“How do I get more traffic to my blog?”
We get asked this all the time. It’s not a small problem, and unfortunately, it’s not a simple problem either. There are thousands of ways to increase your traffic and everyone has a strategy to offer. And, if you have endless time, you might be able to do them all–and you’d most likely see great results–but the reality for most of us is that we have to choose between just a few strategies and hope for the best.
And let’s be honest. Some of us get so overwhelmed, we don’t do anything.
It’s ok. We get it. But getting overwhelmed and just ignoring the opportunities isn’t going to get results. You can’t keep doing the same things that didn’t work before and expect different results.
So, today we tackle the topic of differentiation to create more blog traffic
One thing we see amongst all the bloggers we work with is a massive similarity between different blogs. Especially amongst fashion bloggers there seems to be a very consistent pattern in the types of posts people create.
And it makes sense. We look at the successful bloggers and think, “I can do that!” And then we mirror what we see. We create OOTD posts, we use the same Shop My Look banners, and we cross our fingers that our audience will grow and we’ll be the next fashion blogger celebrity to get an all-expense paid trip to NYFW and sit front row.
Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people at least, this may not be a winning strategy.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Some of you have amazing style; you have fantastic photos; and your blog is beautiful. The problem is that we may have reached a certain saturation of fashion bloggers. That means following the same pattern as other bloggers may not allow you to stand out. And if you don’t stand out, it’s going to be much harder to get readers to return to your site.
Being an early blogger on a topic is a massive advantage.
No matter what niche your blog is in, there are people who started blogging about that topic early in the niche’s lifespan. And those that got there early will almost always reap the biggest benefits.
Take a look at some of the current fashion blogger celebrities. There are a few newcomers each year, but for the most part, the people who’ve reached the highest levels are the ones who really broke through early on in the infancy of fashion blogging.
They took the risks when there was no one to follow. They tried and failed at all the small steps along the way. They persevered when it felt like nobody wanted bloggers to be writing about fashion. And they showed the world what was possible. They earned their place at the top by being early and creating the blueprint we all take for granted.
And then there are the outliers who just click with an audience and skyrocket to success while the rest of us sit around and scratch our heads and think, “how did they do that?”
Let’s be clear, success isn’t always evenly (or fairly) distributed.
Some people have incredible style and truly stand out in a sea of me-too blogs.
Some people just work harder and want it more than anyone else and sacrifice everything for their success.
Some people have just the right connections and know the right people and they get to skip ahead past a lot of steps that normal people have to slog through on their own.
Some people just get noticed by the right person at the right time and land that one opportunity that opens all the doors from then on.
Sometimes success is warranted, sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s a combination of things. It’s not always fair, and it doesn’t always make sense.
That’s both the bad news and the good. You never know if you’ll be one of those people where success just shows up, and success online is truly open to all of us. There are no gatekeepers. Some people have keys to certain shortcuts, but there is no brick wall that will hold you back. You just may have to work harder than it seems some other people do. Is it fair? Who knows, but to argue that point will only hold you back. Accept your fate and choose to move past it.
Now, finally, let’s talk about differentiation.
I mentioned earlier that there may be a saturation point, when it comes to any blogging niche, where there are only so many blogs that can continue to be successful. It’s a hard reality, but again, it doesn’t have to be bad news.
If you are committed to success, there’s still a niche out there that isn’t being served. It may not result in the type of success Chiara Ferragni has, but if you can find your audience–and serve them in a way they haven’t seen anywhere else–then you have a path to increasing traffic and audience and engagement.
But how do I be different?
That’s the million dollar question, right?
There are some people who are different and who do it with a beautiful, crazy, out there style that somehow works for them. You look at their style and it’s just this beautiful chaos. Maybe you see that and think, “YES! I can do that.” Or maybe you think, “Whoaaaaaa there. Not my thing.” But you have to at least appreciate that they’re doing something unique.
This is a great post from earlier this year that highlights some uncommon approaches from 9 fashion bloggers with a unique sense of style .
Let’s take a deeper look at one, shall we?
Kelsey Bang has something really unique going on. For one, her husband is featured in the majority of her posts, and her Instagram feed includes him probably around 90% of the time. Their photos are often set amongst beautiful backdrops in nature. There’s this intense sense of intimacy between them. Looking through their posts and images, you feel that you’ve been invited into their lives, not just their closets. And you get a sense of their humanity, not just their individual fashion. The format of the blog is not wildly different than most fashion blogs: lots of fun photos and cool outfits. Yet compare this site to a typical of fashion blog and this one will stand out.
Now, let’s take a look at Effortless Gent by Barron Cuadro.
Barron has an impeccable style. He’s always dashing, always charming, and it always looks–as he puts it so well–effortless. But what makes his brand stand out is that it’s less about him and more about his readers. He is the guide, and his readers are the hero of the story. He’s there to help “young professionals dress well every day.”
His articles demonstrate his style and his approach to dressing well, but the posts are educational. They show young men how to feel confident in their decisions. He provides fool-proof advice for those that are unsure of how to dress well. He monetizes the site through courses and guides. And as you scroll through his blog, it’s an inviting experience that allows you to feel like you’re part of his circle, that his style is accessible to you, that you can be as effortlessly charming and stylish as he is.
This is a big departure from many fashion blogs that seem like they’re more a celebration of the author and the author's fantastic lifestyle. Nothing wrong with those, but Barron taps into a different desire in his audience and as a result stands out amongst his peers.
Be different your way. And don’t stop until you find it.
Now, an important point here is that you can’t just go and imitate these people. You can’t be different and stand out by following other people who are different. You need to find out who you really are. What you bring to the table. What your uniqueness is, and learn how to communicate that.
Yes, this is hard. It can be very hard and it takes time and possibly even some soul searching. But it’s vital.
And think of all the time and effort you already spend on growing your traffic. Think of all the effort you’ve put into creating your blog and the sweat and blood you’ve poured into your little corner of the web. Isn’t it worth it to push just a little bit further? Don’t stop now. You’ve done 80% of the hard stuff, but the last 20% will be what makes your site unique and special.
How do you find your sweet spot?
So, now comes the hard part. How do you define your approach. How do you stand out? What is it that you do to be different.
Some ideas to help you get started.
Do you have a very compelling and consistent style? Do you use the same filter in all of your photos? Do you always jump in the air with your hands at your hips? Do you emphasize juxtaposition or color or the rule of thirds in your photos? Do you always carry an umbrella? Are all of your shots taken at night/morning or are you always at the beach?
Sometimes having one consistent string throughout all of your photos gives them a sense of purpose. You have to be just a little bit more intentional, and as a result, all of your photos seem to be better. It doesn’t matter what it is, but finding a rule or a prop or an approach to photography and sticking to it can not only help you stand out but help you create something that’s yours and yours alone.
Do you have an explicit audience you blog for? Does your audience have a common identity? There are blogs for plus-size fashion, LBGTQ fashion, men’s fashion… One of our readers, Hillary Dixon, named her blog Style in a Small Town. There’s a clear understanding of who she is, what her blog will cover, and a sense of where she feels she fits into the world. In her case, she also communicates all of that just with her blog’s name.
What is your sub-niche? Don’t be afraid to go another level deeper. Maybe you’re the punk-rock, vegan, plus-sized fashion blog. If that’s your thing, own it. Your audience potential may be a bit smaller as a result, but your audience engagement will likely be much much higher. If someone can immediately realize a sense of their own identity in you, you’ll have a much easier time connecting with them over a longer period of time. You’ll build a true fan versus a drive-by visitor who comes and leaves and never comes again.
Does your blog serve a specific purpose? We already talked about Barron Cuadro and that his purpose is to help young men dress more stylish. What is your purpose? Are you highlighting eco-friendly fashion? Or fair-labor fashion? Do your posts discuss the number of ways you style a certain piece? Does every post you have go beyond inspiration and into education?
Knowing your purpose and zeroing in on it will help you know how to communicate your message to the world.
One thing is certain, a blog without purpose is easy to spot. It’s often lacking cohesion. The posts are all over the place. There’s no sense of rhythm or consistency. And as a result, nobody can self-identify with it. These blogs are easy to leave behind.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with experimentation. With trying everything before you settle on who you are. Like life, some people leave the womb with a mission and a purpose, and others may not find themselves until after retirement. But the point is, are you searching for that identity and purpose or have you ignored the concept altogether?
Wrapping it all together
Hopefully, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve at least had an idea about something that anchors you in a different direction. The point of this post is not to shame anyone, but instead, to direct you towards finding a mission and a sense of intentionality to your blog that allows you to be truly you.
Because we all want more traffic. We want a larger, more engaged audience. We want our efforts to be meaningful to someone out there, or we’d just keep these photos and blog posts to ourselves. Yet, if we aren’t bringing a focus to our work, we’ll have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get noticed. Someone out there loves what you’re doing. They love everything about you and your style and your work. So now, let’s go find them. And let’s find ourselves as well so when the two of you meet, you’ll be BFFs in no time.
Or, at least they’ll become devoted fans of your blog and you’ll be that much closer to your goal.