The Ultimate Guide to Blogging in 2021
Blogging is one of the best ways to make money online. While so many people are pouring efforts solely into social media, a blog and email list are two areas you own and have control over. And that is liberating! You can post what you want, when you want, and you can grow your other social media channels through your blog.
Yes, blogging is still very important and relevant. So here’s my ultimate guide to blogging in 2021, how you can establish your blog, grow your traffic and make more money.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you choose to click through and make a purchase, I make a small commission at no cost to you. I was compensated to create this post, but all opinions are my own.
I have about 250,000 page views every month, 130,000 newsletter subscribers, and 166,000 Instagram followers. This blog is a full time job for both my husband and myself. And I credit that to consistently driving quality traffic to my blog and social media. But this didn't happen over night!
The first time my blog went viral I was ecstatic: this is it. I’m going to be able to quit my job and go full time. I’ve done it! I’ve cracked the code.
My post on a music festival in Belgium was being read tens of thousands of times a day.
Goodbye to my 9-5 and the hours I spent working for someone else instead of myself.
I didn’t understand that blogging is not just about going viral or getting page views. Blogging is about making people care about you long enough to stick around and keep reading again and again.
You can have the best SEO strategy, write amazing articles, and have great traffic but still not monetize your blog effectively, or for long periods of time. When you’re able to establish yourself as an authority and create a connection on an emotional level with an audience that cares, you will become a successful blogger.
And I’m going to show you how! One thing I’m really going to focus on in this post is how to get people to go from your social media to your blog and vice versa.
Why should you listen to me?
For the past 5 years I’ve worked as a full time blogger and content creator. My background is in social media and marketing, and my job before blogging was to help large companies establish their blogs and create engagement on social media.
Now, I've turned my efforts over to my own blog and continue to write articles that I hope share how you can grow your blog, too. I want to share with you time and tested strategies but I also want to share new tips that will help you grow that you might not have tried before. I'm focusing on 3 strategies I've used to grow my blog traffic to 2 million readers a year. And if I can, so can you. So, let’s get to it.
First, if you need to start a blog from scratch, check out this post.
Creating Powerful Content
No matter how hard you try, you have to share great content in order to get people to read it. Ask yourself this: why did you start a blog in the first place? Was it to share your talent or knowledge? Grow your social media? Tell stories? Think about the why behind it.
We all want more traffic. When we have more views it means more people care about what we write, we get more followers, we have more interest, and we find out what works. It also means we can sell more, whether our own products, affiliate links, or sponsored posts. But how do you grow your traffic?
First things first, you need to understand it- where is it coming from? What posts are popular? How long are people staying on your site? Or are they just bouncing off (this is known as bounce rate, the time someone spends on your blog or if they click and “bounce” off because your blog didn't provide what they were looking for)? The BEST way to find all this out is Google Analytics. I've got a full tutorial for you right here.
Now, look at other bloggers you find engaging. Follow creators you admire or want to emulate. What kinds of things do they share on their blogs and social media and what sparks interest for you? Don’t forget to reach out to them and tell them that something they said influenced you! This helps you establish a relationship with them.
Chances are what they are sharing is entertaining or informative. Maybe it’s both. Start writing down things online that particularly spark your interest. I have a saved folder on Instagram and Pinterest for content that really moves me. Now, what's the reason behind why we actively follow someone? There’s usually a reason we follow someone else. Whether they are helpful or inspiring one thing has to happen: we need to connect with their stories.
So often I see bloggers writing great content, but there’s no heart or story behind it. If you know why you’re writing and you’re following others you find inspirational then don’t forget to put a story behind what you share. Stories create connections and make you relatable and endearing to the reader. When I opened this post I started with a story.
It doesn’t need to be long, but stories are some of the most effective ways to turn casual readers into followers. These are people that buy your products, follow you on Instagram, or better still, share about you to others.
As far as the content you create goes, here’s what most important in 2021. If you’d like to read a full guide on writing blog posts, check out this post.
- Create a click worthy headline – this needs to be catchy and interesting to make people stop, read, and want to know more.
- Update old blog posts. This is a simple but effective way to gain traffic. Go back to some of your older blog posts and update them. Don’t forget to share the last updated date so people will know it’s fresh content.
- Make sure your posts are SUPER easy to share. That's one of the best ways to get more eyes on your site. I highly recommend the Social Warfare plugin. I’ll be discussing social media shares below.
- Streamline your blog and make it easy to read. That means ensuring your text size is large enough and there’s a convenient way to search. My ad network, Medivine, says that increasing your font size will help with ranking in SEO due to Google using mobile-first indexing.
- Give people a reason to keep following. I try to always incorporate a link to my Instagram and my newsletter in each blog post. But I don’t just expect people to click and follow. Usually, there’s a benefit for them to follow me there. I give them a freebie or tell them a story to entice them to follow or subscribe.
Whether you optimize your blog for SEO or not, we want to create content that is useful or helpful. When we do that, people want to continue to read our blogs.
I am a big believer in creating a strong subscriber base on your blog and the best way to do that is with a newsletter. I suggest checking out Constant Contact – an all in one email marketing platform. Not only can you email your subscribers (with news about your blog, social media, your services, or affiliate links) but you can also create surveys and social media campaigns. This is unlike any other email platform out there. You can get a free 60 day trail of Constant Contact here!
Disclosure: I earn a commission from Constant Contact if you use my referral link to make a purchase at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support.
Read more: How to turn your blog into a business.
You’ve put all this time and effort into your blog, don’t forget to put effort into sharing on social media! I once read an article about an extremely popular blog. The author said he put 20% of his effort creating the content and 80% in sharing it. That has stuck with me ever since.
What’s the point in creating the content if no one is going to read it? This past year, for the first time ever, Pinterest was just as important traffic source for me as Google. Both are incredible ways to grow your blog traffic and find new followers and readers.
What I want to focus on is getting people to follow you on social media AND engage with your blog. We want both of these platforms to influence and grow each other. I personally focus on two social media channels: Instagram and Pinterest. Pinterest because it’s the biggest driver of traffic to my blog and Instagram because it’s the best place to establish a connection with my readers.
More and more people are turning to Pinterest to grow their blogs because it’s such an effective way, for any blogger, well established or brand new, to gain page views.
But Pinterest became an even more effective tool for me because of Tailwind. Tailwind allows me to schedule my Pinterest pins and Instagram posts for the best possible engagement. And it works extremely well.
We call Pinterest social media, when in fact it’s more like a search engine. Meaning, it's algorithm understands what you're interested in and shows you pins based on that. I might see pins based on things I like: travel, beauty, exercise, blogging, Instagram, etc.
Tailwind is one of the most important tools on my blog. Since 2016 I've been heralding the unique aspects of Tailwind that have helped double, even triple my blog's pageviews. I use it for a variety of reasons. The first is that I can schedule my pins in bulk. I have dozens of Pinterest boards. With Tailwind I can easily share pins to these boards and schedule them to go live at different times, all in a few clicks.
Tailwind is smart enough to understand Pinterest’s algorithm and specifies when these pins should go live. It also has safeguards in place so I don’t pin too often.
Next there’s the ever important Smart Loop feature. Let’s say you write a piece of evergreen content (content that has staying power and is relevant for years and years, for example, my guide to Chamonix) with the Smart Loop feature it allows me to automatically reshare pins. Tailwind literally does the work for you and sorts your pins by most recent or popular. You can even narrow it down by board or search the pins so you can find the exact pins that you’re looking for.
There are also Tailwind Communities, which I’ve written about before, but allow you to find other bloggers and pinners to connect with based on topics that help you grow your own account. You share high quality pins from them, which in turn helps grow your account, and they share pins from you within the community. It’s a win-win.
On top of all that, the analytics are very detailed for Pinterest inside of Tailwind to see what’s working and what’s not.
But Tailwind also has Instagram features that are highly important and strategic. You can schedule Instagram posts at optimal times, plan content and find hashtags for your posts. But my favorite, and most important for growing your blog as well as Instagram is the Smart.Bio.
One of the things I hear again and again from content creators on Instagram is that they can’t get people to actually read their blogs. I find this happens because people can’t find what they’re looking for.
As a lifestyle blogger I talk about a variety of subjects: travel, blogging, social media, fashion, dogs, etc. So if someone goes to my blog they might get overwhelmed trying to find what they are looking for. With Smart.bio I create an easy list of links for people to get exactly what they need. Don’t forget to customize the link page for your brand color!
I’ve always been a big believer in sharing on Instagram when your audience is most active. When you connect your Instagram account to Tailwind, it knows when your Instagram audience is most engaged. The SmartSchedule picks the best times for you to post so you can get more out of every post.
Lastly, the hashtag finder allows you to do hashtag research (this is how I’ve gotten my Instagram posts in front of tens, even hundreds of thousands more people). Simply put in a hashtag, then Tailwind will give you ideas of hashtags based on: niche, good, best, and competitive along with how many people are using those hashtags so you know whether or not you’ll be able to rank for them. I basically think of hashtags as SEO for Instagram.
If you’d like an in-depth look at the best tools for your blog check out this post.
As I mentioned, I focus on Instagram and Pinterest when it comes to sharing on social media. I always recommend to focus on one or two social media channels in order to maximize your opportunities to reach your ideal reader. And, to leave you time to also practice good SEO habits.
I do research before I write blog posts, I write detailed guides, and I try to rank on Google. That’s really all SEO is: writing content that shows up first on Google. Yes, it’s more technical than that, but the gist is just that! Some quick tips for SEO every time you post:
- Interlink your own posts.
- Link to other relevant content
- Research blog posts to see if you can rank for that keyword or topic (I like the tool Keysearch or Ubersuggest is a free tool!)
- Write clear, concise blog post titles that make people want to click
- Use headings inside your blog posts – this helps tell Google what your blog post is all about and helps index it for search
- Write detailed posts. Most of my blog posts are over 2,000 words. The reason being is longer content ranks better on Google
If you’re a new blogger keep in mind it takes about 6 months to a year for Google to index your site. So focus on creating highly valuable content always. See more about how to use social media to grow your blog, here.
Growing and Monetizing
Now that we’ve talked about creating great content and sharing it, let’s continue growing and monetizing your blog for 2021.
First and foremost you can make money from your blog RIGHT NOW. The easiest is affiliate advertising. When you write well thought out content, chances are you will link outside your blog. For example, I mentioned Chamonix above. Well in my guide to Chamonix I will link where to stay. That link might be an affiliate link. If someone books a stay based on my recommendation, I make a small commission.
The world of advertising has changed so significantly over the past 10 years. People are looking to bloggers and content creators to make decisions and purchases. It’s not only a good idea, it’s part of your role as a blogger for you to make recommendations. And you should be paid for that. Especially when you share content in a creative way or way that influencers people to buy.
You can sign up for individual affiliate programs or join larger affiliate programs that house many different brands and products under one place. An example is Amazon, RewardStyle (aka Liketoknow.It), Commission Junction, and Affiliate Window.
Start thinking about programs, products, services, or recommendations you can make and how you can link within your blog posts. Especially if you have a popular blog post, start adding affiliate links there.
Of course, you can also monetize through advertising aka Display Ads. These are ads on your blog and within your content. I love this because it’s a passive way to monetize. Just keep in mind that it’s important that your ads aren’t too much of a distraction from your blog posts.
I personally have Mediavine Ad Network, which you can sign up for when you have 50,000 sessions per month on your blog. When you grow your blog’s page views the more money you can make through ad networks.
Sponsored posts are also an incredible way for bloggers to earn income. Instead of getting an affiliate commission, you can work with a company and be paid a fee to review or include a product or service on your blog.
Lastly, you can sell your own products and services. This can be anything and everything. I’ve sold both information products (ebooks, courses, Lightroom presets) and physical products (I started a candle line). Creating a product takes more time and energy but often offers the most in terms of monetizing. I suggest starting with affiliate advertising and display ads and over time you can add other sources of income to your blog.
For a in-depth look at how to monetize your blog, check out this guide.
Also read: 10 things every blog needs to make money.
When you become a valuable resource to a reader, they will continue to trust you, read your blog, and buy from you.
In review, here's how to have an epic blog in 2021:
1. Create helpful, engaging content that people crave.
2. Give people a reason to keep coming back to your blog.
3. Share effectively on social media by using tools to help you grow, I recommend Tailwind.
4. Monetize your blog in ways that suit you, and add in new ways to make money as you grow.
Blogging is a lot of work. But we do it because we're passionate and it gives us a place to create, share, and connect with others unlike anything else. We also own it, algorithm changes mean we still have control over our content. While many things have changed and will continue to, I know that I always have my blog to turn to. Here's to a successful and epic 2021!
Pin this post or schedule it with Tailwind 🙂
Thank you to Tailwind for sponsoring this post! As always, my opinions are my own.