So you’re starting a blog for your business? Or perhaps have a fledgling one with a few posts, but not much to show for it yet?

Firstly, congratulations. You’ve made a big step in the right direction.

Approached in the right way, your blog can end up becoming one of your business’s biggest assets.

One day you can look back and feel pretty—dare I say it—smug.

You’ll have incoming traffic, highly targeted for your business, arriving on auto-pilot and providing a constant supply of leads and new customers for your business.

(Plus you’ll have ready content to use to keep in touch with existing customers, build your relationship with them, and keep them coming back for more…)

That’s the good news.

But…

Yes, you felt it coming, didn’t you? There’s always a but…

The reality is, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and effort in the early months before you start seeing returns for your business.

For a while you’re going to feel a bit—sometimes a lot—like this:

  • Am I the only one reading my blog? (Yep, zero traffic in the stats, no one commenting, sharing or seemingly taking any notice whatsoever)
Zero traffic for a new blog

It can be tough when no-one’s reading your blog in the beginning.

  • It’s not working! I should be doing something more useful with my time. (After all, most of us are trained to expect—and want—instant gratification.)
  • I don’t have what it takes. I’m not worthy. Who’s going to want to read this cr** anyway? (Imposter syndrome, anyone? Blogging can bring it out in the best of us.)

99.9% of great bloggers are not awesome on day 1. Their awesomeness is the accumulation of the value they create over time.
Darren Rowse

So yes, blogging isn’t just hard in the early days. It can be positively torturous, especially when you have everything else in your business to think about and take care of:

  • There’s seemingly little reward
  • Nothing seems to be happening in terms of benefits
  • You keep having to pump out new content to an apparently non-existent audience.

So why bother?

Let’s fast forward two to three years (assuming you’re publishing on a regular basis, say weekly) and see what you’ve created:

  • You now have hundreds, possibly thousands, of visitors arriving on your blog every month, independent of advertising expenditure
  • These visitors are highly targeted, and give your business a regular supply of dozens of new leads (at least) every month
  • As you publish new content on your blog, your traffic stats and other analytics continue to climb
  • As your blog increases in influence it becomes easier to attract other promotional opportunities for your business—podcast appearances, joint ventures with other businesses, guest posting opportunities, offline publishing opportunities and so on.
  • If you’ve been creating the content personally, it’s no longer such a struggle. Your expertise has grown, your writing ability has grown, and you’re becoming the authority and the influencer that can help your business skyrocket.
After two to three years, your stats start to look a lot more healthy

After a couple years of regular publishing, you’ll likely be attracting hundreds if not thousands of visitors a month. It starts to get a lot easier.

As the rewards become more tangible, unsurprisingly it becomes a lot easier. You’re no longer struggling for motivation nor do you doubt it’s working. You now know it is.

Instead, you can optimize it, hunker down, do more of it and accelerate your results.

Sure, it may take nearly all day sometimes to create that next blog post. Or maybe you have someone else creating them for you.

But each new post is an asset that:

  • Will attract hundreds of leads to your business over the months and years ahead
  • Helps other content on your blog and elsewhere grow in search visibility
  • Can be repurposed across multiple other platforms
  • Helps you grow your social audiencescrucial for SEO and marketing in general (explained more below)
  • Enables you to keep in contact with your community, build relationships, and encourage new customers and repeat purchases

But all of this simply never happens if you’re not willing to simply keep on keeping on in the first few months—and years—and accept delayed gratification.

The thing about all successful people is, they all started somewhere. They didn’t just wake up one morning with an international clothing company, or a graphic design firm, or a famous cupcake shop, or a blog with 50,000 readers … It’s all about the baby steps.
Angi Clark

As you’re no doubt aware, this ability to accept delayed gratification is a key success trait, and applies to many aspects of business and personal life:

  • Want that six pack? Expect several weeks in the gym along with severe dietary restrictions before you start seeing any benefits.
  • Want to be a successful author? J K Rowling spent months writing Harry Potter, and then had it rejected 12 times. Imagine what she—and her fans—would have lost if she’d just given up. It was little better when she began writing under the pen name ‘R Galbraith’:
J K Rowling's rejection letters

J.K. Rowling knows the value of not giving up. Image copyright J.K. Rowling

  • Heard of the marshmallow experiment? The children who left the marshmallow alone so they could get a second one later (and so get double the reward) had far more successful and healthier lives.

If you want some real evidence of how real businesses can grow and become hugely successful through blogging, check out these 10 case studies.

All of them spent months or years with nothing much happening. They carried on regardless. You just need faith in the process and faith in the destination you’re trying to reach.

Today, marketing is about optimizing for the relationship. It’s about making deposits… before you start making withdrawals… In other words, give your prospects valuable, usable content they actually want before you ask them for money.
Russ Henneberry, Digital Marketer (Merging of Direct Response and Branding)

So, yes—it’s hard in the beginning.

But how can you approach it so you:

  • Start attracting traffic to your blog earlier?
  • Keep focused in those early weeks and months so you keep going and enjoy the fruits later on?

Here are 5 key tips for building traffic to your new blog:

In the Beginning, Forget Traffic—Just Create Content

Don’t think about traffic too much in the beginning. After all, there won’t be much, if any.

It takes months for example for Google to start taking the content on your blog more seriously, and for you to start seeing meaningful organic search traffic.

So, at the beginning—don’t worry about it.

Instead, your focus should be just on creating content for your business’s blog. That might be you, someone on your team, or someone you outsource it to.

When your blog's just starting, to get long-term traffic just focus on creating content for the first few months

Just focus on creating content on your blog for the first few months.

Try getting as much content created for your blog as you can within 90 days.

See it a bit like writing a book. Plan out your content so that each post is a new chapter—or perhaps, part of one—and see your blog as a place to save your work.

(Hint: One way to repurpose your blog’s content—and get a ton more value out of it—is as a book, such as for the Kindle and tap into Amazon’s vast audience. Here’s how…)

Fast forward twelve months. Hopefully you’ve got 50+ posts on different topics of interest to your market. You can now start looking at traffic and ways to optimize and ramp it up.

The early weeks and months is also time you should be spending learning the craft and improving your blogging skills.

Even if someone else is largely taking care of it, you need to oversee, direct and manage it to ensure it’s going to be effective.

This all takes experience, successes and setbacks along the way and time.

Have Realistic Expectations

Tony Robbins has a story where he was on a flight and as they were about to take off, the pilot announced the plane would for the first time have free wifi available.

The passengers, including Tony, were delighted.

The only problem was that after 12 minutes, the wifi went offline and remained unavailable for the remainder of the flight.

No longer elated, the passengers instead became annoyed, angry and resentful. They began criticising the airline and complaining to the flight crew.

The problem was one of expectations.

They now expected wifi to be available. Its absence caused anguish.

However, at the start of the flight, they had no such expectation. If no one had created the expectation, there’d be no such complaints.

My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.
Stephen Hawking

The same goes for your blog.

If you’re expecting to write a few posts and then see traffic rolling in, you’re going to be disappointed, disillusioned and be ready to give up which would be disastrous.

The main problem is you won’t be able to see—yet—what you’d be sacrificing in terms of future benefits for your business.

So do the opposite.

Expect zero traffic to your business’s new blog for at least the first year.

(Sure, you might get some. See that as an unexpected bonus.)

With lower expectations at the beginning, you’ll have more patience along the way. You’ll be far more likely to succeed longer term.

After all, you wouldn’t expect a book to start getting sales when only the first few chapters had been written, would you?

Once you’ve got 12 chapters—yep, 12 months’ worth of blogging—then start thinking about traffic.

Start expecting to see some.

But even then, keep those expectations down to earth. Expect some traffic, sure. But don’t expect to be top of Alexa just yet.

Repurpose Content onto Other Content Platforms—Including Blogs

As regular readers will be aware, I talk a lot on this blog about the value of repurposing your content, and the multiple benefits of doing so. (For the full picture, get my Content Authority Formula).

Truth is, if you’re creating content for your business and solely publishing it on your blog, you’re leaving a large proportion of the potential benefits of that content on the table.

On starting a new blog for your business, you won’t be attracting much if any traffic.

In contrast, these content platforms have traffic in spades.

You can get your content in front of vast audiences who otherwise would never see it. This can drive traffic back to your blog and website as a whole, as well as build your list through content upgrades.

Content repurposing also has multiple SEO benefits.

Here are a few guides on how to repurpose content effectively for different content platforms:

See too if you can get content published on other more establish blogs in your industry that attract more traffic than you. In other words, guest posting.

Many such blogs are on the lookout for quality content they can use of interest to their marketplace. In return, you can get links, traffic and increased visibility.

Build Your Social Following

The early years of your business’s blog—and your content marketing strategy in general—are your investment years, not the reward years.

You’re building the foundations, and part of that has to include building your social following across different social networks.

I saw a business recently that had been publishing (largely ineffective) content onto Twitter fairly regularly for several months and only had under 30 followers.

Zero engagement.

Why were they doing this?

Presumably, it was to tick a box and say they were “on social”.

Or, more likely, they’d hired a web agency to take care of it and left them to it, assuming that what they were doing was correct.

Instead, focus on building your business’s social following at the same time as growing your blog for multiple benefits:

[That’s just four benefits of using social media for business. Here’s a list of twelve with more info on each.]

Again, these are long-term strategies.

Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.
Napoleon Hill

So How Do You Build Your Social Following?

There’s a post here specifically on how to build Twitter followers, but in general:

  • Follow others. However crude it might seem, it’s effective. A proportion of those you follow will follow you back.
  • Share content regularly. The more content you share, the more visible you are and the easier it is for your potential market to find you.
  • Engage with others as much as you can. Again, it increases your visibility, providing more chances for others to follow you.
  • Use paid advertisingMany social networks allow you to promote your brand in order to attract followers. You may not see an immediate benefit in terms of ROI, but again it’s a long-term play.
  • Repurpose content. By repurposing content on platforms like Medium, Quora, SlideShare, YouTube and so on, you get in front of potentially millions of people in your marketplace. Invite them to follow you on social through your profiles on these platforms and within the content itself.

Focus on the Assets You’re Building

Sure, one blog post on its own won’t do much. But think about all the benefits that each blog post spawns.

It’s a content asset that continues working for your business in many ways, such as by repurposing it many times over.

But it’s not just the content itself that becomes one of your business’s key assets.

If you’re creating the content yourself, you’re also creating an asset in you and the expertise you’re developing.

Creating content regularly means you become the expert (even if you don’t feel much of one when first starting out).

Regular publishing requires a lot of research. It’s a great way learn a huge amount on a wide variety of topics related to your industry.

You may also spot business processes you could be approaching differently and improve them.

By way of example, here’s a quick confession …

I wasn’t using a content calendar at all for this blog until I wrote a post a few weeks backyou can see it hereon just that topic.

It made me keenly aware just how valuable using one could be.

So, rather than continuing to put it off, I spent time creating one. As a result:

  • I now have all the content for this blog planned out for the next six months
  • By planning ahead, I’m better able to outsource some aspects of it and thereby use my own time as effectively as possible
  • I’m already enjoying many of the benefits.

This is just one example of many.

To Conclude

You’ll have noticed this post focuses a lot on simply “keeping going” in the early days, when traffic (and often motivation too) is thin on the ground.

This is one of the most crucial aspects of attracting traffic to your business’s new blog.

Most give up way, way too early. The rewards—and they are considerable—are there for those who don’t.

So, if you’re just getting started with a blog for your business and trying to get traffic to it, this post will hopefully act as a useful motivational jolt you can periodically refer back to.

In summary:

  • Keep creating content, consistently
  • Focus on building up your social profiles
  • Start sharing your content regularly, even if no one else is (yet)
  • Repurpose your content in multiple ways
  • Focus on the long-term benefits—and forget about instant rewards.