A few months into my blogging journey, I had a post published on a Tuesday at noon (as I usually do). And then…hardly any traffic came to my blog. By the end of that Tuesday, my blog had just four viewers for the whole day, two of whom were me—me visiting my blog on my phone, to make sure the post came out okay on phones, and me visiting my blog on my laptop, to make sure the blog came out okay on computers.
So, to those of you who are frustrated because their blogs are not getting as much traffic as you had hoped, I was once one of you. Therefore, I hope that my past experiences with disappointment from low traffic will be of wisdom and even encouragement to some of you.
I will start by saying this—if you’re discouraged with your readership when you’ve been blogging for 12 months or less, please be patient with yourself. Building a loyal readership takes time, and if your blog is just a few weeks or a couple months old, you have likely not blogged for long enough to have cultivated that loyal readership. For many bloggers, that sort of work takes years. So please, don’t give up when your fifth post only has four readers, with three of the readers being you and your parents.
If you have been blogging for over a year and you still see little or no traffic, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you publish your blog posts on a regular basis, at least once every other week?
Do you have relevant images on your blog posts?
Do your posts use tags? (And, if you’re not sure what tags are, the answer is likely no, and feel free to ask me about tags in the comments section below.)
Do you share your posts on social media?
Do you interact with other bloggers by commenting on and subscribing to their blogs so that you see the bloggers’ posts?
Do you make friends and family aware of your blog?
If your answer to any of these questions is no, then you are not doing enough to grow your blog audience. In coming blog tips posts on this blog, I will talk about why doing each of these things will help you grow your blog audience.
However, even if the answers to all these questions are yes, you should see whether you are having any issues with the content of the posts themselves that may be turning readers off. Issues with posts that turn readers off or keep readers away from your blog (speaking as a reader myself) include poor grammar, bad spelling, incorrect facts, a lack of focus on your topic for your post, and a lack of direction on your blog (example: if you go from talking about basketball to talking about politics in your hometown).
Hopefully, the above paragraphs provide bloggers with some ideas on how to grow blog traffic, if someone is struggling with it. That being said, if other bloggers have additional tips on growing blog traffic, feel free to comment below!
Please note that in observance of the 4th of July, I won’t publish a post next week.
One of the ongoing struggles—even more so given the misinformation coming from places of power (if you are a blog that talks about politics)—is to discern which sources to use when writing your posts. As such, I think it is important to dedicate a blog tips post to talking about which sources of information to trust, because if we fail in discerning which sources to trust, we are doing an injustice to both ourselves and our readers.
I will start by advocating for the use of sources to begin with. Even if your post is completely opinion-based, it is worthwhile to at least look at sources (even if you don’t cite them in your post) to make sure your opinion is based on facts.
But how can we, and how should we, discern which sources to trust?
I think that we should consider three things: currency, bias, and sourcing, or CBS (no, not the acronym for the network and major news source in the United States, though hopefully this acronym will make what I’m saying easy to remember).
Currency: Do we know when the piece was written, and if so, is the piece current?
You will want to see when the piece was written. If you don’t see a date on a particular piece, then I would recommend avoiding the source, as there would be no way of knowing whether the piece is current or was written several years ago.
Many sources show when the article was published. Please look at the date! There’ve been a number of times over the years when a news article would spread like wildfire on social media, but the article would turn out to be something published years ago even though some people (even some social media friends) would be promoting it as if current. The last thing you want is for your blog to be a source of promoting old news that’s no longer relevant.
Note: This is not to say that an old piece can’t be relevant. For example, a story from 2009 on Joe Biden’s role during the collapsing of the automobile industry is still relevant to today because it is a part of the extensive record of the president-elect, and particularly his record on handling crises. However, a piece from 2009 on a current events issue is not a piece to rely heavily on, other than for the purposes of seeing how a particular issue was being covered back in 2009.
Bias: What sort of bias might your source have?
I do not believe that there is no such thing as a source or an article with no bias whatsoever. Everyone has some level of bias. But that’s why it is really important to discern the bias of the source you’re reading.
An easy way to do this for news sources is to visit a site such as “Media Bias/Fact Check” and see where the news source (if the source you are looking at is on the site) fits along the spectrum of bias. If you are looking at a source and it falls into the categories of “least biased,” “left-center,” or “right-center” on Media Bias/Fact Check, then chances are quite high that the source is well-balanced and trustworthy. I will make a note, though, that if the source you are looking at has a “left-center” or “right-center” leaning, you may want to look at other generally credible sources (according to Media Bias/Fact Check or other well-regarded sites rating news sources based on media bias) to make sure that what you are reading is true. However, I would strongly recommend against using far-left and far-right sources, such as Huffington Post a Fox News, in your blog posts—such sources may be skewed to a particular viewpoint, unreliable as sources, and can result in producing an unreliable blog post.
Sourcing: What sources does the piece use?
All too often, an article posts about a particular issue or subject matter but does not quote anyone. Or, if they quote someone, it is someone who is not reputable or some entity that is not reputable (or someone who is “anonymous” or an “unnamed source”). If you come across a source like that, then the source you’re reading is not one you want to draw many conclusions from.
If you’re not sure whether the source (or sources) of knowledge for the piece is reputable, do a quick search of the person, people, or entities cited in the piece you’re reading, and/or do a search for the person who wrote the piece you’re reading. For example, if you’re reading an article on economic issues that cites findings from the Brookings Institution, then a quick search will help you find that the Brookings Institution is a highly respected center to center-left think tank that covers a variety of issues, including economics. But, if you’re reading a source on COVID-19 where only a podiatrist is cited, then you might not want to cite the source in your blog post.
So now that I’ve gone over things we should consider when discerning which sources to use in a blog post, what should we do if we have serious doubts about the source’s currency, bias, and/or source (CBS)?
Personally, I think it’s best to avoid citing any piece where there are serious doubts about its currency, bias, or source. If we use a piece with doubts about its currency, we run the risk of writing a blog post based on outdated information. I would also recommend against using sources with a far-left or far-right bias, because use of such sources can result in oft-inaccurate blog posts. I would also be careful with a piece when there are doubts about the sourcing, regardless of bias—the last thing we want is a blog post based on dubious sourcing (even if the article you are reading is not from a publication with a far-left or far-right bias).
But, regardless of my own personal take of what pieces to avoid or not, we need to remember how important CBS (not the network) is to determine which sources to use in our blog posts. Because if we don’t discern what we use in our blog posts on currency, bias, and sourcing, then we run the risk of our blogs becoming sources of misinformation.
Please note that as next week is Thanksgiving, I will not publish a blog post.
 I will be mostly referring to news sources in this post, but what I say here could be applicable to other types of sources.
 This post could double up as a “blind injustice” type of post, but given the amount of misinformation being spread online, I wanted to write this as a blog tips post so as to hopefully prevent readers from also unwittingly becoming sources of misinformation.
As some of my readers may’ve seen, I accepted another blogging award in the past couple of weeks. I’ve tended to enjoy accepting these awards and “paying it forward” to other bloggers by nominating deserving bloggers for those awards.
However, I also realize that not all bloggers have the same attitudes I do about awards. I’ve heard of bloggers who have an indifferent attitude about awards, and bloggers who even dislike accepting them. Given the differing attitudes about awards, I think that a good follow-up to my recent blog award acceptance is to express my own thoughts about blog awards, and give room for open conversation about them in the comments section below.
So…blogging awards: To accept or not to accept?
Really, it’s all up to you. You, the recipient of the award, can choose to accept or not accept the award, and I think there are valid reasons to accept and valid reasons not to accept. And, if you accept the award, you can choose what that acceptance of the award looks like.
Therefore, instead of giving a definitive “you must accept” or “you must not accept,” I think it would be helpful to outline some benefits I’ve seen to accepting blog awards through award acceptance posts, as well as some pitfalls.
Among the benefits I’ve seen for accepting blog awards include the following:
These award acceptance posts give an opportunity to share things about myself that I would otherwise not share.
The award acceptance posts tend to give me an opportunity to highlight the work of deserving bloggers, through nominating said bloggers for the award.
I really enjoy sharing good news about myself and my blog.
Not that I have ever intended this to be a benefit, but it seems like my blog following grows by a decent amount after I accept an award nomination.
But, I have also noticed some pitfalls to the blog award posts. Here are a few pitfalls I’ve seen:
Blog award posts, and particularly award posts where you need to nominate other bloggers for the award, take a lot of work and time. Honestly, identifying other deserving bloggers is the most time-consuming part of a blog award post for me, and formulating my own questions for other bloggers’ blog award acceptances is also a time-consuming process.
While I enjoy sharing more things about myself, some questions from some blog award posts may require people to answer questions about themselves they might not feel comfortable answering in a public realm.
I haven’t gotten to this point as a blogger yet, but I’ve seen some bloggers get nominated for awards often enough that accepting every award post would mean more award posts a month than they might like.
The decision on whether to publish an award acceptance post or not should come down to one thing and one thing only: whether you feel that the award posts are a net benefit for you and your blog, or a net drawback. If it is a net benefit, then go ahead and publish those award posts. If it’s a net drawback, then you may want to consider something other than a traditional award post—what you should consider depends on what the biggest drawbacks and benefits are for you. Personally, if I get to the point that I get so many blog award posts that it would be too time-consuming and get me too much away from the focus of my blog (outweighing any benefits), then I might consider doing something similar to what Ashley at Mental Health @ Home does—in some form of wrap-up post (for me, possibly a wrap-up post for the year, as opposed to a wrap-up post for the week in Ashley’s case), thanking bloggers who nominated the blog for certain awards.
Am I missing any benefits or drawbacks to accepting blog award posts? Do you accept blog award posts, and why have you reached your decision? Feel free to talk about these things and anything else relevant to blogging awards in the comments section below!