If you’re a blogger, hitting the “publish” button is one of the scariest actions you can take. Publish means there’s no turning back. All of those late nights, extra cups of coffee and agonizing over titles and image placement culminate with a single click.

The only thing scarier than hitting publish is complete silence afterwards. No page views, shares or comments after all that hard work: a blogger’s worst nightmare.

It takes guts to put yourself out there as a blogger, so don’t let your best work go to waste. Use these tips to maximize each piece of content you write and drive more traffic to your blog.

1. Start an email list

You had to see this one coming, right? Here’s the deal: 80 percent of daily blog visits are new. People who are new to your blog probably don’t have time to comb through your top posts. You need a way to capture those people so they keep coming back and make a great first impression by showing off your best blog posts.

That’s why, even if you’re just getting started, adding a sign up form to your blog is one of the most important things you can do to turn one-time website visitors into returning (and loyal!) subscribers.

Ramit Sethi promotes his best content in his sign up form to keep new site visitors coming back. Here’s how he does it.

What, you don’t have a New York Times bestseller? (I’m joking.) You can still promote your best content in your sign up form. For example, your form could say something like, “Get the most effective clean-eating tips now!” Then, in your welcome email, you can include links to your best blog posts about clean eating.

2. Become a guest blogger

Guest blogging gets your content in front of newer, bigger audiences and positions you as a thought leader. It’s one of the most effective ways you can drive traffic to your blog. Henneke Duistermaat gained about 300 subscribers from guest-blogging alone. By leveraging that following, she now has 24K+ email subscribers and 10-12K monthly visitors to her blog.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Step one: become an awesome guest blogger.

Find guest posting opportunities

To get started, make a list of blogs similar to yours that you read regularly and any influencers in your space that have a blog.

If you’re having trouble finding guest posting opportunities, check out all the blogs where your industry influencers have contributed. To find them, search for the influencer’s name + “my posts on other blogs,” “guest posts,” “featured on,” and so on. It may take a little digging, but you should uncover a slew of blogs in your industry accepting guest posts.

Another way to find guest posting opportunities is becoming a regular commenter on those industry blogs and offer up your expertise to other commenters. The comments section can be a surprisingly great way to network.

Try a tool like Guestr to find guest blog opportunities listed by category. You can find other bloggers to post on your own site, too.

Pitch your guest blog post

Once you find blogs that accept guest posts, get to know them well. Pay attention to the content they create. When you pitch a guest post, it helps to have a fully-baked idea with a snappy title. Your idea should be super relevant to the blog you’re pitching, sliding right in alongside the existing content.

Show that you’ve done your homework by backing up your idea with the appropriate research and statistics. Don’t send a novel; get to the point quickly and effectively (bullet points help). Bonus points for tying your pitch to an of-the-moment industry trend.

If you want to learn more about guest blogging, check out Guest Blogging: A Beginner’s Guide.

3. Get social

Chances are, you already have a network of followers on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Some of those people are probably interested in what you have to say on your blog. They may even want to share your content with their own audience.

To make that happen, be proactive on social media. Read what others are posting, comment on their links and share their blog posts. When it’s time for you to share your own posts, they’ll be more likely to return the favor.

Network on Twitter

Twitter chats are another way to network on social to get more traffic to your blog. A Twitter chat is a real-time conversation that happens at a predetermined time around a particular topic using a designated hashtag. (Shameless plug: check out AWeber’s very own #emailchat!)

Anyone can participate in a Twitter chat. To get involved, find influencers and organizations hosting Twitter chats that are relevant to your blog. Don’t forget to link to your blog on your Twitter profile so people can find it!

Make it easy for people to share your blog

Finally, include social sharing links on all of your blog posts so readers can easily share your content on social. Consider including Click to Tweet links in your posts, too. These help people share the best nuggets of your expertise from your blog posts on Twitter.

4. Embrace SEO

…but don’t squeeze the life out of it. Smart use of keywords can help boost your blog in search rankings, but nothing trumps good old-fashioned useful and relevant content.

You should be aware of how people are talking about your niche, though. So if you’re writing a blog post about the latest chihuahua fashions, it’s important to know how other people are searching for that topic.

Find your blog’s keywords

Here’s one quick way to find those keywords: make a list of possible keywords, including long-tail keywords (that is, keyword phrases that include three or more words). Then, do a Google search for those keywords. Jump to the bottom of the page to check out your related searches to find other ways people are searching for content like yours.

As you can see, “chihuahua clothes” is a top contender. If your post is about the best new chihuahua fashions, you might consider using the phrase best new chihuahua clothes instead.

If you want to see which keywords are driving traffic to your blog right now, Google Analytics will tell you. You can dive even deeper with Google’s Keyword Planner to learn more about searches on specific keywords.

Use those keywords wisely

Once you’ve got your keywords, use them in your blog where it makes sense. Include them in appropriate blog post titles, subheads, the body of your post and in your post’s permalink if possible. Make sure your title and subheads are relevant to your content, and that your keywords fit naturally into the body of your post.

Whatever you do, don’t jam keywords into blog posts just for the heck of it. That’s called keyword stuffing and it can get your blog banned from Google searches.

In addition to using relevant keywords in your blog posts, don’t forget to show your meta descriptions some love by using the appropriate keywords there, too.

5. Write. A lot.

Did you know that once you have 51 blog posts, your blog traffic increases by 53 percent? And then triples once you hit 100 posts? The more useful, relevant blog posts you publish, the more traffic you get.

The length of your blog posts matters too. WordStream tripled the average time spent on their site from 1:33 to 4:35 after they started posting long-form content. Their longest blog post – 2,450 words – performed better than any other post.

Get content inspiration

Now, relax, you don’t have to write 100 blog posts that clock in at more than 2,000 words each. You’re not a machine.

Instead, use this knowledge as fuel to keep writing. Make time every day to brainstorm new ideas. Create an editorial calendar to keep track of your ideas and schedule blog posts ahead of time. Staying organized and sticking to a schedule will help take the stress out of creating new content.

Repurpose your content

If you’re just getting started with blogging and you only have a handful of posts, you can make those posts go the extra mile with email. Repurpose those posts into a welcome series for your new email subscribers. That way, you can get repeat blog visitors and get people caught up on your content at the same time. Here’s how to create a welcome campaign. As you create new blog posts, you can send them to your subscribers in weekly or monthly newsletters.

Go forth and drive traffic to your blog

Blogging is hard work. It requires time, dedication, and if you’re like me, an obscene amount of coffee. You owe it to yourself to do everything you can to promote your blog and get your content in front of the right audience.

We’ve only covered the basics of driving traffic to your blog. Try some of these tips and keep an eye on your analytics. Then, tell us about your results in the comments.