I love September.
Seriously, it’s my favourite time of year as all the schools come back and Edublogs gets to flex it’s muscles.
Specifically, this happens:
And not only that, but we also just managed to pass 10,000 active users in one day and are now Quantified as one of the worlds top 5,000 websites.
Sure, it’s been a bumpy ride over the years, but I figured I’d let you in on a few tips on how we’ve grown Edublogs.org – and how you can do the same for your WordPress MU site:
Never underestimate the power of email
The best thing that you can do to encourage your existing users, retain new ones and remain in the minds of people who use your site is by email, and there are a few ways that we do that.
Make sure you have a great mailing list provider – We use the MailChimp integration plugin to automatically add new users to our mailing list.
Follow up your new user signups – we us the automatic email follow up plugin to send out a series of helpful and encouraging emails to new users
Let your users invite their friends to use the service – we use the invitation plugin to allow them to simply do just that!
And, if you’d rather keep your email in house, you can also use the mass email sender plugin.
Help and Support maketh the site
This may come as some hard reading for some people, but the best way that you can engage your users, keep them coming back and make them recommend your site to others is by offering tons of help and support.
Sure, some of this can be automated, for example, you can provide support videos for users and a fully documented Help and Support guide.
But at the end of the day, people power wins out and that’s where an excellent integrated support system can save the day.
And, of course, you’re going to want to provide integrated forums…. which is why we provide not only a highly customizable Edublogs homepage theme clone but also a brilliant bbPress theme that integrates perfectly with that.
And finally, it’s great practice to show your users a series of random tips (and even sales messages :) via your admin area too – and for that purpose we use the admin area tips plugin here.
Alongside the admin message plugin – for when you just want to communicate the one thing :)
Let your users create other users and blogs for you
This is an oft overlooked area of functionality and one that I loved the moment I saw it in Yahoo Groups back in the day… why get new users to come to you when you can get your existing users to create accounts (and in this case blogs) for their friends and colleagues!
And that’s something we’ve been focused on since the early days at Edublogs, and you can do easily too using the exact same tools as us!
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In the first instance, you can give yourself the power to create as many blogs and users as you like using the batch create plugin.
And then, in the second, you can hand over that power to the users (just like we o at Edublogs) with the Blog and User creator plugin.
You’ll have thousands of blogs, even if they are created by only hundreds of users, in no time!
And finally, tracking your stats
The only way you’re going to know how well you are doing is by getting in some good traffic analytics.
And this is another area where we very much eat our own dog food!
You can use our sitewide Google analytics plugin to both offer your users the facility to use Google Analytics, while also tracking *at the same time* your sitewide Analytics stats.
How neat is that :)
And of course there’s plenty more you can do to build a successful site, like fostering community, focusing on SEO and a heap of other approaches… but I figured that given that the above are the main ways in which Edublogs has grown it’s use, and given that it’s September, we’d share with you how we do it, and how you can to!