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30 days and 30 nights of blogging

 

At WarwickTweetup we help businesses use blogging to gain website traffic and customers. We blog constantly and consistently, and you might say that blogging is a major part of our lives. Back in April we took on the huge challenge of blogging every day on how we were only buying from businesses in Warwick for a month – and it was quite a mammoth task.

 

We generated a worldwide audience and over 5000 views to our blog in one month - for free!

 

Quite a bold statement that one, but it's what we did in April. We started a blog completely from scratch and built it up over the month, and you can do the same. Here’s how we did it…


WTU_Avatar_copy.jpgWe wanted to test the power of blogging and that meant the challenge had to be fair. We could have easily blogged on this website, a well-matured and sizeable site which already ranks well and receives lots of organic traffic and views from across the globe.

But where’s the challenge in that?!

Not everyone has an existing site at their disposal, and many of the clients and customers we help are starting from nothing. So that’s what we did. 

We decided to use Wordpress as our chosen blogging tool. Wordpress is a very popular blog and web platform and its simple layout and customisation makes it perfect for newbie bloggers and fully-fledged internet gurus alike! We started at the bottom. We even Googled ‘Wordpress’ and started where most people go first. We signed up to Wordpress with a new profile and set about selecting our new theme and layout. 

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Wordpress has an amazing number of choices but we stuck to our 15 minute set-up challenge and chose one that appealed to our tastes (it actually had many of the same colours as this WTU site). We named the blog “Todd buys local in April” and gave it a catchy tagline. We added an image from the laptop’s C drive, changed the colours slightly in the themes customising section, and also added an “About me” page and a “Contact Todd” page too. And that was it; our blog was ready for a mammoth month of blogging action... all in under 15 minutes!

blogger.jpgNow it’s worth pointing out that the project we blogged about was not a national initiative or indeed even a high-profile campaign locally at the start. We have blogged for a high-profile community project before; the Portas Pilot was very much in the press when we started our “Warwick Portas Pilots” blog on a Google Blogger site back in 2012. That reached three times the volume of views, but getting mentions on Mary Portas’ Twitter did help that a little! This time around we didn’t have anything to push our blog traffic - other than of course our social media links and the power of sharing! 

And so it began…

Blogging daily was not as simple as it was first thought. The challenge of shopping locally was far easier than writing a quality article every day and many late nights were spent refining and tweaking. We’re such perfectionists with our content, but we know you only get out what you put in, so we wanted to produce some real quality blogging. 

As each day went by we tracked the stats and views and refined when and what we shared. On the outside this was a great community project, on the inside though we monitored and tracked the progress on our new blog to fully test how blogging can work and be improved.

So what did we learn?

 

Twitter_Bird.jpgTwitter was the biggest referrer. Well it’s no surprise that the main referrer of traffic to our blog was Twitter (a staggering 76%). We have a strong presence on Twitter and we know a few things about sharing content and creating hype around it with the power of tweeting.

We found the best time to share was early morning and, surprisingly, very late at night. It seems people were more likely to read our posts outside of the 8am-7pm time slot that we'd usually go for. Also we learnt that the main views were fairly localised, such was the content on the blog, but we did get regular readers from America, Germany, Sweden and Australia, as well as the rest of the UK.

wtu_facebook.gif Facebook shares were more effective by percentage. Compared to the number of tweets sent, Facebook did better on average per share. Although we only posted the blog once a day on Facebook (compared to 5 times  a day on Twitter), it still got us 17% of our referrals. This equates to every Twitter share being worth 15 views, compared to Facebook shares being worth 18. You could also throw into the equation that we only have a few hundred likes on Facebook, compared to over 2,600 followers on Twitter. So pound for pound Facebook is still a key player despite its slight fall from favour lately.

• The highest click-through rate was for Twitter. This was mainly due to hyperlinking people's Twitter handles wherever possible. The second highest click-through was to this website, thanks to a hyperlinked button advertising our blogging workshops - relevant and well-placed call-to-actions do work!

The top views for a single page was achieved by our home page. This could indicate good shares and searches for our blog. We always shared the specific page’s URL (www.example.co.uk/blog/example-post) via our social outputs, so this indicates that a good percentage of readers saved our site or clicked through from other blogs sharing our home URL.

Todd_WarwickTwwetup.jpgThe second highest page was “About Todd”. This was a very personal challenge and also we tried to inject lots of personality into the blog (this helps it to be more engaging and encourages comments), so this was not a surprise. This was also the only page that we shared more than once throughout the month, and it proves that sharing older posts can gain new views and activity, as it can capture readers who missed your content the first time around. 

The top post was “Warwick’s market – use it or lose it”. It received many comments and shares, some from stall holders and also the market manager's Twitter account. This post also mentioned many people, and it was then shared on Twitter whilst mentioning them in the tweet; this actively encouraged those people to read it, and because they were mentioned they shared it too. 

The shorter blogs were less popular. We tried to keep the blogs to less than 600 words but failed many times. But the longer blogs were read and shared more, leading us to think that the more content-rich blogs are better for exposure.

Catchy strong titles win. The better the title, the better the views. Titles like “A Quintessentially English Morning at the Thomas Oken Tea Rooms”  and “The Warwick Bread-winner” scored better than more simple titles. This was no surprise to us, as we have always said that titles are one of the most important aspects of any blog. Make your title attention-grabbing!

So what did we learn from it all?

The main thing we learnt on our monthly challenge was that less is not more. The more we posted, the more people read. The more we shared our blog, the more people came. The more we wrote, the more popular the blog became. We’ve always been advocates for putting in what you want to get out, and it seems the more blogging you do, the more readers you get.

Sharing on social media was key to driving traffic to our virgin blog, and when you consider it didn’t exist until the March 27th it’s pretty cool to have had over 5000 views and almost 80 comments from people all over the world. We had some great experiences in Warwick (some complimentary thanks to our blog’s exposure) and some high profile people, including our local MP, followed and read it regularly.

What can YOU take from our little blogging experiment?

 Our advice is this:

Stay focused: Blogging can position you as an expert or authority in your chosen area. This is also known as 'thought-leadership'.

Post often: The more you post, the more people read.

Share your blog: Posting it is only the beginning!

Grab your reader’s attention: Chose a great attention-grabbing title.

Think about your readers: When do they read your blog? Do they like a long or short post? Do they read in the morning, at noon, or at night? Track your stats and figures to give you a better idea.

Blogging is a key part of any online marketing, but it takes time, skills and passion. If you want help creating your blogging journey, or simply need someone to do it for you, then contact us now.

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My name is Graham Todd and I’ve been immersed in social media for almost three years. I train, blog and manage social media for business.

Find me on Google+

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