEO potential to bring in traffic. Start by dividing your articles up into two categories:
- Short, easy, or fun articles- These will be 1,000-2,000 words.
- Long, in-depth articles- These will be 2,000-10,000+ words.
To help you do this, think about how much you have to say about each article idea. What would your subheadings be? How detailed and in-depth are the articles that you’re competing with?
A Note About Word Count
Word count itself isn’t really an important ranking factor for SEO. You should avoid adding useless information or irrelevant anecdotes to make an article longer just to achieve a higher word count. This won’t help your article rank higher. With this being said, word count is an important consideration while writing.
For example, if the article that you’re competing with is 5,000 words long, you’ll have trouble writing an article with better, more detailed information with 2,000 words. Most likely, your article will need to be as long or longer than the competition to outrank them.
Step 2: Compare the Keyword Search Volume and Competition of Article Ideas
For this step, we’ re going to take our long and in-depth article ideas and find out how much traffic potential they have. We are also going to find out how hard it will be to rank for each article in the search engines. Basically, we’re going to find the average search volume and competition for each of our top article ideas.
To do this, you’ll need to use a keyword research tool. A number of tools are available. Some are free and some cost money. I recommend you start with Google’s free tool, Keyword Planner.
When you sign up to use this tool, the website makes it seem like you have to pay to use it. You don’t. Check out this guide to Keyword Planer from ahrefs.com to help you get started.
For some other options, check out this list of 15 best keyword research tools from backlinko.com.
All keyword research tools give you similar information. Save your money and start with a free one like Keyword Planner. I have tried a couple of paid tools and find them overpriced for what utility they offer. I also suspect that the info they provide isn’t all that accurate. For our purposes, we want to focus on the average monthly search volume and competition.
Average monthly search volume
This is the number of people making a particular exact match keyword search per month. To find this number, open up your keyword research tool and type in one of your article ideas.
Ideally, we want to find keywords that receive 1,000 or more searches per month. These article ideas receive enough traffic that they are are worth pursuing.
For example, if you’re writing a fitness blog, maybe one of your article ideas is ‘the best exercises for your neck’. When I search this in Keyword Planner, I see that this specific term gets 0-10 searches per month on average. That’s not great.
Now try typing in any variations that you can think of that people might search. To do this, simply switch the words around and use any synonyms you can think of. In our example, maybe we simplify our search to ‘best neck exercises’.
When I type this into Keyword Planner, I see that these keywords get 100-1000+ searches per month on average. This is much better! As you research each of your top article ideas, take note of the average monthly search volume in your article idea list.
As you research, the keyword research tool will suggest similar keywords as well. Some of these may receive more monthly searches. In our example, a few keyword suggestions include ‘best neck stretches’ and ‘best exercise for neck pain’.
These two suggestions alone give me dozens more article ideas to research and eventually write. For example, I could write ‘best _____ stretches’ and ‘best exercise for _______ pain’ articles. Fill in the blank with a body part or muscle group and I have a new article.
If I want to take the time, I could type all of these article ideas into my keyword research tool to see which ones get the highest number of average monthly searches. Play around with these keywords until you find a combination with an acceptable average monthly search volume (around 1,000 per month or more).
Tip: Remember, the average search volume is only for your exact keyword. Around 80% of searches are unique, long-tail keyword searches. Chances are, you’ll receive most of your traffic from searches that don’t exactly match your keywords.
For example, if you run a travel blog and wrote an article titled ‘the best things to do in cape town’, you may also rank for ‘cape town attractions’ and ‘places to visit in cape town’. An article that is ranked in the #1 position for a term that gets only 100 exact match searches per month could very well see 1,000 visits or more per month.
This metric tells you how difficult it will be to rank for your chosen keywords. High competition means that there are already a lot of established, high authority sites trying to rank for the same keywords. You’ll see this in very broad keywords like ‘travel’ or ‘health’.
At this point, we want to avoid writing any articles that target high competition keywords. The reason is that it will be too difficult to rank with a new blog without any authority. Basically, we’re looking for the low hanging fruit to target.
How to Determine Competition
Some keyword tools, like Google’s Keyword Planner, only show competition for ads. This info doesn’t help us because we’re not running ads. Disregard this competition info. In this case, you’ll have to determine keyword competition by yourself.
To do this, simply run a google search for your keywords. Look at the websites that rank on the first page. If they are all big, well-established websites, competition is high.
In this case, you’ll have a hard time ranking anywhere near the top with your new site. Set that article idea aside for now and move on to the next one on your list. You can save any high competition article ideas to write about later after your site develops some authority.
If you find a set of keywords that return a result with smaller sites mixed in with bigger sites, you may have found a good article idea. In this case, you have a good chance of ranking if you can put together a piece of content that is better than the articles listed in SERPs (search engine results page).
If you see social media links, that is a good sign. Another good sign is if you see online stores like Amazon or eBay. These are usually pretty easy to outrank because they are generally pretty thin content.
Another helpful keyword competition tool is the Moz Toolbar. As you look through Google Search results, the toolbar can show you a number of useful metrics including links and a page authority score.
For more info, check out this great guide to keyword competition from wordstream.com.
Step 3: Pick Your Top Article Ideas With the Most Potential to Bring in Traffic
After analyzing the keywords, traffic potential, and competition of each of your article ideas, it’s time to pick out the best and begin writing. Try to pick an article that has the easiest competition with over 1,000 searches per month. Hopefully, you have 5-10 solid article ideas at this time.
In theory, you can grow your blog to 10,000 visitors per month with just 10 solid, detailed, and well-written articles. That’s only around 33 views per article per day, after all.
Realistically, that’s not going to happen for a new blogger. In reality, you’ll probably need to write 50-100 posts before you hit the 10,000 visitors per month mark.
The reason is that your first articles likely won’t be any good. Even if you’re a good writer, it takes practice to learn how to write a quality blog post. Blogging is its own unique style of writing.
Another thing to remember is that blog articles tend to follow the 80/20 rule. That is, 80% of your traffic comes from 20% of your posts. Most of your articles will fall flat and won’t rank or bring in much traffic.
In blogging, you just have to throw enough mud at the wall and eventually, some will stick. By carefully choosing keywords with the best chance of ranking and most potential for traffic, you can greatly increase your chances of success.
Even after two years of writing every day, I still have posts that fall flat and never rank. When this happens, I go back to some of my first posts to see how much I’ve improved over the years. Some of my first posts are just awful.
A Quick Note About Backlinks
One more ranking factor to consider is the number and quality of backlinks of your competitor’s articles. If all of the articles that you’re trying to outrank have hundreds of quality backlinks, you’ll have a hard time outranking them. This can disqualify one of your article ideas.
This free backlink checker from Niel Patel can help you. The Moz toolbar that I mentioned above can also help with this. I’ll talk more in-depth about backlinks in a later section of this guide.
For more info, check out this excellent article about keyword research from Moz.
Content Production: Tips for Writing Blog Posts
At this point, it’s finally time to start writing. I can’t really tell you how to write. Everyone has a different process. In this section, I’ll list some tips to help make your writing process more productive. I’ll also share some tips to make your writing better.
- Focus on one idea in your article- While writing, think about what someone might search for when doing a Google search. They’re probably trying to find the answer to a question or learn something about a topic. Try to write the best, most detailed article you can. Stay away from writing about anything unrelated or irrelevant.
- Link to relevant articles from big, authority sites- These are called external links. These add value to your article and help your readers find more info on what they are searching for. These links will also come in handy when you’re building backlinks. More on that later.
- Write something useful- Your article needs to provide some value to the reader. It needs to teach them something or help them solve a problem they’re having. If it’s useless, they’ll just leave the page without sharing or commenting.
- Try to make your article between 2500-4000 words- This is the ideal length. Longer articles are fine if you have a lot to say. For example, some of my articles are over 10,000 words. Don’t stuff your articles with additional information if it’s unnecessary. If an article falls short, try to add more detail and information. Don’t just stuff in useless fluff.
- Let your personality shine through a little bit- This will help your readers get to know you. If your readers like your personality, they’ll be more likely to follow you on social media and return to your site.
- Give yourself a writing goal- Set a daily word count for yourself. Many famous authors do this. For example, check out this article about famous writer’s word count goals from wordcounter.net. Personally, I try to write 1,000 words or usable content every day.
- Use good on-page SEO- Write short sentences and paragraphs. Use subheadings. Add bold or italicized text to highlight important parts. Use numbered lists or bullet points. A blog post should be easy to skim. It’s not a novel or newspaper article. Most people won’t read the whole thing. To help you with on-page SEO, use a plugin like Yoast. I’ll talk more about SEO in the following section.
- Use photos and videos- These should add to your article and help you present information. Avoid unnecessary photos or videos that don’t add to your articles.
- Link to your other articles whenever possible- These links are called internal links. Reference past related articles that you’ve written. Readers may find them useful.
- Don’t stuff your keyword in unnecessarily- As long as you stay on topic, the search engine algorithms will know what you’re talking about. You should use your keywords in your title and in the first paragraph and periodically throughout the piece. Use them in subheadings as well. Don’t go out of your way to stuff keywords everywhere. This is an obsolete SEO tactic.
- Choose a good title- Try to choose an interesting headline that evokes some kind of emotion. Avoid boring headlines. Make sure your keywords are in the title.
- Create valuable assets- Keep in mind that you’re goal is to monetize your content eventually. Write articles that will allow you to insert ads and affiliate links in the future.
- Tell stories- Insert short personal anecdotes into your writing. This will help your readers get to know you and form a connection. It’s also a good way to provide a real world example of what you’re talking about. Be sure to keep these relevant and brief.
When you’re just getting started, you should spend at least 80% of your time writing and creating content. After all, if you bring readers to your site and there is nothing for them to read, they’ll just leave.
Remember, your first several articles will probably be garbage. That’s fine. Just keep producing content regularly and you’ll slowly and steadily improve over time.
After my first year of blogging, I remember looking back at my first articles with embarrassment. After my second year of blogging, I looked back at my year-old articles with embarrassment. That’s fine. It means I’m improving.
How to Grow Traffic with SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Chances are, most of your traffic will be organic. This is traffic that comes from search engines. Mostly Google. You build this traffic through practicing SEO or search engine optimization.
I like to think about SEO as a competition. In this competition, Google’s search algorithm sets the rules. Your content competes against all other content on the same topic. If you win, you are rewarded with traffic.
While writing your articles and designing your site, you need to keep SEO in mind. You should optimize all of your articles for the keywords that you’re trying to rank for. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how Google’s search algorithm ranks articles. We do know some of the factors that are considered.
Some important SEO factors include:
- Site speed- This is one of the most important ranking factors and is completely in your control. Make your site as responsive as possible on both mobile and desktop. To test your website’s speed, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights. To help speed up your site, optimize your images for size. Install a cache and CDN plugin. Choose a lightweight theme. It’s better to have fast, minimalist site than a slow site with a bunch of pretty animations.
- Backlinks- Another major ranking factor. The better backlinks your article has, the higher it will rank. When it comes to backlinks, you want quality over quantity. More on backlinks in a later section.
- Mobile-friendliness- These days, Google uses a ‘mobile first’ approach when ranking websites. This means that they pay more attention to your mobile site than your desktop site. The reason is that more people access the internet through mobile than desktop. For example, 60% of my traffic comes from mobile. To rank higher, make sure your mobile site is responsive and easy to navigate. You should also implement AMP. For help with this, check out this guide about mobile friendliness from Hostgator.
- On-page SEO- Make sure your articles are optimized for your chosen keywords. Your posts should be easy to read and use subheadings. Use your keywords throughout the article but don’t overuse or stuff them for no reason. For help with on-page SEO, I recommend you use an SEO plugin like Yoast.
- Social shares- An article with a large amount of social shares may rank higher.
- Comments- I recommend you allow comments. An article with a large number of comments may rank higher. Commenters also provide some useful information for your readers that you may not have included in your article.
- Domain authority- If you have an article that ranks high on a particular topic, another article on the same topic may rank higher because you have some authority on the topic. This is the reason that it is important to choose a niche.
SEO is always changing. In fact, Google updates their search engine algorithms daily to provide the best results to users. As long as you write quality content and optimize your site and articles properly, you shouldn’t worry too much about SEO. Traffic will come and go but should trend up over time.
At some point, you will experience a substantial organic traffic decline due to a search engine algorithm update. In this case, the best course of action is to wait it out for a couple of weeks until it stabilizes. Continue everything as normal. Usually, your traffic will return over time.
For more, check out this article about SEO ranking factors from Optinmonster.com.
Promoting Your Website with Social Media and Email Marketing
After publishing your first article, it’s time to start marketing it. You want to get people reading what you’ve written. This will help your article rank and can lead to backlinks. For this section, I’ll assume you have no social media following or email list.
To get started, set up accounts with all of the major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Reddit, Quora etc. Try to get your website’s name as your username so people can easily find you.
Add follow and share buttons on your site so visitors can easily share your posts or follow your social media accounts. This can be achieved with a plugin or through some WordPress themes. Check out this list of social plugins from Blogging Wizard for some help getting started. Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to follow you and share your content.
Building a social media following is one of the hardest parts about growing your blog. It can feel hopeless posting your articles when you only have a handful of followers and you don’t get a single like or interaction.
When you’re just starting out, you should spend less than 20% of your time on social media. Choose 2-3 social media platforms to focus on and post once per day on each and leave it at that. In the beginning, you won’t see much traffic coming in. Probably none at all.
If you keep plugging along, you’ll see some results eventually. It will take you many months or even years to build a decent following. As your following grows, social media becomes an excellent source of traffic.
The Best Social Media Platforms to Use for Growing Your Website Traffic
You won’t have time to work on building a following on each platform. Pick 2-3 to focus on at first. The best platform for your site depends on your niche, personal preference, and your target audience. A few recommendations include:
This is basically a visual search engine rather than social media. Many bloggers find that Pinterest brings in the most traffic of any social media platform. Pinterest is great for travel, food, and lifestyle blogs.
Start by making some pins with Canva or Photoshop and post 1-3 pins per day. Try making pins with different pictures, fonts, and color schemes to attract people’s attention. Use different titles as well. Hashtags also work on Pinterest.
You should also pin other people’s pins to your boards. In addition, you can join group boards where you can pin your own pins. You’ll see some traffic start coming in after a few weeks. Some bloggers bring in thousands of visitors per month with Pinterest.
Check out this excellent guide to getting started with Pinterest from Productive Blogging.
This is a good place to network with other bloggers. Comment and interact with some people in your niche to start building a relationship. Later down the line, this will come in handy when you’re building backlinks.
You can also bring in some decent traffic with Twitter as you build a following. Be sure to use hashtags in your tweets.
These days, Facebook is kind of pay to play. If you’re not buying ads, not many people will see your posts. It’s still a good idea to set up an account and post a link to your new articles there. Facebook is the only social media platform that many people use. It’s also very popular in some regions of the world.
Facebook Tip: One good Facebook tactic is to post your content to groups. To do this, just find a group with several thousand followers that is related to your topic.
Join the group and interact for a few days without promoting anything. Basically, you want to contribute to the discussion and add some value. Ask questions and get to know the people there. The reason is that you don’t want to look like a spammer and get banned.
After you’ve built a relationship, post your article. Write a short blurb about what the article is about and why you think the group members would find it useful or interesting. If you’re genuine, this will be well received and can bring you a decent amount of traffic.
If your niche involves graphics, Instagram is a great way to get your content seen. If your website is more text-based, Instagram is kind of a waste of time. You probably won’t get many visitors from Instagram because you can only post one link in your Bio.
Having said that, Instagram is an excellent place to build your brand. Be sure to use hashtags in your posts.
This is the third most popular website in the US. Reddit has the potential to bring in an incredible amount of traffic if you use it properly. Before posting any of your content, you need to find a subreddit that is related to your topic.
Read the rules to make sure that personal links are allowed. If they don’t, your post will be removed by the moderators or you could get banned for self-promotion.
Before posting your content, you must participate in the community. Ask and answer questions and interact with members. Reddit is a bit tricky. If you post garbage or spam the community, you’ll get eaten alive.
When you do post, make sure you respond to as many comments as you can. Continue contributing to the community. You can post future articles there as well.
A good Reddit post can produce a large spike in traffic. It won’t be regular or reliable but it can help you build links and regular readers.
Some bloggers generate a nice amount of traffic by answering questions on Quora that are related to their niche and linking to their blog posts. Good answers can rank high in Google search results and bring in a nice amount of traffic. Over time, you can build a reliable source of traffic this way.
Contribute to Forums Related to Your Topic
Pretty much every niche you can think of has dedicated forums somewhere on the internet. Look for an active forum that you can join. Interact with the community and contribute to the group for a while before promoting any of your personal content. You want to add value so you don’t come off as a spammer.
After you establish yourself in the group, post one of your links in a relevant thread or start one of your own. Forums can bring you traffic and a backlink.
A Note About Gaining Followers with Follow/ Unfollow
Growing a social media following organically is a slow process. One controversial way to speed it up is the follow/unfollow method. To do this, you simply follow accounts then wait a couple of days for them to follow you back. At that point, you unfollow the accounts that didn’t follow you back.
The follow/ unfollow method is kind of a gray area in internet marketing. Some social media companies frown on it. Some will ban you if you follow or unfollow too many accounts in a certain amount of time. Many people just find it annoying. It’s up to you to decide. I have used this method with mixed results.
Check out this interesting article about the follow/unfollow method including some stats on the efficacy from agorapulse.com.
Tip: Avoid Sharing Too Much With Friends and Family
Many bloggers recommend that you start growing your traffic by sharing your articles with your personal contacts such as friends, family, and acquaintances. Basically, share with anyone in your contacts list or on your personal social media accounts.
I strongly disagree with this. Your friends and family aren’t your customers. You just come off as an annoyance if you do this. You may even lose some relationships if you bug your friends too much. Instead, focus your energy on gaining new followers.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t share with people you know. If you publish an article that you think some of your friends might be interested in, go ahead send it to them or tag them in your social media post. All I’m saying is that you shouldn’t spam everyone you know every time you hit publish. They’ll quickly get annoyed.
Create a Content Upgrade and Start Collecting Email Addresses
Building an email list is a great way to create a following and bring back regular visitors. Once per month or so, put out a short newsletter with your new articles and a bit of exclusive content for your subscribers.
Your email list will become your most valuable asset after your content. It is one piece of information that you own that can’t be taken away. A social media company can suspend your account or be replaced. If that happens, you followers are gone. Nobody can take your email list. It’s yours forever.
Your email subscribers are also some of your biggest fans. They are more invested than social media followers. They gave you their email, after all. Chances are, some will return to read your new articles every month.
The easiest way to get started building an email list is to use a service like Mailchimp or Mad Mimi. You can create a form, embed it on your site, and start collecting emails in just a few minutes.
These services usually offer free option until you hit a certain number of subscribers. Usually 1000. For more info, check out this guide to the best email marketing providers from Brittany Berger.
How to get people to sign up to your email newsletter
Setting up your email list is easy. Actually getting people to join is the challenging part. I would guess that most bloggers have a conversion rate of less than 1% when it comes to collecting email addresses.
By optimizing your opt-in form placement and wording, you can increase your conversion rate to as high as 4-5%.
To get you started, a few of the best email collection methods include:
- Create a content upgrade- This is one of the most effective methods. A content upgrade is a free, related piece of content that is only available to people who sign up for your email newsletter. Basically, they’re paying you for the content with their email address. This content could be an eBook, guide, checklist, course, or anything you think people would find useful. For more ideas, check out this list of content upgrade ideas from Optinmonster.com
- Make a pop-up form- Set the form so it pops up when people are halfway through an article or when they’re about to leave the page. Advertise your content upgrade in the pop-up form to increase your chances of collecting an Email address. Your visitors have to either enter their email or exit out to continue. Some people find these annoying but they are effective.
- Place the opt-in form on each page of your site- This way, everyone who visits your site will see it. A small percentage of them will sign up. For example, I have mine on the sidebar and the bottom of each page.
For more ideas, check out this great list of email collection techniques from sumo.com.
Just as with everything else in blogging, the growth of your email list will be slow at first. In fact, when I started my email list, I think I was getting less than one subscriber per month. As your traffic grows, you’ll see your list grow as well.
By the time you hit your 10,000 visitor per month goal, you’ll probably have a couple of hundred subscribers and collect one or two new emails every day. Depending how aggressive you are with your email collection methods, you could realistically see a conversion rate as high as 3-4%.
Before you start this part of the blog building process, you should build up the content on your site. Wait until you have at least 10-20 solid articles up before you start worrying about building backlinks.
You don’t want to bring people to your site and have nothing for them to read.
Backlink building is one of the hardest parts of SEO. A backlink is a link to your website from some external source. It could be a news article, another blogger, a forum, or any other website. Backlinks help your blog in two ways:
- Backlinks give your site some authority. A link tells the search engines that your site offers some kind of value. In the SEO world, this is often called ‘link juice’.
- Backlinks also bring in another kind of traffic called referral traffic. Basically, another site referred visitors to your site. A well-placed link from a high traffic website could send thousands of visitors to your site.
Personally, I’m not really a fan of backlink building. I’m not even convinced that backlinks play that big of a role in SEO anymore. Having said that, many bloggers agree that backlinks are a crucial part of building a successful blog. Below, I’ll outline two of the most effective methods of link building, outreach and guest posting.
Reach Out to Anyone You Linked To
While writing your articles, you mentioned and linked to related articles from more established websites that are in your niche. Now is the time to make use of those external links.
Go to each of those sites and find their email address so you can reach out to them. Send them a quick message informing them that you linked to their content in your post. Send the link as well. It also doesn’t hurt to flatter them a bit by telling them that you enjoyed their content as well. A simple one or two sentence message works fine. For example:
“Hey, I mentioned and linked to your article about (topic) in my post. Here’s the link. Have a great day.”
I recommend you don’t ask for a link or a share when you do this. Think about it from their perspective. Receiving an email informing you that you got a new backlink is a pleasant experience. Receiving an email asking you for a favor is a negative experience.
The main purpose of this is to start a relationship with someone who has more influence than you. You don’t have to ask them to do anything. They know you want a link or share. At the very least, they will be aware that you and your blog exists. If you get lucky, they may share your content or link to your blog in the future if they like your content.
This is probably the most common and effective backlink building technique. The reason it works so well is that both parties benefit. You get a backlink and the person you’re guest posting for gets content.
To start guest posting, go back to your list of potential articles and look for ideas for a guest post. Generally, you’ll want to choose an article that meets the following criteria:
- Not much SEO value- If you think an article has the potential to rank in SERPs and bring in organic traffic, save it for your blog. You’ll benefit more by bringing the traffic directly to your site rather than someone else’s.
- Potential to link to your previous articles- Choose a topic that is related to one that you’ve already published so you can link to it. Don’t overdo it with links. 2-3 links to your site are enough.
- Shorter articles- 1,000-2,000 words is sufficient for a guest post. This shouldn’t be an extensive and in-depth article. Just an average post.
- Not your best work- Guest posts should be good but not great. Save your best work for yourself. This goes against what many marketers recommend. They say that you should offer your best articles as guest posts. They only say this because they want your best work for their own site.
Guest Post Writing Tip
A good guest post writing technique is to choose a section from one of your long blog posts and write more in-depth about it. Simply change the wording, add more detail, and maybe a short anecdote. You can put together a quality, guest post this way with very little effort. Of course, the article needs to be original. Don’t just copy something you’ve already written.
A benefit to writing a guest post this way is that you have an excuse to link to the longer post in your guest post. It will also be faster and easier to write because it is already partially written.
For example, maybe you have a travel blog and you wrote the article ‘The Complete Guide to Visiting Malawi’. Within this article, you probably wrote a section about food. You could take this section and expand it into a guest post titled ‘The Best Foods to Try While Visiting Malawi’.
Pitching Guest Posts
Before pitching any websites to publish your guest post, you should write it first. This will greatly increase the likelihood of having your guest post accepted. The main reason is that the person receiving the guest post doesn’t have to wait around for you to deliver. If they accept, they can have it right there and then.
Having the article ready to go makes it easier to pitch as well. You know exactly what you’re pitching. You can tell them about the content and length of the article that you’re offering as well as refer them to some similar examples on your site that you link to in your guest post.
It’s not a waste of time to write the article first because, if nobody wants it, you can always publish it to your blog. It’s just another article, after all.
Pitching is the hardest part of the guest posting process. Look for websites in the same niche as you and start writing emails to the owner to offer your guest post. Tell them how long the post is, what the post is about, and that it’s written and ready to go. When it comes to pitching, it’s best to keep your messages short and to be humble. Try your best not to come off as spammy.
Oftentimes your request will be ignored. You may even receive some hostile responses. It’s just part of the game. Eventually, someone will accept your guest post offer.
Tip: Before pitching someone your guest post, try to get to know them a little bit. Comment on their blog posts or re-tweet one of their tweets. This way, they’ll recognize you when the email comes in.
For more help, check out this great guide to guest posting from Neil Patel.
A Couple More Link Building Ideas
- Find broken links on other sites that your article could replace- Shoot the site owner an email with the location of the broken link and your link that could replace it. There are broken link finding tools which can help you with this.
- Build links naturally with good content- This is the best link building method, in my opinion. If you write solid content, people will naturally share it and link to it over time. It’s kind of a ‘build it and they will come’ type of thing. This is the approach I take. I have never gone out hunting for links.
Check out this list of backlink building strategies from Entrepeneur.com for more ideas.
Link building tip: Don’t use any black hat link building techniques. You don’t want to risk your good standing with Google. This means, don’t buy backlinks or cloak links. For more info, check out this guide on good vs bad link building techniques from moz.com.
Upgrades and Investing in Your Website
The old saying, ‘it takes money to make money’ is true with blogging as it is with any other business. After you see your traffic grow to a couple of thousand visitors per month, you may want to invest a bit of money into your blog to make it a bit prettier, faster, more full of features, or more secure. You may also want to invest in some tools to make your job easier.
The following blog upgrades and investments aren’t required for growing your blog to 10,000 visitors per month. They may speed up the process a bit. A few blog purchases worth considering include:
A Premium Theme
This is the first upgrade you should make when you have the budget. Free WordPress themes work fine when you’re just starting out but they are pretty limited in the features that they offer. You can make your site much more attractive and responsive by purchasing a premium theme. These usually cost $50-$80. This is a one-time payment. I bought my blog’s theme at themeforest.net It’s called Solidad.
Keyword Research Tool
Paying for a premium keyword research tool can help you by giving you the information that you need to outrank the competition. Some of the stats these tools give you are really powerful and just can’t be found for free. This, in turn, will help you increase traffic.
Social Media Automation Tool
These programs can reduce your workload considerably by automating your posts on social media. This saves you time and allows you to focus your time and energy on your content. Some social media automation tools are better than others. Some are not approved by the social media companies and can result in a ban if they aren’t used properly. Do your research before setting up one of these programs.
For help choosing, check out this great list of social media automation tools from Jeff Bullas.
Tip: Don’t use the automated DM feature. Most people find them cringy, annoying, and inauthentic.
Premium WordPress Plugins
WordPress has so many great plugins that you can accomplish everything that you need for free. With that being said, some premium plugins can greatly improve your site. For example, a premium image optimization plugin can increase site speed. A premium security plugin can protect your site from hacks.
Which plugins are worth paying for? After 6 months to a year of blogging, you’ll know which plugins are your favorites. Consider paying for the full version of these to unlock more features if you think you’ll find them useful. If you’re happy with the free version, save your money.
Analyzing Website Traffic Growth
As soon as you start your blog, you should start analyzing traffic. This will help you track your blog’s progress as well as show you your strengths and weaknesses. The most powerful free programs for analyzing your blog traffic include:
This free web tool measures and analyzes your blog’s traffic. Google Analytics collects an astonishing amount of information and organizes it for you into easy to read graphs, tables, and charts. It can show you:
- Live traffic- The number of people currently on your site and which pages they are viewing.
- Traffic over time- You can view traffic by hour, day, month, week, and year. Hopefully, you’ll see your graph trend up and to the right.
- Bounce rate- This is the percentage of people who leave your site after viewing only one page.
- Session duration- The average amount of time that visitors spend on your site.
Where your traffic comes from- Compare organic traffic, social traffic, direct traffic, and referral traffic. This can help you determine the efficacy of your marketing work.
- Sessions by country- This shows you where in the world your traffic is coming from.
- Sessions by device- This shows the percentage of users visiting your site from mobile vs desktops vs tablets.
- Pages visited- Find out which articles are the most popular. You’ll most likely find that a small number of articles bring in the majority of your traffic. This is the 80/20 rule at play. 20% of your articles will bring in 80$ of your traffic. For example, my top article alone brings in 25% of my visitors at this time.
Use the above information to see how your traffic trends over time. Track your results from social media and marketing. Find out what types of content your visitors like and what they don’t seem to care about. Use this information to make decisions about what type of content to produce more of.
For some help, check out this great guide to analyzing traffic with Google Analytics from online-metrics.com.
Google Search Console
This web service helps tremendously with SEO. Google Search Console helps you check the indexing of your blog. It also helps you optimize your website to gain organic traffic. Some things you can learn by analyzing your site with Google Search Console include:
- Indexing of your site in google search- Check for errors and what is causing them. Maybe you changed a setting and some of your links break. Google Search Console will alert you so you can fix the issue before it becomes a problem.
- Links- You can see both internal and external links to see what sites are linking to you.
- Mobile site performance- You can check your AMP or mobile pages to make sure that they are functioning properly.
- Keywords- This is one of the most useful features. You can see what keyword you’re currently ranking for in search. You can use this information to improve your articles and your ranking. For example, maybe people are finding your site when searching keywords that you hadn’t thought of. You an optimize for those to gain more traffic.
- Traffic data- Check the number of clicks and impressions you get from Google. You can also check your clickthrough rate and average position in SERPs.
- Check your sitemaps- You can submit your sitemap to help Google crawl your site.
- Check robots.txt- You can check this file on your site to make sure that no pages are accidentally blocked from search engines.
- Site speed- This is a new feature. It tells you how fast your pages load on average. This information can help you reduce load times.
- Request re-crawls- If you updated an article and want Google to crawl it again to re-rank it with the new content, you can request that.
- Disavow links- This feature lets you tell Google not to consider particular backlinks when ranking your site. For example, this would come in handy if you got a backlink from a controversial or blackhat site that you don’t want to be associated with.
As you can see, Google Search Console offers you a huge amount of utility in analyzing and growing your site. For help using this powerful tool, check out this great guide to using Google Search Console from databox.com.
Tips and Things to Avoid While Growing your Blog Traffic
- Don’t waste money on courses or ebooks about blogging- All of the information that you need can be found online for free. These days, it seems like every other blogger is pedaling some type of course or ebook that claims to teach you how to make thousands of dollars per month online. While I’m sure these books contain some valid info, they aren’t worth anything because the info has already been shared by thousands of other bloggers and internet marketers online for free.
- Don’t expect fast results- Realistically, it very well may take you 2-3 years or more to reach the 10,000 visitors per month mark.
- Create good content- This is the most effective way to grow your blog traffic. You should spend the majority of your blogging time working on creating valuable and high quality content for your visitors. Remember the saying ‘content is king’.
- Follow the rules- Don’t use blackhat or illegal techniques to build links or grow traffic. You want to keep your good standing with Google. If they find that your site is using shady tactics, you could lose the majority of your traffic overnight and never recover. If you get caught breaking the rules, you may have to start over with a new domain.
- Prioritize your time- Spend the time that you do have on projects that will bring you traffic. Usually, this means creating good content. For example, don’t waste 4 hours per day on social media when you only see a handful of visitors from those sites.
- Optimize your site for speed- These days, having a responsive desktop and mobile site is key. If your page takes more than 2 seconds to load, you risk having some visitors leave and find the info elsewhere. Pages speed also plays an important role in SEO.
- Don’t be discouraged by reading about other bloggers’ quick success- While researching and learning about blogging, you’ll come across dozens of articles about people making tens of thousands of dollars per month after 6 months. Almost all of these stories are made up. There are a lot of liars, scammers, and snake oil salesmen working in online marketing. Don’t believe everything that you read.
- Do your research- Before making any decisions related to your blog, check several sources. You may find that there is an easier, better, or more modern way to do whatever it is that you’re trying to do. If you’re planning to buy something or sign up for a service, read reviews from several different sites to make sure that you’re not wasting your money. There are a lot of ‘get rich quick’ scammers working in this space. There are also a lot of companies that offer affiliate programs for their products. This means a lot of raving reviews that you read are nothing more than marketing material.
- Treat your blog like a business rather than a hobby- Sit down and write like it’s your job. When replying to emails and comments, do so in a professional manner. It’s fine to tell jokes and show your personality. Just avoid writing anything too offensive or controversial. You want your blog to appeal to a wide range of readers.
- Make yourself a schedule– When you’re just getting started you may feel overwhelmed because there are so many things to do and so much to learn. To remedy this, make yourself a reasonable schedule and stick to it.
Some Words of Encouragement
Most bloggers give up well before they reach the 10,000 visitor per month mark. This is understandable. Working for hundreds of hours over the course of a year or more without seeing much progress gets frustrating. It’s easy to get discouraged and quit.
As the Woody Allen saying goes, “80% of success is just showing up.” This is completely true with blogging. If you show up every day and work at your blog consistently, you’ll be ahead of most of your competition. If you focus on creating solid, useful content and don’t give up, you’ll reach your goal eventually. Just remember that it may take 6 months or it may take 5 years.
Another piece of good news is that driving traffic to your first website is the hardest. You’ll learn from your mistakes along the way. If at some point you decide to start another website, you’ll likely have much quicker results. Chances are, you won’t make the same mistakes again.
My Experience Growing Where The Road Forks to 10,000 Visitors Per Month
I started this blog in October of 2017 and reached the 10,000 visitor per month mark about a year and a half later. I started with zero knowledge of blogging and learned as I went. The road was bumpy and slow. I even gave up for several months early in my blogging career when I wasn’t seeing any results.
A few months after giving up, I logged into Google Analytics and saw that one of my articles was receiving about 500 visits per month. At the time, that felt like a lot of traffic. It inspired me to start blogging again. Traffic continued to grow steadily for the next 6 months.
At that point, my traffic stagnated. I continued posting regularly but wasn’t seeing any results. For two months, my traffic hovered around 4000 visits per month. I suspect that an algorithm update caused the flatline.
One day, traffic just started to increase and didn’t stop. Several months later, I shot through the 10,000 visitors per month mark and hit my blog traffic goal. Hitting that milestone proved to me that my blog has the potential to be a success.
I still grind away at my blog every day. My new traffic goal is to receive 25,000 visitors per month. I hope to reach that goal sometime next year. I will write a follow-up article about how I reached that goal when the time comes.
Final Thoughts: How to Grow a Blog to 10,000 Visitors Per Month
The most important thing to remember is that this will be a painfully slow process when you’re starting out. Many blogs start out strong and fade away within a year. It’s entirely possible that the road to 10,000 visitors per month takes 5 years. It’s also possible to get there in 6 months. It all comes down to your niche, skill, and the amount of time you put into your site.
After you build your traffic up a bit and you’re ready to start monetizing your site, check out my guide: How to Make $100 Per Month Blogging.
Has your website reached 10,000 visitors per month? Share your tips and experience in the comments below!
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