After I published my October goals and traffic report, a couple of people asked me how I managed to grow my blog to the stage it’s currently at.

Now, I’d love to be able to give a quick and easy answer to that, but the fact is, there just isn’t one: I have, however, managed to identify five key things that I think helped, and here they are…

5 things I did that made my blog traffic start to grow
01. Gave it time

This is the one piece of advice no one really wants to hear, but you know that quote about not comparing your start to someone else’s middle? THAT. It takes a long time to build a readership, and by that I mean it takes YEARS. I’ve been blogging for almost a decade now (OMG), and while I’d like to think it doesn’t necessarily have to take THAT long, it’s not something that happens overnight – or even over a LOT of nights.

Often when I see someone getting discouraged by what they see as a lack of success, it turns out that they’ve only been blogging for a few months, and are somehow expecting to be getting the same kind of traffic as established sites. It just doesn’t work that way, though: sure, you could get lucky, have a post go viral and become an overnight success… but probably not, you know? It’s more likely that you’ll have to give it time, and be prepared to work at it: oh, and stop comparing yourself to everyone else!

02. Made my blog a priority

As I said, I’ve had this blog for almost a decade now, but for a lot of that time I was blogging for…. well, nothing, really. For years and years (and years and years) this site just ticked along, without getting many visitors. Sure, I had a small group of loyal readers, who I was (and am) extremely grateful to, but the number of those readers didn’t ever change, and nor did the pageviews increase.

I’d always assumed that if I just kept at it long enough, my readership would grow gradually, but NOPE, that didn’t happen. I’m the living proof that you can blog for years and NOT get popular, because patience may be a virtue, but it isn’t a guarantee of success. Yes, it takes time to grow a blog, but time itself isn’t enough to do it. Might as well give up now, huh? Well, no, not quite. The fact is, during all of those years when my blog wasn’t growing, I wasn’t actually doing anything to MAKE it grow.

It wasn’t until I decided to start taking it seriously, and make a concerted effort to increase my readership that I started to see an increase in traffic. You can’t just build it and hope they’ll come, because they probably won’t, so if you want to turn your blog into a business – or even a very successful hobby – you need to have the mindset of a business-person, and that means making your blog your number one priority.

how to make your blog grow

03.  Experimented with different types of content

Once I decided to start taking my blog more seriously, the first thing I did was to look at the type of content I was creating for it. The site had always been a personal diary, and I didn’t want to lose that element of it: I enjoyed writing those posts, and they were what got me into blogging in the first place. The problem was that there’s only so much you can say about your life: mine just isn’t that interesting, and even on a good week, there’s very little I could say about it that anyone would want to read.

Sometimes people tell me they miss the more personal posts I “used” to write, and I always get the impression that they think I’m deliberately withholding stuff: that at some point I made a decision to stop sharing personal stories in favour of outfit posts and beauty reviews. The fact is, though, I still write the same number of personal posts I always did: it’s just that now I write other content too – and it’s that other content that finally made the site start to grow.

As I mentioned in my October traffic report, people might enjoy reading personal stories, but they don’t tend to share them, and they don’t actively seek them out either. No one’s going to Google and typing in “stories about women who pocket dial themselves“, for instance, although it would be fun for me if they did.

When my blog was purely a diary, I was only able to update it occasionally, because that’s how often something would happen that I thought was worth writing about. Once I decided to start doing outfit and beauty posts too, I was able to continue writing those ‘diary’ style posts, but on the days – and there are a lot of them – when there was nothing really going on I could write about, at least I had something else I could fall back on. I don’t commit random acts of stupidity every day, thankfully, but I DO get dressed every day (well, most days, anyway), so having other topics to write about meant I could post more often, and get traffic from sources other than my parents and the other five people who were, for reasons unknown, interested in reading about my life.

The TL:DR : if your blog isn’t growing, no matter how hard you try, it might be worth considering a change of direction,  or just experimenting with the type of things you write about to see what works and what doesn’t.

how I grew my blog to over 100,000 pageviews per month

04.  Started posting more regularly

This is another one that people tend not to want to hear, but in very general terms, the more often you post, the more traffic you’ll get, because there’s more for people to see, and more reasons for them to come back. If you post once a week, people will only visit your blog once a week: stands to reason, right? Posting more often increases your visibility on social media, and gives people more content to read and share, and while I’m not suggesting you should force yourself to stick to a rigid schedule, or post when you don’t really have anything to say (which could end up doing more harm than good), my traffic and follower numbers increased when I started posting more regularly than the “whenever I feel like it” schedule I’d previously been on.

(See how I create an editorial calendar for my blog here.)

05. Wrote the posts I was afraid to write

Some of the posts that have been most successful for my blog have been the ones I was most afraid to publish – either because I worried they’d be controversial, that they were way too long, or that they were just plain boring. The fact is, though, that those kind of posts can be the ones that stand out most (well, maybe not the really boring ones, but even those will occasionally surprise you by resonating with someone, and generating more interest than you expected…): they’re the posts that come from the heart, and people tend to respond to that.

If I’ve written something very long, or slightly controversial (I don’t think I’ve ever written anything REALLY controversial, but it’s amazing what people will take offence to!), it’s because I really cared about that topic, and had something to say about it, and that kind of post will almost always work better than something I’ve forced myself to write because I thought I SHOULD. Not all of those posts have worked out well, of course, but the ones that did really helped attract new readers and grow my blog – so sometimes it can be worth taking what feels like a bit of a risk: it might just pay off.

41 Comments
  1. For what it’s worth, I loved your blog when it was “only” a personal journal (long-time lurker here), but I do love the fact that you post more often now and made Forever Amber a priority (before that, I was constantly afraid yu might just close your blog someday). I come here because I enjoy your writing style immensely and because you seem like a fun person – and for the pretty dresses, naturally, but there are plenty of blogs about pretty dresses that I don’t actively follow, mostly because they’re missing that personal note your site has.
    (I do hope this comment doesn’t make me sound like a creepy stalker. I promise I am not. I just tend to fangirl over people whose writing I find both informative AND entertaining, because that kind of writing really isn’t easy to do.)

    Keep it up!

    1. I’m with you Steffi. I used to worry that blog would just stop too and the where would I get my fix of random acts and polka dots??

    2. That’s really nice of you both to say! I know I have a few long-time readers who weren’t really happy when I started doing other stuff, and who seemed to feel that I’d “replaced” the personal updates with outfit posts, (Which I really didn’t: I still post about random acts of stupidity etc when they happen, it’s just that they don’t happen all that often! ) so it’s nice to know not everyone feels like that!

  2. This is a really helpful and insightful post and I really enjoyed reading it. There are so many different types of bloggers and I personally enjoy the fashion/beauty ones for reading myself. Strangely though, the blog that I write on my own website is more a document of my journey as I build my (or try to build) my business – probably more like the diary that you used to write yourself. I often reflect about what I write and whether anyone is reading it and what is the purpose of it all, etc. etc. etc. Not sure that I have really found my groove yet, but listening to what you are saying, maybe it is a constantly evolving thing that grows and develops over time. Lorraine x

  3. As per my previous comment, I love your blog! On course, once in awhile I came across posts I didn’t like so I skip them. Otherwise, I really ADORE your blog and I have the feeling that you adore doing it. In addition, I do love the fact that you post often and made Forever Amber a priority. Thank you so much and keep up with the good work, Mademoiselle.

  4. Hi Amber, I thought that was a really insightful and helpful post. I’m trying to make my blog more of a priority this month, it not always easy as you get distraught by something else (freelance work, real life or just online shopping). I’m finding it really hard at the moment to grow my blog as I often feel no one is reading it. I have to keep going and hoping someone will like it soon.

  5. You have such a wonderful polished looking blog that it seems strange that at one time your blog wasn’t popular 🙂 I’m glad that you stuck with it, you are one of the few fashion blogs that I look forward to reading, but I think it’s because you do include the personal stories.

  6. Thank you for this, some great tips. As I am new to the world of blogging I am lucky to already have my own website as a platform for my writing, but these tips are great. I definitely need to start posting more often. I’d love to here your thoughts on my first few blogs.

  7. #2 and 3 definitely resonate with me. It’s funny how when you finally make something a priority, all kinds of doors open up. 🙂 And as far as content goes, I love sharing personal stories. I do, however, try to limit those to a few a month since they aren’t always what readers what to see. Great post!

  8. It can definitely be hard sometimes. I’ve found that while there are posts that I ENJOY writing, they aren’t always the posts that get the most traffic or engagement. Since I really am trying to make my blog a priority, in 2016 that’s going to mean that some of those posts become fewer and far between or maybe go away completely. If people don’t enjoy reading it and I want them to keep coming back, why would I keep posting them, you know?

  9. I like personal stories. I like to share mine on my blog and I also enjoy reading them on other blogs. As you said, it’s unlikely I would ever share them, it would feel like I’m gossiping. You give great advice, as usual. x

  10. Hi Amber,
    Thanks for your nice and helpful post for make a person successful to do blogging. I am a beginner and just start blogging .
    I have have 2 blogs fist blog age is 2 year and only 44 post and new blog age about 4 months and has 70+ blogs but my first blog visitors is more then second blog . I don’t know what is the cause for low visitors in my new site. please suggest me, how can i get more visitor in my new blog and i am writing every day in my new blog.

  11. I think you’ve summarised what all of us know deep down – the secret to growth is hard work! There isn’t really a magic formula – yeah, you might get lucky with a viral post but even that’s likely to come once you’re somewhat established as it can’t go viral with no one reading it! I would attribute some of my growth this year to relationships built with other bloggers in my niche – if someone likes you and wants you to do well, they’ll be more likely to share your posts. For me, this is great as it’s just an amazing bonus of creating some fab friendships and I can return the favour 🙂

  12. Great advice! Especially number 2. It’s what I’ve finally started doing – making my blog a priority. My blog may be a hobby blog, but writing for it and watching it grow makes me happy. 🙂

  13. I’ve been a reader for years, and I love the direction in which you’ve taken your blog. And I’m really liking your recent posts about blogging. I find them very informative, and yet still very Amber.

  14. I too am making the blog a priority now, and posting different types of content and it’s starting to grow, starting to get somewhere (now 130,000 somewhere, but a little more than before). This is spot on advice.

  15. Great tips- I read somewhere recently that you have to write about something that offers the readers something- and like you said about your personal posts getting less shares and traffic than the beauty reviews, etc- that makes sense to me now! I’m glad that you still kept your “niche” though of your personal posts, that’s good! I’ll have to poke around here a bit 🙂 Congrats on your blog success, I am working on that too!

  16. I have been following your blog a little over a year and I really enjoy your writing and content. I was introduced through your blog to new brands and I like that your personal posts are honest and you don’t portray yourself as someone you aren’t.

    Have a lovely day!!!

    xoxo Violeta, your Shoegal Out In The World

  17. Wow, it’s great to hear this from someone who has been doing this for a while. Too many posts are along the lines oh How I Got Everyone On The Planet To Look At My Blog After A Week Blogging. It’s refreshing to be told that it’s not easy and takes time.

  18. For me and my humble blog, the most read posts have been those I didn’t initially want to write. They were the confessions-of-the-soul kind, that while cathartic to write, were scary to share. People value transparency. You seem like a cool gal who cares about your audience! Thanks for your insight.

  19. Awesome post! It is seriously hard in the beginning stages of blogging (I’m currently still in the beginning stages of blogging and sometimes I feel like the crickets are getting louder…). But I always remember to tell myself that even the successful bloggers were once surrounded by crickets 😉 . All bloggers are different and many don’t find success overnight. Many bloggers take years upon years to establish themselves in the blogging community.

    Thanks again for this post!

    Juliet from http://www.thelittlejewelsoflife.com

  20. New reader here, and it’s nice to hear that you went from hobby blogger to successful blogger. I’ve had my blog for almost 5 years now and find myself in the same position of keeping more of an online diary that a tiny handful of people are reading. Reading about your success helps fuel my drive to become successful! Thanks!!!

  21. You are a passionate blogger. Will undoubtedly be back again often to take a look up on latest content. Incorporates a fantastic vision of your views.After looking at this post, I honestly thank you for your hard work and my personal request is always to please discuss us much more post in future. Keep writing 🙂

  22. Thanks a lot for sharing this. The most important for me is the piece about posting something “scary”. There’s one post I’m hesitating about, but now I’ll try it out. 😉

  23. This is really reassuring, thank you!
    I haven’t been at it for long really but sometimes I feel like I’m just kind of sending my posts out to get lost in the huge ocean of internet out there, haha.
    I’ve actually just stumbled across your blog but I love it! I will be coming back 🙂 Thanks for sharing x

    http://parisahashempour.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/cropped-961472_10153402487199838_885213990_n-1.jpg

  24. I think I’m going to take your advice and go for the risky posts! My people pleaser personality shouldn’t restrict my writing! Thank you for the encouragement!

  25. Oh my goodness. I’m mortified. My phone made it seem like you were talking to me. I was so confused why you would be talking to me! Haha! I’m so sorry! I’m new to this. I’m gonna go curl in a ball…

  26. Your post cracks me up! I love your random interjections, like you pocket dialing yourself 🙂 I started my blog 6 years ago, and like you did not grow my followers because I wasn’t writing consistently or trying to gain followers. Now that I am looking into growing my followers and putting more work into my blog, I’ll have to try these tips. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Firstly, I like your blog it’s so light and nice. Secondly, thank you for this post! I really like it. I just want to ask you how many posts you write per week? Thanks.

    Have a nice day xx
    http://www.inbluebox.com

  28. I’ve been looking for these tips so long, but I finally find it! Thank you for these, it is really helpful. 🙂

    have a nice day xx
    http://www.inbluebox.com

  29. Thanks for doing a blog post that actually makes sense and doesn’t try to sell you on some amazing class that’s going to chat your blog stats overnight. I would also add to the list stubbornness. I want to quit like once a week when I look at my stats but then I’ll get some awesome comments and be like okay, one more day, one more post, let’s go.

    Great job!

  30. Thanks for such an informative post, the first point on giving your blog time actually got to me because I’ve been worried that my blog isn’t growing as I thought it would but I’m determined to research more and work harder with the hope that I’ll definately reach my goals. I want to add that joining pinterest has helped me so much to learn about blogging and better ways to grow my blog. in fact, I have discovered fantastic blogs like this on pinterest!

  31. I just meet you’re blog today but I totaly love it. I was on Pinterest and find your post because I find that picture great but the post surprised me. Today I do a blog on Blogspot and I don’t know why I have been so insecure about it, cause I am writing reviews of books that I’ve read but now I am so inspired because you that I need say thank you. And I need to ask apologies for my english, I am Brazilian and I training to be fluent on English but I am not yet. So..sorry hahaha

    Can I invited you to visit my blog?

  32. I just meet you’re blog today but I totaly love it. I was on Pinterest and find your post because I find that picture great but the post surprised me. Today I do a blog on Blogspot and I don’t know why I have been so insecure about it, cause I am writing reviews of books that I’ve read but now I am so inspired because you that I need say thank you. And I need to ask apologies for my english, I am Brazilian and I training to be fluent on English but I am not yet. So..sorry hahaha

    Can I invited you to visit my blog?
    http://calma-eutolendo.blogspot.com.br/

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