One of the hardest challenges for bloggers — especially when we’re first getting started — is figuring out how to get people to read what you write. After all, most of us aren’t blogging to talk to ourselves, right? And, if you’re running a company blog, you have to answer to the powers that be: Who’s reading the blog? Is the time spent creating content and promoting the site actually time well spent?
At BlogWorld last week, I had the opportunity to sit in on a session led by Darren Rowse (aka problogger). He offered one amazing tip after another — and the info is too good to keep to myself. So, here are my notes from Darren’s session about creating and cultivating readers for your blog.
Problogger Advice for Building Blog Readership
- Ask yourself this question: What was your blog’s biggest day of traffic? Analyze the situation. What led to the spike in traffic? How can you recreate conditions like that to help increase readership?
- Which readers do you want? The more you can learn about your target reader, the more successful you’ll be. Knowing who you want reading your content will inform your content strategy, promotion strategy, community-building strategy and your monetization strategy.
- Create reader profiles — fictional characters that represent the type of people you want to attract to your blog. Give this person a name, detail out her likes, interests and where she interacts online. Understand demographics, needs/challenges, how they use the web, motivations for reading, experience level, dreams, financial situation. Have these people in mind as you create new posts.
- Choose popular topics for your blog and posts. What will you write about in the next month? What are people reading? What search terms drive copy?
- Build something worth being found.
- Get off your blog. Build a home base with outposts around it. Where is your type of reader interacting online (even if those sites aren’t directly related to your topic)?
- Build anticipation. Give readers a reason to subscribe. For example, create series of posts.
- Start with the readers you have and love them to death. Pay particular attention to them. Show your appreciation.
- Create content events. (For example:”21 things you must know about xx” or “The most popular xx according to our readers.”) People are fascinated with what others in their niche are doing. Connect with seasonal events. Darren explained that his photography blog has a post about how to photograph a Christmas party, which remains a popular post year after year. Give people ideas that they can go implement.
- Use familiar technologies for subscribing. 73% of his photography blog subscribe via email. We know what that RSS icon means, but people outside the tech space may not have the same understanding.
- Be persistent. Building a successful blog requires a long-term approach. Keep in mind that the first 1,000 subscribers are the hardest.
Darren also offered a list of techniques to help increase readership, such as:
- Guest posting
- Social media
- YouTube videos
- Forums – don’t spam. Think of a place to write guest posts. Add real content. Still works.
- Pitch other bloggers
- Leverage other online & offline presence
- Participate in memes and projects of others
- Blogging/web communities
- Competitions and awards
- Speaking at events and workshops online& offline
- Blog alliance
- Incentivize subscriptions
- Interview someone
- Be interviewed
- Comment on other blogs
- Comment on readers blogs
- Promote posts or landing pages — not just your blog
- Advertise (e.g., StumbleUpon, Facebook)
What advice would you offer to people trying to grow their blog readership?
Photo credit: koka_sexton