Web Analytics Made Easy - StatCounter
Buzzblog home

Five Blog Tips That Didn’t Help My Blog

Over the years, I’ve tried lots of different things in a bid to grow and improve my blog.

Some of those things have worked, and you can read about them in my ebook (Hey, did I mention that I wrote an ebook? I wrote an ebook. You should buy it.), but others have been less successful – in fact, some have ended up being a complete waste of time, and today I thought I’d talk a little bit about what those things were, and why they didn’t work for me.

Before I do, though,  I just want to stress that, although these techniques didn’t work for me personally, that doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, or for anyone else.  I’m not writing about them to slate them, or to discourage anyone from trying them: I’m just sharing my own experience of them, and I’d be interested to hear yours, too. And, with that said, here are some of the things that DIDN’T work for my blog…

5 blog tips that just didn't work for me01.

Use Instagram to boost your brand

I love Instagram: I scroll through my feed multiple times per day, and my addiction has only grown since they launched the ‘Stories’ feature a few weeks ago. For me, Instagram is a great way to document my life, spy on other people’s (OK, so “spy” is probably the wrong word here, but you get what I mean…) and while away the time. What Instagram is NOT, however – or not for me, anyway – is a great way to promote or grow my blog. Seriously, I feel like I’ve tried everything at this point: I’ve followed all of the pro-tips, I’ve diligently tried to grow my following, and… nothing. I’ve been stuck on roughly the same follower number for the best part of a year now (Every day I seem to gain a bunch of followers, and then lose exactly the same amount, so in real terms I’m seeing absolutely zero growth), and nothing I do seems to change that.

What’s more, Instagram doesn’t really seem to do much for my blog, either, at this point. For some reason, brands are really interested in it, and an Instagram post is almost always a requirement – sometimes even the MAIN requirement – of any collaboration I do, but although I get decent engagement on my posts, my experience has been that most of the people who follow me on Instagram prefer to STAY on Instagram. So they’ll like a photo, or leave me a comment – but they probably won’t click through to my blog to read the post that photo came from. Which is a bit of a bummer, really.

I’ve no idea if my experience is typical here, or if there really is something I’m doing wrong, but until I work  it out, I’ll be continuing to use Instagram – but for fun, rather than because I think it has a huge benefit to my blog.

Er, anyone want to follow me on Instagram? Anyone at all?

02.

Sign up to as many Pinterest Group Boards as possible

When I started to get serious about using Pinterest to promote my blog posts, I read a lot of advice posts about it, and almost all of them told me I should be joining group boards and pinning to them on a regular basis. Well, I dutifully went out and joined a bunch of group boards – I even started one of my own – and I saw very little benefit from it.

Now, the fact is, I DO get a lot of traffic from Pinterest: in fact, it’s one of the main reasons my blog grew so much in the first few months of this year. Hardly any of that traffic comes from group boards, though, and, although I do still pin to the ones I’m a member of, I don’t do it religiously, and I STILL don’t see much of a benefit to it. Instead, most of my Pinterest traffic comes from a handful of pins that went viral, and from people clicking through from the pins I add to my own boards. Again, I’m not saying group boards won’t work for anyone: but they sure haven’t worked much for me…

03.

Run Giveaways to increase your follower numbers

To be fair, I haven’t done a lot of giveaways on this blog: for the simple reason that every single one I have done has been a lot of work, for very little reward. For the most part, giveaways benefit brands, and they benefit the person who wins ; they don’t, however benefit bloggers (or not this one, anyway), and they don’t always  benefit the regular readers bloggers think they’re “rewarding” by giving something away, either.

The problem is that giveaways attract people who are only interested in whatever it is you’re giving away. Yes, that might mean you get an initial boost in followers/pageviews (assuming that following your blog is one of the requirements of the giveaway), but that doesn’t always translate into a long-term benefit to your blog, because the people who’re only there for the giveaway will either unfollow you when it’s over, or will continue following, but never click through to your blog. You might think that an artificially inflated follower count will help you attract sponsors, and it might – for a while. Brands aren’t stupid, however, and it won’t take them long to realise that most of your followers aren’t actually engaging with your content – which makes them worthless to the brand, and worthless to your blog, too.

04.

Work “exposure” in order to “get your name out there”

I have pretty strong views about the idea of working for “exposure” – as regular readers will probably know by now. I’m not going to lie, though: there have been times in the past when I’ve allowed myself to be talked into doing something for a brand, in the belief that getting a link from their social media or website will bring me enough new readers to more than justify the time I’ve spent on whatever it is they’ve asked me to do. And you know what?

It never is.

Not ever.

Well, OK, there have been a few times – a VERY few times – when I’ve been mentioned on a brand’s Instagram, say, and I’ve gotten an influx of new followers from it, but the times are few and far between, and these days I’ve noticed that even being regrammed by a much larger account than my own will only give me a handful of new followers.

I’m not sure if it’s just that Instagram users are less interested in clicking through to another account (I mean, why would they, if they can see the photo on the brand’s page anyway?), or if it’s the brands’ habit of crediting me in a tag rather than a caption (I know from experience that most of my own followers don’t even LOOK at the tags I add to my photos: I normally tag all of the brands I’m wearing in outfit photos, for instance, but I’ll still always get questions from people asking where I got something), but these days I don’t see much benefit from being featured on a brand’s social media – which is why I no longer agree to do anything purely for the “exposure”: it just isn’t worth it.

05.

Use Facebook Advertising to improve your reach

Facebook is NOT my favourite social network: to the extent that I more or less ignore it these days. My posts are all automatically added to my Facebook page, but the fact that the Facebook algorithm only shows those posts to a tiny percentage of the people who follow that page renders it all but useless to me – which makes me reluctant to spend any time on it.

In a bid to try to beat the algorithm, however, there have been a few times in the past when I’ve succumbed to the lure of Facebook advertising. You know that little box that sometimes appears on your page saying, “This post is proving more popular than most of your other posts! To increase its reach, and show it to more followers, why not try a Facebook advert!”? I’ve totally clicked on that box. I actually kind of hate myself for having done it, because I REALLY resent a business model which forces me to PAY MONEY purely to reach the people who have ALREADY indicated that they want to see my content, but sometimes the temptation is just too much – especially when Facebook promises amazing results for as little as £3.

Did I get those results, though? Did I hell. I mean, yeah, sure, on the handful of occasions when I’ve paid to  boost a post, that post HAS reached more followers, and gotten more likes and comments on Facebook itself. As with Instagram, however, I find that Facebook users are reluctant to leave Facebook (I know this from all of the times people comment on the link to my post, in a way that clearly demonstrates that they obviously haven’t bothered to read the ACTUAL post, and are just guessing what it’s about from the photo and/or post excerpt…), so Facebook advertising gets me more likes on Facebook, but has very little benefit to my blog. I suspect this is probably because my post titles just aren’t click-baity enough, though, so if yours are, this just might work for you.

What about you? Have you tried using any of these techniques to grow your blog? Did they work for you?

 

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

26 Comments
  • Natasha
    September 25, 2016

    Thanks for these posts Amber. I’ve decided to start pro-blogging and your posts (and your book) have really helped. Unlike some blogger guidance, you never descend into jargon. And you never make me feel stupid!

  • Gemma
    September 25, 2016

    I’ve had the same results with all of those, except Facebook!
    Facebook is one of my biggest traffic drivers, even without paying for ads, but I’ve found that I need to spend time sharing stuff that isn’t mine between my posts.
    It also doesn’t translate to long term traffic like Pinterest does.

    Twitter, however, I find totally useless! I have 13k followers, and barely any traffic from it. Plus every time I do post something loads of people try and start a row 😀

  • Lena
    September 25, 2016

    It’s so hard to direct people from social media to your blog. I’ve had some luck with pinterest because it’s more of a search engine than social media, but even still it’s a struggle for me. I agree about giveaways, not really worth it.

  • Anna nuttall
    September 25, 2016

    I find Facebook is my my number 1 source of traffic and it does direct people to my blog. However I’m finding Pinterest to be useless source of traffic – what am I doing wrong? I learn the hard way that giveaway doesn’t work out that great for me. Great post. xx

  • Call me M
    September 25, 2016

    Facebook and Instagram ads are a JOKE! Why should I pay for a post to be promoted to the people that have already liked my page? I experimented with ads both on Facebook and Instagram a couple of times, but apart from the likes on the ads/posts I didn’t gain anything from them. I once actually paid Facebook to promote one of my photos, and that ended up with Facebook promoting it to the same people that had already seen it anyway, meaning, the “total reach” number didn’t change at all… what changed was that all the “organic reach” turned into “paid reach”, but the total number stayed the same. Total waste of my money.
    As for Instagram ads, no one clicks on them to actually go to the site, because 99% of the people on Instagram, just double tap on photos like robots, without even reading captions (I’m no exception, I only read the captions from photos I really like, but if I’m busy I just scroll and double tap). I do get annoyed though, when people want to see where you got something, and they don’t even bother to tap to see if it’s already tagged in the photo. I don’t do that, and it always annoys me when I see people asking questions like these.
    Giveaways if done through rafflecopter or another similar “app” placed on a post on your blog, do bring some traffic, but it’s only temporary. They do help increase the number of followers, but it’s exactly as you described.
    Pinterest doesn’t work for me at all, but I’m probably not putting too much effort into it anyway.
    But I do have some people coming to my blog through my Instagram account, when I’m “announcing” that there’s a new post.
    To be honest, I think that Youtubers have the most engaged audience in every medium, and since I’ve started a channel myself, I’ve seen some difference, although it’s still quite new. Have you thought of doing more videos on Youtube? I know that they take a lot of time and effort, but it really helps and I’d love to see more from you. Wish I had the confidence to do mine in English….
    Sorry for the long comment! 🙂

    • Amber
      September 25, 2016

      Video is just way too time consuming for me to be able to do it regularly – I’ll probably still continue to upload the odd one here and there, but I’ve no idea how people find the time to do weekly vlogs etc! I tend to think it’s best to stick to your strengths, though: I can write, but I’m really, really awkward in front of a camera, so I don’t think it would benefit me much!

  • Sandra
    September 25, 2016

    Instagram doesn’t work for me, either. I have some followers there, but as you said, I think most of them don’t bother to check out my blog. I do get however some clicks from facebook, although I don’t have a lot of likes over there. Facebook advertising in contrast hasn’t worked for my blog.

    Many hugs
    Sandra <3

  • Trona
    September 25, 2016

    I’ve been working on my Instagram lately but not specifically to grow my blog, I’ve just discovered a new found love for it. While that’s been growing I haven’t seen any effect on my blog, I doubt I will; I see them as 2 separate entities now, although I do promote blog posts on there.

    Next month I’m going to get to grips with Pinterest, it’s something I’ve dabbled here and there with but, like Instagram, never really given it a proper go, so I’ll be using all your tips!

    Google however is still by far my main source of traffic, I think twitter is good for “networking” but I don’t see a huge amount of traffic from there either.

    • Amber
      September 25, 2016

      Your insta photos have been *amazing* lately – seriously impressed!

      • Trona
        September 26, 2016

        ah thank you! I really appreciate that. What really changed my view or approach to IG was reading Sara from Me & Orla’s tips and guides, it’s been a revelation xx

  • Emerald
    September 25, 2016

    I’ve found FB less and less useful, although I did take out an ad and sold a large piece of artwork recently. You can’t do without it now though, of course, and FB does have its uses. I get likes and followers each day on Instagram (though probably not that many considering), but no art sales yet and precious clicks through to my website. I think one of the problems is that you can’t put a clickable link in your Instagram posts. If readers have to cut and paste they find it too fiddly to bother.

  • nikkiana
    September 25, 2016

    I think the thing with Instagram is it’s kinda designed to encourage you to stay on Instagram. You can’t put clickable links in your comments, so it’s not easy to lead someone elsewhere. I know some people just change their account URL with whatever their latest bit of blog content is that they want to promote, but that always seemed like a poor solution because you have to click back into somebody’s profile to get to that link anyway.

  • What Lou Wore 365
    September 26, 2016

    I don’t use any social media for my blog as no one in real life knows I have a blog, even after all these years I prefer to keep it quiet. I follow your Insta (both Shoeper and the new FA one that you set up last week) but I don’t click through from there to read your posts as I’d rather read them on the PC when I can read it properly and leave a comment. I figure you put so much work into your posts it’s only polite to give them the attention they deserve.

    I re-downloaded the Pinterest app last week as I decided keeping photos/screenshots on my camera roll of outfit ideas was dumb when there is an app for that….. Bloody thing doesn’t work with iOS10 it seems! It opens sure but I cannot upload a thing to it, just crashes out every time. Impatiently waiting for them to fix that so that I can upload the pictures and delete them from my camera roll!

  • Katryna
    September 26, 2016

    For me, Instagram is a platform in itself and rarely translates into views to my site. I think that *might* change if we could imbed live links in the caption (too many steps for people to click on your profile, and then the link and so forth). So for now I choose to treat it as a mini version of the blog- I can still connect with people in my audience, but just in a bite-sized way. It isn’t ideal but it works for the environment we’ve got.

  • Stevey
    September 27, 2016

    Hi Amber!
    I really appreciate this post. I just started blogging and have fears about all of the things you mention here. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I want my blogging experience to be a productive use of my time, and Instagram and Facebook just seem like a lot of work for not a whole lot of return. I found this post through feedly, btw 😉

    Thanks for posting! I’m excited to read more of your stuff. You have a great voice, keep it up!

    Best,

    Stevey at Bizzie-Body

  • Hannah
    September 28, 2016

    When it comes to Facebook and Instagram I rarely navigate from yours or any bloggers pages from either social media. I find it harder to read blogs on my phone which is where I always access those two.

    Instead I (and other friends and people I work with) tend to catch up on blog posts etc either first thing in the morning with a brew or on our lunch breaks sat at our desks, my favourite way of accessing them is if the full post is sent to my email inbox as I can read it quickly in between emails. Otherwise an email prompt like your subscriptions I tend to save up a few and catch up on them one day a week.

    I have literally no idea how all the stats and info is gathered but most of my friends use one type of media at a time never navigating from one to another so I can understand why you wouldn’t see a lot of facebook or instagram posts generating any traffic.

  • Lynn | The Actor's Diet
    September 28, 2016

    I love this post! It’s so refreshing and honest. I’ve been blogging since 2009 and the game keeps changing. It’s hard to keep up.

  • Nemyinspired
    October 3, 2016

    surprisingly, Facebook is my number one source of traffic, although I have a growing Facebook page with just 500+ followers, I share most of my blog post on my personal profile page and still get lots of clicks from it. although, I noticed that Facebook has this annoying way of forcing you to promote your posts especially those on your page in order to reach more people, but having read about the futility of such a venture, I have decided not to bother with that. However, I would like to know how effective sponsored Facebook page promotion is?

  • Cristina Alciati
    October 10, 2016

    I can relate to your experience with Instagram. It’s a colossal waste of my time and effort as it doesn’t bring any traffic. Same for Pinterest but in all fairness I never put that much effort into it.

    Have you looked into Instant Articles for FB yet? They might be the answer to getting your content seen without leaving FB. Once you set up the plugin and pass the vetting process they are automatically uploaded to FB. They load super fast on mobile and they count as visits to your site. The only snag is that if you have an optin form in your post you have to manually add the code and it then looks a bit primitive but you can still collect email addresses. 😊

  • Fabiola
    October 10, 2016

    I completely agree with you about Instagram. It’s completely useless for blog promotion! I still use it, though. I’ve begun to think of my Instagram as a sort of photo album for my blog. Sometimes I embed Instagram pics on my blog. But as for getting traffic from there, not much help.
    Facebook get me mixed results. I’ve managed to grow my fan page and I do get traffic from there, but I’ve never promoted any Facebook posts.
    Pinterest works a little better from me, and group boards are somewhat helpful. However, I think I need to automate my pins to grow it further.
    Honestly, my biggest source of traffic on both my blogs comes from search engines. I believe this is the best source of traffic there is, because it doesn’t depend on whether you’re promoting anything on that day or not. I’m also working on improving my email list. I think that’s another reliable way of growing a blog.

  • Allison
    October 10, 2016

    YES to all this! I use Instagram on a more personal level (although my page is public) since I do have a love for photography and sharing pretty images from my life. But I’ve never found it to be a useful tool to promote my writing/blog so I don’t even bother! As for Facebook – *sigh* – I share the exact same sentiment as you in regards to paying to promote posts. It’s ridiculous and unfair we have to pay to reach people who chose to like our page, but it DOES help. I try to look at it as the price of a latte or something, and it results in way more engagement.

  • Keating
    October 10, 2016

    Love this! I’ve used every single one of these and not many of them seem to do a whole lot for me. My Instagram has been the biggest pain for me. I’m horrible at staying consistent with it and sometimes I post images just to post them. Even though they don’t follow the same color scheme and look as the rest of my posts. I get good engagement on it, but as of right now, it’s just so much more work than it has to be. So it’s really taken a back burner. Pinterest is another one that doesn’t seem to help me as much. I love Pinterest, but I really just use it for personal reasons. I don’t use it to grow my blog and business or anything like that.

    xo, Keating | Hello Lovely
    http://www.whyhellolovely.com

  • Dana
    October 10, 2016

    I agree instagram doesn’t do anything to increase my blog traffic. However, lately it is bringing in most of my contacts for sponsored posts (for my blog but they find me probably through hashtag search on instagram)

  • amber
    October 17, 2016

    I just found your blog and love it so much! I’m in the tricky process of transferring from worpress.com to .org… what a mess 🙁 but can’t wait to implement lots of your advice! oh, BTW, Love your blog name!!! —amber

  • Elle
    October 20, 2016

    I have the exact same problem with Instagram, it’s like I’m hitting my head against a brick wall! So glad I’m not the only one x
    Ellé | http://www.ellesimpson.co.uk

  • Emma
    March 9, 2019

    Thank you for sharing 😊 I agree Instagram doesn’t help with blog views but it is fun 😊💜

Previous
Insert Title Here
Five Blog Tips That Didn’t Help My Blog