Hello! I’m Chelsey from Budget Girl and I’m so excited to be guest posting for Deby!
First, a little backstory. I started blogging in October 2012. In September 2013, I began self-hosting. My desire was, and is, to monetize…which means my efforts in getting my blog seen have quadrupled. I feel that’s important to note because, without full-time-job-level effort, getting a blog off the ground and into Monetization Mode can be very difficult.
One question I have been receiving a lot since self-hosting is this: “How have you gotten so many followers on *insert social media platform here*?” It’s an interesting question that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
If I were to pick the single most important thing I did for my blog, it would be utilizing as many social media platforms as possible. I definitely have a top three—which I’ll be sharing with you all, and I’m pretty sure my list will surprise you!—but there are so many that are useful in ways that, one year ago, I couldn’t have imagined.
I should probably begin by saying that I will not be including Search Engines, even though they are by far my most lucrative source of traffic. The reason I won’t be talking about that is because it involves a whole messy needs-to-be-its-own-post deal with SEO. Plus, Deby already wrote a post on that topic, so let’s move on.
Anyone who blogs about food isn’t surprised that Pinterest is not only my number one source of traffic, but that it is literally thousands of hits higher than my number two. In fact, there is a 9,000 point drop from Pinterest to my second highest platform.
How did that happen?: Believe it or not, my numbers weren’t that high this time last year. It wasn’t until late last spring that I completely revamped how I handled Pinterest.
It began with pictures. I learned how to take better ones and then I used a free program called PicMonkey to add overlays and text. The reason this is important is because, besides the fact that no one wants to pin an ugly picture, people are also kind of lazy. I don’t mean that in a mean way, I mean it as an undeniable truth. I’m just as lazy. In fact, my own laziness is what inspired me to make these changes! The first thing I judge a pin on is what the picture looks like. And since I do most of my pinning from a mobile device, I prefer to be able to tell what a pin is about without having to scroll to the bottom and read the description.
The second change I made is that I started tagging. Tagging is invaluable and I used to hate it. I still kind of do, actually. I hate those ugly little hashtags taking up space and I hate how obnoxious it comes off to anyone who doesn’t blog. But it’s important, even if non-bloggers don’t understand why. It allows you to use keywords—not included in your title—to help people find your posts. They type keywords into a search box and boom! You pop up. It’s magical. This isn’t just a Pinterest thing, either. You can use it on basically any kind of social media platform, like….
2. Facebook & StumbleUpon
While we were discussing a topic for my guest post, Deby and I agreed that three would be a perfect number because, as she phrased it, “Who has time for more than three?” Agreed! I went in fairly confident that StumbleUpon would be in and Facebook would be out…but to double-check, I looked at the numbers. It turns out, Facebook and StumbleUpon have been leap-frogging one another for the last few of months. This surprised me, most of all because there is such a huge difference in how long I’ve had each one.
StumbleUpon was one of the very first social media sites that I utilized. I discovered it while I was in college, sitting through an incredibly boring lecture. StumbleUpon became a great way to silently entertain myself in classes taught by professors who insisted on reading to us directly from the textbook (ugh). So when I created my blog, I knew immediately that it was something I needed to incorporate to get my numbers flowing. For once, my intuition was right. StumbeUpon gets me hundreds of hits each day.
How did that happen?: My guess is that it’s because using it is so simple. Most browsers allow you to have add-ons or extensions. Just search for something like, “Google Chrome StumbleUpon” and install the add on. Create an account and you’ll be able to give different websites a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” (I think in Firefox, it’s either, “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” Either way.) Most likely your content is going to be safe-for-work, so just pick a category and type in some tags for your post. And, yes, you have to do this for every single post. Fortunately, it doesn’t take very long!
Once you have it set up, Stumble users just have to click their Stumble buttons and get taken to some random page on the Internet. That’s all it takes to use the program. You click “Stumble” until you find something you like. Every time you “like” something, StumbleUpon uses it to hone in on your interests and then shows you more things it thinks you’ll like. It’s incredibly easy and can provide hours of entertainment.
Facebook, on the other hand, was utilized in September 2013, when I began self-hosting. Which is why it is such a huge surprise to me that its All Time numbers are the same as StumbleUpon’s. How strange!
How did that happen?: With Facebook, I basically do the same thing as with Pinterest. Upload a photo, type in the name, tags, and then end with the link back to the post. I use the WordPress.org client, so it actually posts to Facebook on my behalf…but it doesn’t add tags or anything. I let it post, anyway, just in case I can’t get to it. But when I can, I delete the original post and create another with the tags included (I really wish Facebook would just let me edit them).
This is, again, another site that I utilized immediately after creating my blog. I’ve been using Tumblr for years just as something to do when I’m bored. It’s a great source of entertainment. The great thing about Tumblr is how easy it is. I don’t do a single thing! Again, I use the WordPress.org client, so I can’t speak for any other blogging site. But I have my account set up to post on my behalf and it even add the tags for me! It’s awesome.
Still, many people haven’t heard of it and even those who have don’t use it to their advantage. Whenever I tell someone about Tumblr being one of my top traffic sources, I always receive a surprised, “Really!?” Yes, really!
How did that happen?: Tumblr is like Pinterest in how it can be utilized, but different in how it’s set up. (The difference that I love the most is that you can have multiple user names attached to one account. No switching back and forth between business and personal!)
The first thing people look at on Tumblr are the images, so my improved pictures have helped a lot. (Though text posts are also just as popular depending on the topic, so don’t worry if pictures aren’t your thing.) And tags are very important with Tumblr. They’re used for everything! I can even see what tags people are using to find me. (Which is something none of the other platforms do…Pinterest shows me a series of numbers that is supposed to represent the pin someone used to find me, but is very unhelpful). Note: the tag most used to find my blog on Tumblr is “DIY.”
My only problem with Tumblr is the image-stealing bloggers. This isn’t just a problem with my blog, it’s a problem with basically all blogs. It’s not unusual for someone to “reblog” something I posted and then change the link from my page to their own. Putting a watermark on your image can end that—I had a ridiculously large one on my images for a long time, but I was unhappy with how it looked so I got rid of it.
Even with other bloggers stealing my credit, Tumblr made it into my top 3-ish list. So it’s definitely worth the effort!
But, what about…?
I know many of you are probably wondering why Twitter and Bloglovin didn’t make the cut. First, Bloglovin would have if I had gone to five. Twitter, on the other hand, doesn’t even make my top ten. I’ve found Twitter to be sort of useless (though not enough to stop using it) and I think I understand why…to an extent.
Twitter does work for a lot of people. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be so popular. The problem is that you have to constantly be tweeting in order to be heard. I have neither the patience nor the time (…nor anything new to say that would fit into the 140 character limit). I’ve witnessed Tweeters sit there for hours and tweet back and forth with each other. If you’re not willing to do the same and essentially spam your followers with constant tweets, you’re going to get buried and your tweets will go unseen.
It does get me some traffic, though, so I certainly advocate using it.
Obviously what does and doesn’t work for me may be different for others. It will depend greatly on your audience and on the topics you prefer to write about. So my best tips are to use what work, what you have time for, and automate whenever possible!