Disclaimer: Increasing traffic to your blog is not the same as making money off of your blog. Granted, the two most definitely go hand in hand, and obviously high traffic is a necessity to earn anything by blogging, but this post has nothing to do with making money off of your blog.Let's begin!
Find an outlet for your creativity!
Something that is working very well for me is Tastespotting. According to their About section, Tastespotting delivers the creme de la creme of delectable food and drink - meant to inspire and feed the addiction that foodies have for deliciousness. If their team of editors feels your image is worthy, they post it to their front page, the picture links to your site. Instant traffic - if your image is enticing enough.
I noticed the biggest traffic jump this blog has ever experienced on the day that my Layered Finger Jello image made the front page of Tastespotting - 519 visits! Why? Because it's unique. I was making the dessert anyway, so I took half an hour, shot a variety of pictures and wrote a simple post (how hard is it to type out a recipe?), then submitted my best image to Tastespotting.
Not big on taking pictures of your food? Try a few of these imagery sites to get your URL out into the WWW.
NotCot.org - sharing your ideas, aesthetics and amusements.
NotCouture - for your luxe and fashion indulgences.
Which leads me to Blog Carnivals - participate in them!
Taking note of the great traffic I received from the Layered Finger Jello post, I submitted it to Carnival of the Recipes knowing full well it would garner me another full day of traffic - and I didn't have to do any further work aside from submitting the post!
I myself participate in approximately 12 carnivals at the moment. It's important to keep track of the carnivals you are participating in, because as a courtesy to the hosting blog you need to jot off a quick thank you post within a week of the carnival.
I wrote out all the carnival names, very basic descriptions, submission deadlines and the days of the week these carnivals occur so that I can ensure I keep everything straight. In addition to this, immediately after submitting a post to a carnival, I create a new post in my drafts, post dated for the date the carnival will occur, and have it ready to go so that I of course won't forget I submitted, and so that all I have to do is get the carnival post link on that day, add it to my post and hit Publish.
Track your visitors!
I use a free service from SiteMeter - you add the code to your blog and it counts and tracks who's visiting - some of the fantastic free features include Who's On?, visitors by referrals, world map, out clicks and entry pages, and visits according to the current day, previous 7 or 30 days and even past 12 months.
Comment comment comment!
I cannot emphasize this one enough. Go comment crazy - if you have the time to read 9,367,245 or even just 3 blogs a day, you have the time to write a quick note saying hello. If the site you are commenting on participates in the I Follow movement, it counts as a nod your way - and even if it doesn't, you can almost bet the farm the blogger themself (or even other readers) are going to come check out your blog to see who you are.
Commenting on other blogs is most certainly a big deal - but so is responding to comments left for you on your blog. Everyone loves to be acknowledged!
Post Quality Material!
In regards to your actual published content - what makes a great post?
The most important one for me is Quality Over Quantity. Just because you posted 6 times today doesn't mean you'll get more readers. In fact, it may turn off people already reading your blog because there isn't anything terribly interesting for them to read! Especially if they are using an RSS feed or some other reader service that alerts them with every new post - it can get annoying!
So what's in a quality post?
It depends on where your interests lie. My blog happens to be about food and recipes, Baby Bear and his medical issues, living frugally, being environmentally friendly and then occasionally I do some pretty informative posts like this one. Posts like this aren't just a whip it out fast and nasty one night stand. Oh no - for example, I worked on this post for 4 days; researching, typing and editing and retyping, rearranging paragraphs, scouring the web for all the information I could relating to this post topic...it was a lot of work!
Inform your readers. See something on the news or in a magazine or on another blog or website that you found interesting, shocking, wonderful, sad, etc? Do a post that links to said something, but add your own two cents in the post!
Think you have the best stew recipe? Type out the recipe and include your own photos of the process or at least the finished product.
Did you recently renovate your home and want to share your trials and tribulations? That can help others who might be considering a renovation.
Do a few product reviews of things you love.
Interview fellow bloggers or people you know in real life, especially if they have something worth sharing. For example, your Grandmother may have lived through a war, and will have tips on how to live the frugal life to the extreme!
It's fairly easy to inform your readers - if you have something worth sharing, share it!
Do your prep. Outline future blog posts if you have some free time. I'm occasionally asked how I find the time to blog everyday with a 9 month old baby. It's because I make the most of the free time I have - once the dishes, laundry, diapering, cleaning, meals, etc are done that is. Not only do I usually have the blog in the back of my head somewhere throughout the day, but if I have an idea for a post, I'll make a quick abbreviated note so that I can actualize it later. I will set up posts for each day even if the title stays ?? for a few days.
Create a 101 list. People love lists. It could be a list of your goals, the books you've read, your favorite songs - anything! You'd be surprised at how many times '101' is included in Google search results.
Take a stand on an issue! Even if it's a hot button topic like abortion or female sterilization. The object is to get people to read your blog and if you present your opinion in a clear and concise manner (you cannot just state "I think restricting the number of children a family can have is a great idea,"), the comments will begin, fast and furious.
Spell and grammar check! This is sort of obvious, isn't it? Check your spelling, ensure your grammar is correct before hitting that Publish button!
Join communities and blogrolls.
You'll notice in my left hand sidebar that I'm a part of quite a few bloggy communities, directories and blogrolls. Don't know where to start? Check these out:
There are others that are not free - check out Strongest Links.com and you'll see, in order of Google Page Rank (and you can rearrange how the list is sorted) which directories are the best.
Find some that fit your blog and join!
Participate in Theme Days!
Theme days are certain days of the week that you regularly post about the same thing. For example, some of the ones I've seen often are Menu Plan Monday (post your menu for the upcoming week), Wordless Wednesday (pictures that speak a thousand words), and Freebie Friday (scour the Internet for freebies to post every Friday). Here's a list of Theme Days to get you started - you don't have to do them all and probably shouldn't, as your readers will want to see your actual writing once in a while, but if you pick 1 or 2 each week, readers come to depend on seeing that post and will return to see those specifically.
Menu Plan Monday
Tackle It Tuesday
Works For Me Wednesday
And that's my contribution to increasing your site's traffic - I sincerely hope that at least one of the items I mentioned will help even just a bit!
Thanks to the following sites for their helpful information:
Amy at MomAdvice
Chilihead & Shannon at Blogging Basics 101
The Daily Meme
Allen Gardyne of Associate Program