Wednesday, 1 November 2017

5 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic You Didn't Know You Were Squandering

Blogging Tips | 5 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic That You Didn't Know You Were Squandering

About 18 months ago I made the discovery that I was seriously squandering blog traffic in a way I didn't even know about.

Yet now it's one of the biggest - and most important - ways I generate traffic to my blog.

This realisation came about because a fellow blogger asked me how I'd set up and organised one of the platforms provided for readers to follow us.

Two words - I hadn't. I was basically squandering all the potential blog traffic from this platform.

What was it? Email subscriptions.

How much thought have you ever given to those who subscribe to your posts by email? Have you ever thought about exactly what they receive in their Inbox, the format in which they receive notifications that you've posted on your blog?

If you haven't, you're probably not alone. I'd never even considered it until my blogging friend mentioned it to me - and I'd been blogging for over four years. As soon as I did consider it, I thought about all the blogs I subscribe to by email. How many of them do I read purely through the email without clicking through to their blog? About three quarters of them. The emails I receive never give me a reason to click through to the blog... hence, lost traffic.

I'm reading their content, but the bloggers aren't benefitting from it traffic-wise.

Think about how readers follow you

You have to think of ALL the ways your readers follow you and discover your content if you want to increase your blog traffic. Every day I see ways in which bloggers are squandering traffic left, right and centre.

For example, you can EASILY lose traffic if you're not ensuring it isn't lost via:

- Bloglovin
- Email subscriptions
- Feedburner/Feedly (RSS subscriptions)
- Your blog's layout and content

These are ALL things you have complete control over. There's no magic formula. No cost involved. No special skills required or equipment needed - just a one-off small investment of time is all you need.

Don't make it easy for readers to receive content but avoid your blog

You need to make sure that everywhere that readers can access your content is set up so that they are made to click through to your blog and read, not read it elsewhere. The tips I've listed here are not limited... I may have forgotten many (hopefully you lovely lot will fill me in)!

They're designed to help you grow your blog in quick, easy ways. Go forth and multiply your stats!

1. Your subscription email

This is THE one to get sorted (as mentioned in my opening paragraphs). Not taking any notice of what your email subscribers are receiving in their Inbox could be doing your blog traffic some serious damage.

The number one thing you should be doing to build a strong following and keep in touch with your readers?

Building a mailing list.

You won't "lose" these followers in the same way you might if Bloglovin gives up the ghost, for example. You basically own the list and can use it to contact your subscribers in any way you wish (within the parameters of data protection in your country, etc. etc).

Subscribe to your own posts by email

Firstly, if you haven't subscribed yourself to your own posts by email, do it NOW. You wouldn't compose and send a newsletter without sending yourself a draft to check it first, so this shouldn't be any different.

From this you can see what changes need to be made. Does the email entice your subscribers enough to make them want to click through and read? Does it force them to click through to your blog to read the post at all, or does it just show it in full without any of your blog's beautiful design or layout?

Does it even HAVE a link to click through to your blog? Some don't - I know because I've subscribed to them. I can read the blogger's post, but the email doesn't give me a link. I just read the entire post in my email. That's no skin off my nose, but it's no good for the blogger. It means no traffic, and no engagement.

IF YOU HAVEN'T CHECKED THIS BEFORE, MAKE IT YOUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY RIGHT NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS OUT ON TRAFFIC. 

If you haven't checked this before, make it your number one priority right now if you don't want to miss out on traffic. Now you may be thinking, I now know that the email my subscribers receive is lame and doesn't encourage them to visit my blog, but HOW on earth do I change this?

Rather than me writing what is effectively a whole other blog post, here is a link to a post that explains how to optimise your Feedburner email in 10 minutes... easy! I did this myself at the beginning of last year, and was so glad I did because I realised just how many people were following me there and how my traffic wasn't benefitting from them.

How I format my subscription emails

I now do my subscription emails a little (well, very) differently to how I first tweaked them to show just a truncated version (as explained via the link I gave above). If you're not using Mailchimp already, I suggest you get yourself set up with an account. If you're a Wordpress user, you can feed your RSS into your Mailchimp account so that a preview email is sent out automatically every time you publish a new post.

Unfortunately Blogger (blogspot) isn't that straightforward. I'm happy to be corrected, but as far as I know you cannot tie up a Blogger blog and Mailchimp so that new posts are sent out automatically by email. I spent several months looking for a way to do it, going back again and again until I came to the conclusion that Blogger and Mailchimp are incompatible.

I'm currently on Blogger, but will be migrating to Wordpress very soon. I currently compile my email subscriptions manually for every new post - it only takes five minutes and it means I have complete control over the format, layout and timing. I also now "own" my mailing list outright.

Do you want a post about email subscriptions...?

As there is so much to cover on this topic of subscription emails, would you like to see a whole post dedicated to this subject and how to optimise what your subscribers receive? Would like to know how to collate email addresses professionally and legally and how to use them wisely? Do you know how to find the email addresses of those who have already subscribed?

If you do, let me know in the comments - and mention what questions you want answering...!

Meantime, here are the other four ways you're squandering blog traffic...

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Blogging Tips | 5 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic That You Didn't Know You Were Squandering

2. Not linking to your own blog posts within posts

If you're not regularly linking to your own, relevant content on new blog posts you're missing a golden opportunity to increase interaction every time you write something new. These are blogging mistakes that you want to avoid at all costs - if people are reading and enjoying your content they're bound to want to read other things that you've written.

For example, two of my most popular posts talk about why it's great being an over 40 fashion blogger (which is an old post) and new, stylish over 40 fashion bloggers (a very recent post).

[See what I did in those two paragraphs...?]

AS WELL AS LINKING TO OTHER POSTS IN THE LATEST POST YOU'RE WRITING, GO BACK TO YOUR MOST POPULAR POSTS. WHAT LINKS TO YOUR OWN CONTENT CAN YOU ADD INTO THOSE? 

As well as linking to other posts in the latest post you're writing, go back to your most popular posts. What links to your NEWER content can you add into those? As these are the posts that visitors to your site come to most often, don't miss the chance to increase traffic by guiding them to other, equally relevant content.

And don't link to a particular blog post just once, either. The savviest bloggers link to their best content over and over again because there are always new readers who will benefit from their best work.

Tip: Don't hyperlink text such as "read this post" or "click here to read more" - use keywords as I did above. It's better for your SEO, making you more visible in Google searches.

3. Not having an archive

This seems an obvious one, but it's surprising how many bloggers don't have an archive. Sure, you can offer a search box (well, you should have a search box), but remember that PEOPLE ARE NOSEY. They want to have a dig around your blog and see what they can find - especially old posts.

Or they want to find the post you wrote back in the summer but they can't remember the name of the brand you were wearing, so they want to see a list of your blog titles from July... they'll know it when they see it. Sure, categories and search boxes will help people find your content, but an archive helps them find everything.

I know a lot several bloggers who have said that they never look at people's archive. They probably don't. But an awful lot of people DO, and just because you don't doesn't mean other people won't either. I always use bloggers' archives, if they have one. I find it very frustrating when they don't - I'm being prevented from looking at more of their content in the way I choose to look it up.

REMEMBER, YOUR BLOG ISN'T ALL ABOUT YOU. OF COURSE IT IS ABOUT YOU AND BY YOU, BUT THE "WORLD" THAT IS YOUR BLOG ISN'T ABOUT YOU. 

Remember, your blog isn't all about you. Of course it is ABOUT you and BY you, but the "world" that is your blog isn't about you. You're still writing it for others to find and read, hence it not being about YOU.

I can't begin to imagine the time I've spent looking at old posts of blogs I love. Some bloggers delete old posts, and that's fine. I don't. I leave them there because I know some readers like to see what I looked like/was up to/was doing with the blog years ago, and I don't mind that. It's all extra traffic for me if they've got lost down a blogging rabbit hole.

4. Publishing posts in full on your homepage

This is something that I've totally reversed my thinking on over the years: Jump breaks.

A few years ago I did a reader poll to find out what readers thought of jump breaks (where you see a truncated version of the blog post that then says "Read more"). I can remember about 78% said they hated them, and for that reason I never used them.

However, the blogging landscape has changed exponentially over the last 2-3 years. To have a successful blog you have to be on top form in every area of blogging, from photography to design to marketing. And a blog's homepage is now seen as your CV or resume, which should have a selection of posts that people can see to pick and choose from - and to get an idea of what your blog is like, and what it's all about, and what topics you cover.

The reason for this is that many, many people land on your blog via links to specific posts. They've either subscribed to your blog via email updates (which you've now sorted thanks to point 1, above), clicked on a link from your social media, or they've Googled something and gone straight to the post that was relevant... in other words, your homepage is being visited by people who don't know if what you're offering is something that's relevant to them. They probably just want to nose around for a bit.

Your homepage will be visited by people who have had your blog recommended to them by someone else. It'll be visited by a brand or PR to see if you're a suitable fit for the latest campaign they're running. It'll be visited by someone who's clicked on a link to your blog from someone's blogroll, or from somewhere you've been featured.

YOUR BLOG'S HOMEPAGE NEEDS TO APPEAL TO PEOPLE WHO DON'T YET KNOW WHAT THEY'RE LOOKING FOR. SO IF YOU PUBLISH YOUR LATEST POST IN FULL WITHOUT JUMP BREAKS, YOU'RE TAKING A 50-50 CHANCE AS TO WHETHER THAT POST IS RELEVANT TO THEM. 

Therefore, your blog's homepage needs to appeal to people who don't yet know what they're looking for. So if you publish your posts in full without jump breaks, you're taking a 50-50 chance as to whether your latest post (at the top) is relevant to them. Unless you post on one subject alone and NOTHING else ever, chances are you'll put off all the people who were looking for outfit inspiration but can only see a restaurant review and pictures of food after what feel likes 10 minutes of scrolling. After 20 pictures of food they're not going to be bothered to look further for outfits - they'll give up.

You need to have a selection of posts clearly visible on your homepage, and that means using jump breaks. One great picture, the blog post title and (possibly) a little bit of text is what you need to be showing for each. If they don't like the top post, they only have to scroll down a short way before they can see the outfit post they wanted. Or the vegan recipe they know you specialise in. Or the post about the latest nail polish shades for this season.

Use the jump breaks! Don't put people off and lose all that potential traffic.

5. Bloglovin is publishing your posts in full

Although Bloglovin used to be The King of Subscription Platforms (not anymore IMO), there are plenty of people who still use it regularly and want to follow you that way.

HOWEVER... Bloglovin does bloggers no favours these days - in the same way that your email subscription may show the full post, Bloglovin is now showing your posts in their entirety within its own platform. It's basically another type of RSS feed.

BLOGLOVIN DOES BLOGGERS NO FAVOURS THESE DAYS - IT'S NOW SHOWING YOUR POSTS IN THEIR ENTIRETY WITHIN ITS OWN PLATFORM. 

People following you on Bloglovin no longer need to visit your blog, because why should they when they can read it in full on Bloglovin? You want people to have enough of a teaser so you can pique their interest - then force them to click through to read the rest of the post.

How to stop Bloglovin publishing your posts in full

It's easy to change your blog's setting so that Bloglovin and other RSS feeds don't publish your posts in full:

- Make sure that a jump break ("Read more") is added to every post you publish, see point 4 above.

- Then check the settings on your blog are set to enable this...

  For Blogger: Go to Settings > Other > Site Feed > Allow Blog Feed - select "Until Jump Break".
  For Wordpress: Go to Settings > Reading > For each article in a feed, show - select "Summary".

- Check your Bloglovin the next day and check that they are only showing a truncated version of your blog posts with "Read more" where you add your jump break (I always give these things 24 hours to change just to make sure).

VoilĂ  - no more lost traffic due to Bloglovin and its conniving ways. Easy!


Not Dressed As Lamb - CLICK HERE to receive posts by email

LET ME KNOW... ARE YOU SQUANDERING BLOG TRAFFIC? DO YOU KNOW OF ANY OTHER WAYS WE SQUANDER IT THAT I HAVEN'T MENTIONED HERE? COMMENT BELOW!


Catherine

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41 comments

  1. Thank you for this post! I noticed that change to Bloglovin and saw all these people reading my post but no real uptick and traffic. I have already changed my settings. I need to do the Mailchimp Rss thing too.

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  2. I've just noticed that Bloglovin has my full post !
    I'd (stupidly) never noticed before and assumed Bloglovin was good for my blog... oops!
    How far in to you post do you add a jumpbreak Catherine?
    I've never used them and don't want to go to early or too late!
    XXX
    Samanth
    Fake Fabulous | Style and fun with fashion, over 40

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    1. I'm really pleased you checked, Samantha... so glad to be able to help you out! It's a personal thing, where you put the jump break - I'd roughly base it on the first picture and then a paragraph or two. Maybe have a read of other blogs on Bloglovin and see where (if!) they have it, and how you respond to how much or how little they've included.

      I vary mine each time with each post, accordingly to what the post is about.

      And you might like to know that your subscription email shows your post in full - I feel bad because I subscribe to your updates but I forget to click through and by that time I've finished reading your post, all within the email!! So your email format needs sorting ASAP xx

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    2. Thank you Catherine....I'll hop to it!
      XXX

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  3. You are the ultimate at these types of posts Catherine. If it wasn't for your back catalogue of "How to's" I'd never have got my blog off the ground!
    Untold knowledge is one thing, but keeping up with the constant changes is your forte. Brilliant as usual babe xxx

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    1. Aww thanks so much MT - so glad you know I helped you in some way!! x

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  4. Thank you Catherine, this is really useful. I never knew for certain whether Bloglovin 'reads' contributed to your stats. That was a really quick change to make. Very grateful to you as always x

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    1. It's so easy, isn't it Donna? Really glad it's helped you x

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  5. Man....you're brilliant. I didn't even think about the bloglovin part because I don't try to read them much there anymore!!
    Thanks so much for this info, Catherine. And thanks for walking us through how to correct it too!!! So simple, yet it would have taken me at least an hour to goggle how to do it!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. I'm the same, Jodie - I don't really use Bloglovin much myself anymore but it's important we consider how everyone else follows us. Just because we don't use it doesn't mean others don't! Glad you found it a simple change x

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  6. Great tips. Thanks for sharing and helping out.

    Rena
    www.finewhateverblog.com

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  7. You totally opened my eyes with this post! Thank you!!

    Paulina | SHENSKA

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  8. I am one of those who follow several bloggers via email and have been doing so for over a year. I'm not a blogger myself and I'm not a subscriber to other media forums. I am able to view most of the bloggeres via bloglovin but always chose to go to the "original"post from ther because I discovered that the posts on Bloglovin were less complete or in some cases I was missing posts altogether.
    You're doing a valuable service to your fellow bloggers but also to those of us who have come to appreciate the bloggers we "followers" follow for more than only their fashion savvy. Jude Gramith

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  9. Hi just another angle on this: in some email subscriptions I DIDN'T click on the read more... I usually snatch time to read between doing other things so if it wasn't in front of me I didn't read it. However, I started following through Bloglovin and I I knew that I always had to click the Man Repeller and The Frugality posts to get to the content... so I did... AND I've started doing the same with my other favourites (does my bum look 40, not lamb, fake fab, sludge brown, etc) because I felt I was missing out on layout and comments. So, I wonder if you want traffic, these tweaks are spot on, but if you write a post with a different purpose (most likely if you blog in a different field) and getting a message out /content read is more important than the traffic (or is traffic always important?) then maybe less so. (I really don't know, I'm just giving a reader's perspective and I blog in a research context so very different) I LOVE your writing btw. Krysia xx

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  10. Really good tips. I have just properly set up my subscription emails and I understand now why there are so important!

    #brillblogposts

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  11. I'm bookmarking this----I don't even understand how to set up the archive on my blog and I clearly need to figure out emails & jump breaks...
    Thanks!!

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  12. Thanks for this Catherine. I use Blogger, and didn't realize that my e-mail posts looked so blah until I read one in my mum's e-mail while visiting. So I started subscribing to my own blog by e-mail, and in Bloglovin' etc so I could see what everyone else was seeing and change things accordingly. Still don'y understand the whole RSS stuff, though. But it's a journey...!

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  13. I am not doing badly. I use Wordpress, manage my email with Mailchimp, use Bloglovin, use jump breaks. Hmm. I am kinda proud of myself. I have used teasers in mail too, but stopped that. But that is because my goal is to be read, one way or another. Not earning money with my blog makes that the numbers aren’t important to me. Luxury position.
    Greetje

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  14. This is so useful Catherine, thank you for sharing. I would love another post on email subscriptions if you fancy writing it. I do have an option to subscribe by email, but have never checked to see what it sends! Shocking I know! Im also off to check my bloglovin to see how the posts are shown. Thank you x

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  15. THANK YOU! This was hugely helpful - I'm like Greetje, in that I don't profit at all from my blog, but I love the engagement with readers, and since I have most of them via email these days, I've noticed that I get so many fewer comments, the lifeblood of so many of us recreational fashion bloggers. I've been blogging for 10 years and this really opened my eyes. THANK YOU.

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  16. Catherine, There is a wealth of good advice in your post. I'm only starting to wrap my head around newsletters and email subscriptions. Will definitely have to set one up. Funnily enough, I always liked having jump breaks, but now that I think about it, it makes sense, as a reader you want to be able to pic and chose form a selection of posts. #brillblogposts

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  17. OOh, I actually just got my blog on BlogLovin this past weekend...will have to check to see if it's a good thing or not. SO MANY THINGS! Ha, but it's all good and I love doing it, so...

    So many great tips, thanks for sharing!

    Bettye
    https://fashionschlub.com

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  18. The problem is that most of us learn 'on the job' so to speak so a great help when we see posts like this Catherine - thank you so much. Although I'm not a blogger at all because I have an 'evergreen' website and a monthly newsletter (fors and againsts here) which sits on my website. Therefore an email that links through to site is vital. My email includes bullet points of newsletter features and a combination image that's easy to click through. I have a list of over 5000 subscribed visitors but on average I'll get 35 to 45% bothering to click through to site. Probably because we all get too many emails these days - big factor - and so that email has to be the best we can make it!

    Pamela
    www.style-yourself-confident.com

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  19. Echoing what Krysia said - speaking as a blog reader, it annoys me greatly if the content isn't all there in Bloglovin, and I'm more likely to move straight to on the next blog in my feed (too busy to flip in and out of websites). Better for the blogger it may be, but as a reader it's a pain. I can see why you do it, though, if traffic is your priority.

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    1. I can understand that it would frustrate you Vicointreau - but if readers aren't visiting the actual blog then they're not engaging either [by leaving comments]... the fact that you read the full post elsewhere doesn't help a blogger in any way - you're effectively the same as someone who doesn't read my blog at all. If everyone read my blog that way it would have to be shut down - no page visits and no engagement would mean a "dead" blog. The more of both we have, the higher up Google search results we go, and the more people find our blog content.

      So unfortunately for you it forces you to click through - but in the end everyone gains by me forcing you to do that... it sounds harsh (and I don't mean it to sound that way!), but in terms of what I gain, you might as well not be reading my blog at all. It's similar to fake followers on Instagram: I might have 20k followers on Bloglovin, but if they're not engaging with me then they may as well be fake...!

      Hope that explains why visits and engagement are so important - it's not just to make us "look good"! C x

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    2. Fair enough! Your blogging colleagues are taking note, because I notice that several more of the blogs I follow are now making me click through.....curses! ;-)

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  20. So many great tips here, saving this for later
    Lauren
    livinginaboxx

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  21. Thank you Catherine, for sharing your knowledge! I have learned so many things from you along the way. I am glad I am already doing quite a few of the things you recommend (and tweaking to the Bloglovin' bit a while ago made a massive difference).
    One question from me. I have started collecting email addresses for newsletters, via Mailchimp integrated into wordpress. However, I have not sent a newsletter out yet because Mailchimp requires putting your physical address in the footer of the email, and I obviously don't want to share my home address with the world. I noticed that you use a PO box, but I looked into it and it's £250 odd/year to have one. For a non monetised blog, that is waaay to much. So, have you got any advice on this? Or would you consider covering this in your email subscription post?
    P.S So glad you are moving to wordpress, this makes life so much easier to follow and comment.

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    1. Hey Alex, glad the tips helped!

      The PO Box I don't pay for - it depends how you use it. I use it purely as an address to put on the bottom of mailings, not as an address for people to send me things. I would only get charged if people were to send me something: I then have to pay to get it forwarded to me. The website I use is https://www.ukpostbox.com.

      Now I'm NOT giving anyone advice here (disclaimer!), but the other way to do it is to simply put the very basics of your address which is what I know a lot of bloggers do. No street address, just a town and county. I know the law states that you have to put your full address in, but as far as I'm concerned that's a danger to women especially and anyone who is a sole trader, writer, etc. Why on earth does the Data Protection Act prevent us from giving out home addresses and personal details but a mailshot forces us to tell everyone? I've always maintained that if the law came down on me (NOT that I see that happening...) I'd argue that it puts me in danger considering the amount of unwanted attention I receive from stalker-types. That's NOT something you want, and giving out your home address is dangerous IMO.

      Hope that helps! x

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    2. Oh and I should have said that yes I WILL include it in my subscription email post, it's a very good point! x

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    3. Thank you, that is super helpful!! Now I have no good reasons not to send out my first newsletter :).

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    4. Ooh this is something that's been bothering me for AGES! I read this yesterday, applied and already have my new PO Box! Awesome - thank you!

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  22. This was such a useful post Catherine. Thank you so much. I have already implemented a few pieces of advice after I first read the post earlier in the week (not showing the full post on my blog home page. I often do restaurant reviews so readers might well miss the style posts and vice versa). Thank you again lovely, for sharing your expertise, love Liz xxx www.whatlizzyloves.com

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  24. Fantastic advice here - thank you Catherine. My blog theme automatically puts a summary of each post on the home page, but I hadn't realised the read more breaks were useful for RSS feeds & bloglovin'. Will add them in! Also, do you recommend having a Feedburner email AND a regular email list with Mailchimp or similar? I have a list with Convertkit that I'm about to move on Mailerlite and was going to add a RSS feed email to that. Thanks again for the great advice. http://selfemployedsinglemum.com

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  25. EXCELLENT as ever Catherine. Really helpful, especially the Bloglovin' bit. Read More was something I have wanted for the last year and we finally got it done a few months ago. It's changed my life and my feed! (Squarespace took a while to catch up) Thank goodness for you, the world of blogging changes by the month and it's sometimes hard to keep up with it all. Suzi xx

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  26. Super post Catherine and agree with everything you've written. The plugin Yoast is vital too as SEO should be the biggest traffic driver when you look at your GA. My posts do well on Pinterest too so my breakdown is SEO, social media, referrals from other sites...It's that consistency isn't it, remembering to post everywhere once you go live. I find Linkedin drives some traffic too as do Instagram Stories where I add the clickable link and recommend viewers swipe up to head to the blog post. Regular guest posting particularly on high authority sites helps too as does regular posting and Social Oomph for scheduled tweets that work so well with evergreen pieces xx

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