Six months ago on December 13th 2020, I created a blog/website for my passion which is trail running. It was an experiment. For a long time, I had wanted to understand more about blogging, how it worked, how to get traffic to my blog and how to monetise that traffic. I had seen affiliate marketing and display advertising talked about everywhere and had very little knowledge about it or how it worked. I knew how to build a website and I was confident about producing the content, I just needed to decide what the website/blog was going to be.
While out on a long run with my training partner and fellow running coach one Sunday, I suddenly announced I was going to create a website about our love of the sport. So, I got home, had a shower and got my laptop out. I didn’t put it down until 10.30pm that night but by the end of it I had the beginnings of my website. Calling in a favour from my web designer friend, she very kindly gave it the once over and I was set. Except – I had no content, I had no traffic, I just had a head full of ideas and a real excitement to get started.
What Did I Want the Blog to Do?
More than just a trail running blog, I wanted some structure and substance to the site. As a coach, I wanted to share all the knowledge and experience in a way that would make sense to fellow runners. We had so much knowledge to share that this would be a hub of structured information containing everything we had ever wanted to know in our early days of running. I didn’t just want to write about running in general. I wanted it to be specific to the niche of trail running. This was the first task ticked off the list – deciding on a niche for my blog and the purpose of the website.
Creating Content for a Blog
Next I needed content but not just content that I could stick affiliate links in and hope to make money from. I needed genuine content that would answer the questions that people were asking:
- How do I get faster?
- How do I get stronger?
- What makes a good trial runner?
- How do I train for an ultra marathon?
- What race nutrition do I need?
- What are the best trail running shoes?
I could go on with a list of questions that we could turn into effective blogs but after 6 months of hard graft, I have now answered these questions and more with over 50 blogs and 25 pages of content.
How to Get Traffic to My Blog
I have been in this digital marketing game for a long time and know that without some work, you aren’t ever going to get traffic. I knew in theory how to get traffic to my blog. I just needed to put all the advice I have ever given my customers into practise. it wasn’t going to be easy either – I was going to need to be committed to this project and not just pick it up every now and again.
Social Media Pages
I started with a Facebook page and an Instagram account. Your social media platforms of choice will largely depend on your audience and the type of information you are going to share. There are so many spectacular views to had while out trail running so I started a Facebook page and an Instagram account. I could use the Facebook page to promote the blog and the Instagram page to share my images. If you are currently googling ‘how to get traffic to my blog’ and you know how to use Facebook, this is going to be one of your key tools.
Joining Facebook Groups
I post every blog to Facebook. I also get a wider reach because I have joined many groups as my page. These groups have thousands of members all obsessed with trail running so I knew this is where I would find my audience. When I use my laptop to post a blog, I get asked if I would like to share it to these groups. Now these groups have rules on SPAM and self-promotion, they also have administrators that can turn down your post. I always make sure the posts add value, that my content is useful and that people aren’t going to see it as just self-promotion with a load of affiliate links. The key here is to take your time and find the most relevant groups where you are going to reach large numbers of your potential audience.
I found that the most successful content is that which answers the most popular questions. Even more popular though are the tongue in cheek blogs that answer the more humours common questions:
- Dating a trail runner
- How much cake can I eat
- What to do when you need the loo
These are great posts for sharing.
Reddit is also another great place for sharing content however, be mindful of the groups you join or you could end up with a load of visitors from the states which isn’t much use to me. I shared a piece about dating a trail runner and had 600 visitors to my site in a 24 hour period – some of these were UK based but many were global.
Paying for Social Ads
I set myself a strict budget – after all, I wasn’t making any money so I needed to keep the cost down. Luckily, solutions such as Blue Host allow you to create your website for less than a hundred pounds so with my agreed investment budget of £300 for the whole project, I had a little left over for advertising. I played around with ads on Facebook. I found I got loads of traffic but none of it was very effective. They visited my product pages (the reviews were what I boosted mostly) but never any sales. I was not reaching an active audience – they were too passive.
What the ads were great for though were growing my Facebook page and I managed to amass 800 likes very quickly and for very little investment. My top tip – if you are going to use Facebook marketing – use it for likes campaigns.
SEO – Optimising the Site for Search Engines
Optimisation is key and I am extremely lucky that I know how to optimise a blog. I have a plug in called Yoast which comes with WordPress. You can set all this up when you sign up to a hosting package. A good one is Blue Host which allows you to buy your domain name, sort your hosting, build your website and get your security certificate all in one place. Then, when your site is live, download the Yoast plug in and off you go. Yoast is an excellent tr5affic light tool which guides you through the process of optimising a post. It’s really useful if you are a beginner.
Every single post is optimised for a specific term. I used the Google Keyword Planner to decide on my keyword strategy finding a range of popular and reasonably popular search terms to include in my article. It is worth noting that the most popular terms are harder to get ranking in Google so try longer tail phrases. Instead of trail running, try best trail running training tips for example. Here are a few that I am now ranking on page 1 of google for
- Hill rep sessions
- Aonijie hydration vest review
- Core strength training for trail runners
- Ultra marathon running backpack
It’s not immediate and 3 of these articles were written earlier in the site development but gradually my articles are gathering momentum and ranking on the first page.