Design. The way your blog looks is just as important as the content. You can start simple and then expand your look as needed. A branded banner goes a long way toward a pleasing design and blog recognition. You can see how my banner for my shop and my blog are similar. You’ll also want to tweak the colors to match. If you want to get fancy and play with columns and more advanced designs you can use free templates or themes. A simple search for free wordpress themes or free blogger templates will yield a good number of results to choose from. The rest is just installing and tweaking to suit your needs.
Link Back. Include links back to older articles in your posts where relevant to encourage readers to click through and read more. This increases the time they spend on your blog and means more of a chance they’ll want to return at a later date or learn more about you by checking out your online shop. (Example.) I also suggest using a widget called Link Within.
Incorporate your shop into your blog.
Because blogging is one of the most effective ways to bring visitors to your online shop, you want to make sure it’s easy to find your shop through your blog. I do this in two ways.
Include a link to your shop in the sidebar. I actually have two links to my shop, Rebecca’s Soap Delicatessen, in the sidebar of my blog. At the top I have icons for my shop and all of my social networks. This is common. My shop is represented by a shopping cart icon I made in Gimp. However, because icons aren’t always obvious and readers sometimes need a little more incentive, I also include a photo of my soaps below my blog description with my shop’s name linked to my shop and a short description of what I sell. Some bloggers also use buttons or ads they’ve created for this.
Include links to your shop in your blog posts. Including links to your ecommerce website in your blog posts as part of the content is a great way to entice them to click through as it doesn’t seem like an advertisement. It’s obvious to link back to your shop if you’re discussing a new product that’s now available for sale, but you’ll want to include links to specific products that are relevant to what you are blogging about in other types of articles when possible as well. (Example.)
|Traffic Growth from Soap Deli News|
Drive traffic to your blog.
If you don’t work to promote your blog, chances are no one will know it’s there to read. So a little leg work to get it seen is necessary. In my article, How to increase business by driving traffic to your blog, I give in depth information on getting your blog seen. You can refer to that article for how to increase your traffic through methods such as google, social media, stumble upon, pinterest, craftgawker, giveaways, tumblr, and other useful methods.
However, since that article I have also been experimenting with increasing traffic through blog link parties. Link parties are basically hosted by a blog and allow you to link your own specific blog posts to their blog article for more exposure. They are not the same as blog hops, which allow you to link your main blog url. I find that link parties are incredibly more effective in driving traffic to your blog than blog hops. Many participants take the time to visit your blog post, read your content, and comment. Additionally, many bloggers who host link parties will feature their favorite posts on their next link (or linky) party. If you are featured, it means even more views for you a second time around. (You can see where my Handmade Soap Wedding Favor Tutorial was featured in this Sunday Linky Party from Petite Hermine.)
When I added link parties to the regular marketing of my blog in addition to the other methods, I saw an increase of several thousand new visitors to my blog a day. So in my opinion it’s definitely worth the time it takes.
Generally, most bloggers run link parties on a regular basis, one day a week on the same day every week. The day of the week depends on the blog. The parties are also generally specific. Many of the most popular parties feature diy projects, but there are also parties for recipes, paper crafts (specifically), giveaways, household tips, weddings, home decorating, table scapes and other topics. Most link parties require a link back to their blog in some way. Some are very specific and require a link back in the post you are linking up. Others only require a button or text link back in your sidebar or somewhere on your blog. Some require no link back at all though it’s good etiquette to do so anyway.
Additionally, there are link parties that are simply text only and then parties that also show a photo thumbnail. The parties with photo thumbnails are the most effective for me which is why it’s a good idea to always have a photo on every blog article you write.
Now that you know linky parties work, how do you find them? Basically, google is your friend. Normally what I do is search for link parties by day. For example, I’d type into google search “Sunday blog link party” or “Sunday linky party” using several different combinations. If you are looking for specific types of parties, add that to your search description. Obviously if it’s Sunday, I’m going to search for Sunday link parties. If it’s Monday, search for Monday link parties. Then, on the left hand column where it says Everything, you’ll want to click on More. Click Blogs, then scroll down to where it says Any Time and click on Past 24 Hours. This will bring up the latest blog parties posted. Sometimes you can go several pages in and still find great, newly posted parties. Repeat this everyday, using a new day of the week to find new parties and add your links according to the link party guidelines. Eventually you’ll have a list of parties that are most effective for you and can add these parties to a list of blogs you add your link to regularly on specific days. You should track which parties are bringing you traffic through google analytics.
If you’re interested in seeing some of the parties I link up to, I have a list of blogs that I “party” with under Blogs I [Heart] in the right hand column on my blog, Soap Deli News. The majority of the blogs I link to offer weekly parties for sharing your latest projects, diy tutorials, recipes, and tips. If these parties aren’t relevant to your blog topics, then you’ll need to make specific searches to find parties that are relevant to your content.
Good luck and happy blogging!