A WordPress.com blog may get a small boost of readers, but not as many as you’d hope.
There are certain feeds and “recommended/related stories” here and there, but a new blog would likely received dozens of views a month, 100–200 at most organically, excluding social promotion or ads.
Sure, this may be compared to ~10 views/month with a new self-hosted blog, but the difference is fairly minimal. Once you scale your own blog to several thousand readers a month, the margin will be negligible.
The second problem with hosted platforms is the reliance on 3rd parties who tend to change their rules regularly. A few examples.
- Medium used to be a great place to start, with opportunities to get featured and receive some decent exposure on some stories. It’s revenue model fell short a couple years ago, so they fired a third of their staff and transitioned to a subscription-based model for many of their blogs.
- LinkedIn relied on articles several years ago. Since this market got saturated and video became more important (YouTube being the second largest search engine), LinkedIn now bets on videos and boosts them further.
- Facebook was the go-to place for building an audience (through pages). Fans were seeing updates in their own feed. As of late last year, page updates were exported to a separate tab (which nobody looks at really). Even with millions of fans on your page, you’re as good as someone just starting off — unless you invest in ads and boosted posts targeting your own fans.
On top of that, blogging in 2018 is light years ahead of blogging in 2008, or even 2012. Competition is fierce in most places. A decade ago, a 300-word blog post could have ranked well for some niches. Nowadays, 1,500 words and even 2,000+ become a standard for most blogs, even corporate ones.
Your best bet is building an omni-channel approach leading to your own website.
- Craft content on your end. Work on the user experience bit, different call to actions, subscription boxes, archives, newsletters and such.
- Post on social media. Repurpose stories and build audience there.
- Invest in ads. Start small at first and ramp up once you get some traction.
- Consider guest posting. It’s an effective way to build backlinks and lead traffic back to your site.
- Find partnership opportunities. You may organize other forms of events that, again, lead to your website.
- Maintain your email list – it’s a strong tool in your toolbox worth expanding.
- Build a personal brand. Becoming an industry expert builds credibility toward your own site. And you get to join podcasts, webinars, invitations to conferences where your target audience hangs out.
It’s a lot more work than it used to be and your content has to be spectacular. Most topics have been beaten to death in dozens, if not hundreds of blogs. Aim for quality, education, depth. Study the Skyscraper technique by Brian Dean.
Build a complete content plan for months to come. Content exposure gets amplified once you build a story, a sequence of relevant posts revolving around the same vertical.
And maintain a frequent posting schedule – at least once a week, possibly multiple times. You may start seeing some results within 6 months and some promising volume of visitors within a year.
It’s a long play, but it’s worth it. Your content is an asset – especially the evergreen ones.