How to Grow Your Blog

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This post may contain affiliate links.

Hi there, before you start reading I’ll say upfront that I wrote this post almost 6 years ago. In those 6 years, I’ve learnt a LOT more and we now make a very good living from our websites or blogs. My husband no longer works, this blog supports our family of 4 as we travel the world. 

Today we have 300,000 page views per month on this site. Everything in this post is valid still and will stand you, as a new blogger, in good stead. It has the basics of how to grow your blog but these days I’m far more expert.

Things change constantly in blogging as Google tweaks its algorithms. Anything that is inaccurate for current Google algorithms, I try to remove.

Read on, everything in this post is free to help get you started. No courses, no charges, no way. Beware courses.

After you take a look at this post, find our more recent blogging content. Go to the top menu bar and select “Blogging” but please have a quick scan of this post first. It illustrates progression and development in the blogging industry.

tips to grow audience

Grow Your Blog

If I can grow a blog, you can do it to!

Two years ago this week  I bought our name, organised hosting and set up my brand new blog over the course of a weekend.

I had years of experience as a web designer, marketer, journalist and travel correspondent…Don’t be silly.

I knew nothing about blogging!

I was setting out into something totally unknown, I’d had a blog for a few months, just for fun, which had shown me that I really enjoyed the blogging world and that I wanted to take it further.

Travel blogging is a thing that makes money, that was news to me back in September 2012. I’d never even seen a travel blog before then.

Part of travelling long-term for us has been making this blog work, we couldn’t possibly do it with no income after the first batch of savings ran out.  Neither of us has the sort of profession that happens online, so we had to get a new one. It’s working out OK, after a lot of trial and error.

This post may contain affiliate links, they will cost you nothing extra if you use them and all views are 100% genuine, as always. Scroll down to see how much money affiliate advertising is making for us (not much!)

How Much Can a Blog Grow in 2 Years?

2 year screen shot 600

No record-breaking growth here but a slow, steady progression. I’m sure your graph could be much steeper if you knew what you were doing right from day one.

Back in September I never thought for 1 minute that I’d be playing on the same field as my newly discovered favourite bloggers, Gabi of The Nomadic Family and Erin Bender of Travel With Bender.

I poured over their blogs looking for inspiration and tips for our soon-to-start travels and to learn how this thing should be done.

2 years in, I’m there, we’re in a good place.

We currently have around 33,000 page views per month, that’s enough to be interesting to sponsors and advertisers. We have just over 2,000 Facebook followers, 4,000 Twitter followers and 2,000 Pinterest fans. It’s not massive, but it’s enough.

We’ve made a little money and we’ve had a lot of free or sponsored perks. They’re not truly free, I work really hard for them, but they’re what keep life, particularly for the kids, lots of fun and what make the 15 hour days at the computer totally worth it.

UPDATE 1: January 2016. We’re at 100+ K PV per month, all the other figures are smashed too. What remains important to us is our kind of travel, as a family. We started this adventure to show the kids the world and give them an amazing education and that is still what matters, not turning the blog into a massive business. But we’re doing OK. 15 hour days at the computer are NEVER worth it, but sometimes, to make the money and meet deadlines, it has to be done.

UPDATE 2: October 2021. The global travel shutdowns of recent years smashed this travel blog. I’ve shared exactly how our income and traffic went into decline in 2020 and 2021. This travel blog does still make money. but about 70% less than it made at the end of 2019. We took this forced pause to grow 6 other blogs and the traffic to those sites is growing nicely.

Tips to Grow Your Blog

I love blogging, although I never felt I wanted to be a blogger or public figure. I love some aspects of social media but it’s been a hard slog to get here and I’ve learned so much you wouldn’t believe.

I guess some people get training like this in university and kids these days grow up with all this, I’ve just picked it up along the way.

The growth we’ve seen in the last 2 years could have been achieved far more quickly if I’d known a few things back at the start. That’s something I can help you with.

When starting new blogs, today, with all this know-how, I get get them earning from advertising and affiliate sales, ranking well in Google, within weeks. It doesn’t take months if you know what you’re doing.

Grow Your Blog Using Social Media

All of the social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, G+, Instagram, Stumble Upon, Linked In, all of them play a part in putting your blog out there and bringing in traffic.

The best way to grow them is to use them regularly, follow loads of people, be genuine, share selflessly and really engage.

You could also use services like Triberr, this free sharing community was crucial in my Twitter growth. Once I joined some prominent Triberr tribes my following took off, but Twitter has never brought me great traffic.

I have now left Triberr and I only share posts I really like, my following is good but Twitter brings few clicks.

To really succeed in social media you have to use them all, it’s very labour intensive and most big bloggers have assistants to take the strain.  I really don’t think it’s possible for 1 person to do it all.

I rarely use Twitter, Stumble Upon or G+ but I’m an expert at Pinterest and Facebook is my second home. Instagram brings some traffic, but like Twitter, numbers are tiny compared to the traffic that comes from Google and other search engines.

I would advise you to create all of your accounts, get the ball rolling and then focus on one social media channel at a time to master.  

Doing them right is important, you could waste a lot of time in haphazard use. We have a Blogging Tips board on Pinterest, it’s a great source of knowledge. I delete any pins that I have read and not found useful (particularly the ones that are adverts for courses and books) so you should find our collection useful too.

In the early days, bloggers social sharing groups gave me a boost, but I think my time would have been better spent creating content, genuinely discovering and sharing other people’s work and making great Pinterest images.

I once increased my traffic by 30% in one month by being very pro-active in sharing groups. As soon as I stopped, traffic went back to its normal level.  In my opinion it’s just not worth it.

Sharing groups do wonders for your Alexa rank because only bloggers have the Alexa toolbar installed, it’s not a genuine statistic, so not one I’m interesting in boosting artificially. However , I feel Alexa gives a far more accurate impression of the size of a site than DA and it’s the first metric I check if I’m checking out your site.

Grow Your Blog Through Networking – Friends and Contacts

Promoting and sharing other blogs is vital to the growth of your own blog. You follow them, they follow you, you read, comment and collaborate, everybody is happy.  

Closer friendships, private sharing groups, collaborative projects and just friendly encouragement are all components of blog success.

I’ve made some great friends, not just other bloggers, followers too. Some of my followers are extremely loyal, they’ve liked and commented on almost every post and over time have become friends. That totally rocks.

Facebook groups for bloggers, friendly groups where questions can be asked and support given, were an invaluable source of knowledge as I started out. They can also be the scene for some nasty battles, tread with care and trust nobody until they’ve proven trustworthy.

I was heavily involved with the groups for a while but now I’ve quit, they were sapping my time. I only share other people’s work if I genuinely like it or think it could be interesting to my readers.

I’m out of the big sharing groups. But I do still have a handful of genuine, like-minded friends in the blogging world. We support each other as we always have and I’m always looking to discover and share new bloggers.

Grow Your Blog Using Good SEO

Start as you mean to go on and read up on SEO before you even buy your domain name. SEO is vital to getting traffic from Google. About 75% of my traffic came from search engines until recently, without decent SEO it just wouldn’t happen.

I am VERY good at SEO, there’s something about it that I love and it is endlessly fascinating. I love figuring out what Google is up to.

I would highly recommend a good SEO plugin to help you. I prefer Yoast Pro over Rank Math. But this site is currently using Rank Math.

Keyword research and targeting is key in blogging to get traffic and to get traffic that converts to sales.

You can read more about increasing affiliate sales in our recent post on making your first $1000 on Amazon.

UPDATE: My Google traffic is now down to under 55% because Pinterest is booming for me.  This is good, we shouldn’t be totally dependent on search engine traffic. The best tip for good SEO: Write great content and don’t cut corners, this post on SEO explains it well and we also have a great post on the basics of SEO, updated for 2018’s Google changes.

Keyword targeting is vital, every post should be targeting a keyword (actually a phrase, also called a long-tail keyword). You can guess your keywords, or you can do proper keyword research to see how many people are searching a particular keyword and how competitive that keyword if.

So, if you’re starting out and your site lacks authority, don’t target keywords Nomadic Matt is using. He’ll outrank you every time, so will I. (update, this is no longer the case in 2018, the best content wins, see our SEO post above but to get your post in front of eyeballs so that it CAN rise to the top, a high DA is a huge help).

Over time your website’s authority will grow and you stand more chance of ranking for more competitive and popular keywords.

These are what tells Google that your site is important. The number of incoming links (AKA back links), recommendations if you like, determine (in part) how far up the search results Google will put you.

You really should be in the top 3 results in your chosen search to get decent traffic. Page 1 at the very least.

There are many ways to get backlinks, some more devious than others. This is also what determines your DA.

While DA is based purely on backlinks, Google’s ranking of your post is based on hundreds of factors.

I have NEVER done any sort of link exchange or aggressively pursued link acquisition, mine have come naturally, organically. These days I’m starting to realise that to play with the big boys, you need to do as they do or be left behind.

You can get a certain level of low quality back links through commenting on blogs. A few years ago you could even get “follow” links from certain big sites, but these are largely gone now.

People used to say that for each blog post you publish, go leave 10 comments on relative, authoritative sites. It’s not the best way, but it does help in the absence of links from National Geographic.

It’s probably more useful in getting your name out there and growing relationships with other bloggers.

Don’t Expect To Get Rich Quick via a Blog

I’ve been experimenting with different affiliate links and money-making ideas for a couple of years. Now, at 50,000 page views per month:

Skyscanner is bringing in a steady trickle, around $12/month.

Agoda is now bringing in decent money, but there has been a steep learning curve. $1000/month seems achievable.

Amazon does OK at Christmas and most months brings in around $200. (See our updated post on making good money as an Amazon affiliate)

My cruise affiliates have so far brought me nothing, which is frustrating as our cruise posts are hugely popular.

Google Adsense is my best steady advertising revenue, around $400/month ( Update: When we switched from Adsense to Mediavine in 2017, our advertising revenue skyrocketed, it’s huge now)

I’ve recently implemented some new affiliate programmes and things are picking up nicely.

Our main income stream is advertising.

I’m still figuring this thing out but you need to find a link for just about everything and place them in the text of every post, again, go to our Pinterest blogging tips board for some great ideas from the big bloggers that I’m busy trying to implement.

I regularly check to see which posts of mine are most popular and make sure those posts have Adsense ads and affiliate links within the body of the text. This has helped things along a lot. I’m not trying to sell anything here, more point people in the direction of the site, there’s no hard sell. I just want people to buy something from the affiliate site within the next month while my cookie is still active, that’s how it works.

Bloggers Need a Tough Skin

With exposure comes vulnerability. I’ve had some nasty comments. You have to learn to just let it go.

Don’t Let The Competition Scare You

Don’t be intimidated by other bloggers, some of them have huge numbers of followers that you may think are unachievable for you.

Know that followers can be bought. $5 gets you a 1,000 Twitter followers, it’s the same for all social media platforms. It looks superficially good but isn’t the best idea, not everyone is fooled by the big numbers.

Time is important, big blogs have been around a long time, if you keep plugging away you’re sure to grow over time.

You (May) Need to Promote Yourself and be Pushy

I’m totally rubbish at this. I’m far too reserved and lacking in confidence, but if you’ve got it, work it.

Always ask for what you need, don’t be scared of rejection, big yourself up, network like crazy,  aggressively pursue goals. If I could do this I would be a lot further ahead than I am.

As this sort of personal promotion takes me right out of my comfort zone. I wait for people to come to me, it’s working and I can live with myself.

Blogs have to have a unique selling point. That could be the person behind it or the sort of travel you do, both of these have brought me amazing opportunities in the last year without having to chase them.

Be yourself and don’t worry what everyone else is doing.

You Need to Be Professional

Keep the rants and hissy fits off your pages. I’ve seen a few people crash and burn. You’re in the business of looking for future job opportunities, keep it clean right from the beginning.

That said, people want to read posts written by human beings, warts and all. I keep it real, it keeps people reading because everyone has bad days and this isn’t a fairy tale.

Branding Grows Your Blog

Consistent logo, fonts, colours and message are key. Stick to who you are, visually and in your tone.

You Need to Love Blogging to Succeed

There will be months and months of work for no to little pay and you can’t do that unless you love what you’re doing. Blogging takes over your life and watching the figures grow can become an addiction.

I get as much pleasure from watching a small site earn $100 a month as I do from watching my big site make $10,000 per month. It’s a challenge, it’s rewarding, blogging brings satisfaction beyond financial gain.

You also need to love what you blog about, you can’t pretend to have a passion for long without the cracks showing.

You Need to Have a Dream

You need to be aiming for the skies and always wanting more. You can never just rest on your laurels, to maintain growth you have to constantly push forwards and keep learning.

Future Blog Goals and Dreams

So that’s it. Our first 2 years of blogging and our first 18 months of full-time travel are in the bag. We’ve had some ups and downs, a few disasters and misadventures, but overall it’s been FREAKING AWESOME!

We’re loving life and the new freedom that we have. It seems that now anything is possible, we can do this thing.

I’d like to get to a point where my husband no longer has to work (Update: He quit in 2017 and only worked part-time to that point), it would be great to be true digital nomads. Realistically, I don’t think that’s going to happen but the balance we have at the moment is acceptable. Most of our freedom has come from being happy with less, less space and less possessions. We genuinely prefer to live this way and we never want to go back to having a house full of “stuff” to tie us down. Best of luck with your blog! These first basic tips to grow your blog are for beginners, if you dive into our site you’ll find far more ways to increase your traffic and blogging income. Head to our blogging section, top menu. Or read our post on how we sold everything to travel the world.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

53 thoughts on “How to Grow Your Blog”

  1. I have read your blogging tips countless times. I do have other websites I turn towards, for a bit more specific how-to steps, but your posts give me the push to keep going.

    Your blogging tips are similar to the aerobics class instructor, who keeps saying, “You can do this, keep going, 3, 4, 5, just a few left to go, 6, 7, 8, keep jumping…”

    I am the kind of blogger, who need that push to keep on going!

    I am doing my best to SE optimize my posts, because I have quite a lot, being a sailing family for almost four years… I still see very little traffic, but I am not giving up. I write well, so it will happen!

    This is just a “thank you” response, not a back link strategy.
    Best luck with your future travels!

    Mina (aka Fun Police aboard Graceful).

    • Aww thanks, that’s really kind. I suspect that sailing the world is very low traffic. Travel, outside of popular destinations, like, say, Orlando, is actually very low traffic compared to, say, food. My tip… do some recipes. I have 1 recipe on this site, literally, an omelette. It was my biggest earning post in January. I keep meaning to do more but I can never think of anything. “Niche” is nonsense, you can post anything you like so long as it fits in your categories and you can give it internal links.

  2. Great post! I agree that focus on one social media channel at a time to master.

  3. One of the most common questions I see involves a beginner blogger. By the way you explain nicely. This is a helpful and useful article. Every newbie blogger should follow every blogging strategy.

    I suggest them that they should make their blogging schedule, means do all work a perfect time and follow routine for everyday for blogging, because it make your work daily whereby you will be crazy about your work.

    They should always keep remember in mind their content is a king and title is queen like without beautiful queen that king is incomplete. Make a attractive title.

    Your regular reader…

  4. This is a fabulous post. It is so genuine and well-written.

    I’ve just started my travel blog and have been scouring blogs for tips and this is my fave so far. Thank you!! I’ll be following all the tips diligently 🙂

    Best wishes

  5. I agree with to focus on one social media channel at a time. It helps to grow faster.

  6. Excellent guide! Even though it’s almost the end of 2018, I still find these tips useful! Mediavine is awesome and im also still learning about building organic backlinks and affilaites. I’m sure you have done very well since this post was posted. Would love to see an updated article of this for this year. 🙂

    • Hi Pete. Yes, this site is well over 6 years old now and does very well . I have lots more to share. I should look at re-writing this but I think I put 2 years in the URL…rookie SEO mistake!

  7. Alyson, I have recently discovered your blog and wanted to tell that you are such an inspiration! I have started my blog 6 month ago, definitely see growth and progress but sometimes I just want to throw in the towel. Thank you for sharing so many details of your blogging and travel life!

  8. I must say hard work leads to success. I am also in blogging from last 5 months, and i try my best to take advice to follow. Great advice on how to grow your blog & also congrats on your 2 year.

    • It’s actually 6 years now Austin and we’re on 160,000 monthly page views. My baby got big! And it’s mostly down to good SEO. Best of luck!

  9. Thanks for such a transparent and detailed post. Your honesty was endearing. Even from reading your post I feel exhausted by all that needs to be done 🙂 but I do love the challenge at the same time. Keep up the inspiring work xxx

  10. Thanks for the tips! We just launched The Family Voyage about a week ago. I love writing and we love family travel, so blogging seems like a natural fit. I’m definitely finding that the Pinterest groups can be a big time suck, but then I keep hearing that Pinterest is a great source of website traffic.

    • Pinterest brings me massive traffic Melissa, but the groups ARE NOT HOW IT’S DONE!! Email me if you want more help with that,I work as a paid Pinterest ninja, but I can, hopefully, launch you on the right track.

  11. Thanks Alyson for all these great travel blog posts. I can totally relate to so much of what you write. I am just starting to try to build my blog up. I joined your Living Differently FB group. I so often feel discouraged at why I am even trying to build the blog up especially when I look at all the super star family travel blog sites. I get so overwhelmed reading and teaching myself about WordPress, SEO, backlinks and so on. I also don’t love promoting myself and online schmoozing (similar to you I think). I think it is great that your travelblog isn’t your whole life and doesn’t dictate how you live your life. Thanks for all the great posts!

    • No problem Dawn, just stick with it and hopefully yours will grow faster than my blog did. I really didn’t have a clue in the first couple of years, now, I think, I have it sussed, judging by how quickly Chef’s site is now growing done the right way. The biggest tip I can give you, EVERY post right from the start must have targeted keywords and EVERY post should have at least one way of making money in it. I’m about to publish another blogging post, today or tomorrow, so stick with it.

  12. Thank you so much for this post! I love it! It’s very real and very useful! I’ll start implementing whatever I can right now!

  13. I realise this was written a little while ago now, but still so relevant. ‘Keep the rants and hissy fits off your pages’ – that is so right. I have unfollowed a number of blogs when they went down that path. I have a complaint, though… I have too many tabs open from your links and am spending ages reading and enjoying your posts. Quit it, please!

    • Sorry Jane!! You’re right, it’s very old. I’m much better at all that stuff now. Do you think I should stop making every link “open in a new tab” Is it annoying?

  14. I have been blogging for nearly three years and I am only just realising how important social media is. Also only recently found the Facebook blogging groups that are so useful. If I had known all of this right from the beginning I am sure I would have made much more of an impact with my own blogging!

  15. This is a great article cum guideline and comes just timely. Off to Sri Lanka in a month and will be reading your travel blog a few times before we leave!

  16. Thanks for featuring my blog post on Good SEO! Congrats on 2 years of blogging.

  17. This is a great post Alyson. I too have been blogging but it’s been more than 2 years. I do my best to keep it real and avoid the hype that seems to everywhere! Thanks so much for the tips and encouragement. I’ll continue to forge on.

  18. Discovered your blog today. Thanks for being inspiring – and encouraging to a self promotion shy fellow blogger. I’ll be back reading more of you soon!

    • Good luck Maria, I don’t do self promotion at all. They come to you if you wait, press trips aren’t for me anyway.

    • Hi there Renee, I kind of have burnt out. It all got too intense, I’ve quit every blogging group I was in and cancelled my plans to attend a travel bloggers conference thing. It’s not me, it’s fake. I travel, I blog a bit, I’m not going down the professional travel blogger route, I want to travel my way, not take press trips. Back to my roots and it feels much better plus my time is my own again.

  19. Hi Alyson~
    Your blog has been a great inspiration to our family as we ready to hit the road in the coming year. We are just now starting to blog our own adventures as we introduce our children to the world. Thank you so much for all of the great advice! We blog for the love of it, but it would definitely be nice to make something of it one day.
    Looking forward to reading about your continued adventures!

  20. Congratulations Alyson. Wow! I can’t believe it. Only two years. Amazing! You’ve done an awfully brilliant job which I can only hope to emulate. 🙂
    I started blogging just 11 months ago and I’d say it really started to take off 6 months later. I’m not self-hosting but I get a lot of engagement and Twitter movement has been incredible. I still consider myself a newbie but I’m beginning to make a loud whisper in Berlin as a few strangers have mentioned that they’ve heard of my blog name and I’m slowly being approached. Happily, whenever I’ve pitched for something, they’ve 97% said a lovely “Yes.” What more can you want!

  21. Many congratulations on your 2 years and success’ to date.

    Later this month I hit my 2 year anniversary so I’m kind of sharing the same journey as you.

    I must admit my traffic is only a third of what yours is, which disappoints me since it is short of my personal goals. Yet my stats such as domain authority etc are good.

    There is little doubt, as you say, this is darn hard work. It takes a major commitment for very little reward up front. I hope that over time the success rolls in with more and more people discovering the messages that we have to share.

    Many congratulations again on your anniversary and achievements to date. Keep inspiring people, sharing your experiences, engaging and loving what you do.

    Wishing you continued success.

  22. hi beautiful alyson. i’m so honored to be mentioned here as one of your favorites when you started this journey still as yet a concept. i’m so proud of how you have grown. you are wondrous. all my respect, gabi

  23. Thanks for this article, there are lots of good tips in here! I love being reminded that the most important things to growing your blog (if you have everything else in place) are time and patience.

  24. Nice post, inspiring. We’ve been at it a year and its hard work. But we’ve kind of gotten stuck at a certain level of traffic and looking at ways to get to the next level. Love working on content and getting ideas/commenting on other people’s site. But social media can be frustrating and give you the feeling that your spinning your wheels and wasting time that could be spent doing the fun stuff. I think ‘getting it out there’ the hardest aspect of being a newbie blogger.
    Bottom line I think is that you have to love doing it.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  25. Very useful post for someone just starting the journey into travel blogging (3 months into it now!) Especially like the bit how you wrote about getting tips from Gabi and Erin, as I am doing the same from you now 🙂 and through your site, also discovered theirs as well.

    Always find your posts very refreshing, candid and informative…keep up the great work! and all the best for the future travels ahead 🙂 they sound quite similar to ours over the next one year, maybe our paths will cross, who knows!

  26. Well done Alyson

    We know how hard you have worked from day dot.

    We love reading all your posts and looking at photos and getting a taste of the world through your blog.

    Love to you all, you are living your dream.


  27. Great tips! There are so many things I wish I’d known from the beginning, but I didn’t expect to get so engulfed in blogging as I find myself now so I didn’t really do any research. Kicking myself a bit now, but I’ll figure it out sooner or later! Congratulations on your successes in just two years!

  28. Great advice! Thank you for sharing, and best of luck with your goals for continued growth.

  29. Such a honest post. Candid is definitely helpful. And we agree with you that blogging can be very much a labour of love.

  30. Great tips! We’re only a few months into our travel blog, and it seems a little like an uphill battle at the moment. It’s always great to find good advice!

  31. Great article! I love your blog and it has been a real inspiration for me. Our family is making some big changes so we can (hopefully) live a happier, less stressful life and blogging and travel are both big parts of that. Keep up the great work and good luck with the next two years!

  32. I”m impressed by your perseverance and willingness to share what you’ve learned! To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I could do it.The more I learn about how much work it is to make money as a digital nomad, the more I feel that it’s not for me. I’m just thankful I have a job I actually enjoy that lets me save up for our eventual goal of long term travel. I enjoy writing my little blog, but I don’t know if I would if it’s “work”. I’m glad that there are those out there who do, though. I love having so many bloggers out there sharing information and your blog is one of my favourites!


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