Your content lives two lives
In my experience each piece of content that gets produced has two lives. One happens in the first ~7 days, and one that happens after that. Both are incredibly important for you to understand in order to get your content to the next step.
The First 7 Days
In the first 7 days after your content is posted you are likely posting it to social media outlets, your getting people to post it, your visitors are sharing it on their social networks, you might have an email that you send out to promote, and other general one off promotions.
This strategy is very different from what happens afterwards when you stop promoting it. It is however a critical period where the first burst of people read the content. These users typically are coming from on of the above channels, and are sometimes less likely to convert because they are in content mode, and not looking to download something. Nailing down your initial distribution strategy is a challenge, but is critical.
Your social profile with a couple hundred or thousand followers probably doesn’t drive the traffic that you would expect. This means that we need to get creative with the way you promote your content. Each site is different, because your readers are different from mine. The key is to test out different channels, and on those channels try out different headlines to attract users to your site. Ask a friend to tweet your post for you, and reach out to people for feedback on a post.
This initial phase is about getting people in to your site who will then help you find others that are interested, its about community and finding regular readers. These people will get you in front of a different, but important and influential audience.
After the first 7 days
Once the initial boost is traffic is over, there is a dead period. If you have focused on SEO, this period will soon be over. If you haven’t, then you might luck out, but you also might only get a slow drip for the rest of time. Once SEO kicks in, it provides a special kind of traffic. Its the type of traffic that builds on top of itself and builds sustainable growth (much like recurring revenue).
The SEO traffic starts to kick in 4 weeks or maybe even 4 months after your initial traffic. Before then its a slow rise (but don’t get discouraged). SEO traffic captures people who are in-market and looking for the problem your solving with your content. Make sure that its helpful for this user, a bounced visit helps no-ones cause, unless you get paid from advertising.
You’re goal should be to increase the time it takes to get SEO traffic driving you in. This is a mechanism you can use to grow your blog traffic quicker. The levers here are: producing great content consistently, and getting links. Consistent content production is easy to understand. Google likes when a blog/content section is constantly getting updated. It makes Google more likely to crawl your site more often. The links are tougher. Everyone has their own way, and that’s a post for another time. My tip for now: focus on creating valuable content.
Not every piece of content works for each step. There is some content that does really well for social, but not as well for SEO. Understand that, and utilize the content where it fits best. If its a pieces that will do well for social, figure out ways to promote that are tailored to that.
Focus on making great content, but keep an eye on the two lives of your content. Keep both in mind as you produce. Test during both periods to see how you can improve the traffic for each. They are going to help you grow your blog traffic and get from 5k to 100k visitors (or more).