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5 Tips for Bringing More Readers to Your Blog

| Posted in Blogging |

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Boost Your Blog ReadershipI stumbled into the #fantasychat on Twitter the other day, and the topic was “How to get more readers to your blog.”

Whether you’re an author, hoping to attract folks who might buy your books, or you’re just trying to get more people to read your posts, it’s satisfying to see one’s traffic increase from month to month. It’s nice, too, when people leave comments and you get to have conversations with someone other than yourself. (Not that self-conversing isn’t fun, but, ya know.)

Since it’s hard to impart much wisdom in 140 characters or less on Twitter, I figured a blog post was in order. So, without further rambling, I give you…

5 Tips for Bringing More Readers to Your Blog

Apply basic search engine optimization to your posts

You don’t have to become an SEO expert, but using keywords in the title and building links to your site can go a long ways in increasing the number of visitors you receive from Yahoo, Google, etc.

Thanks to Twitter, I see quite a few blog post titles, and many of them are useless insofar as attracting search engine visitors (honestly, they’re pretty useless for attracting clicks via Twitter too). This is because they don’t tell me what the post is about. “Coming soon…” or “Some Interesting Updates” doesn’t inspire me to click unless I know you already (maybe not even then!).

If you do nothing else, help yourself by making sure your post titles make it clear what the entries are about.

Don’t just write about yourself and your books

This one is for my author buddies. If you want to increase your blog readership, posting excerpts and reviews of your books probably isn’t going to do it. Likewise, posts about your life aren’t going to interest many folks unless you have a Dave-Barry-esque knack for making the mundane entertaining. Sure, when you’re a celebrity, you can blog about yourself and nothing but yourself and people will read about it, but we have to get to celebrity status first. How? By writing about things people find informative and/or entertaining.

If you’re an indie science fiction author, for example, you might review popular books in the genre or blog about the latest SF movies or television series. Think about what your target audience might be out there Googling and consider writing some posts that would answer those queries.

(I’m not a good example of this, by the way; I’m more interested in writing about e-publishing and book promotion than my chosen novel genre. W. Brondt Kamffer is an indie fantasy author who does a nice job blogging for his target audience.)

**I don’t want to give you the idea that you should never write about yourself or your books (sometimes when it’s all interviews and reviews your voice gets lost and it feels like we could be reading newspaper articles where it doesn’t matter who the journalist is), just that it’s wise to find a balance. A little personal information here and a little interesting-to-your-target-audience-stuff there.

Leave comments on other people’s blogs

I’m not as good at doing this as some folks are — it’s a time consuming promotion method, and I find myself short of time lately! — but this can be a good way to bring in new visitors, especially when you’re just starting out and don’t get much search engine traffic yet.

If you leave useful comments on blogs where your target audience hangs out, people might be interested enough to click on your name and follow it to your site. The owner of the blog, too, might reciprocate and come comment on your site (this is most likely when you’re visiting other new-ish blogs — understandably, bloggers who get 25-50+ comments per post are less likely to have time for this).

Sneaky tip:

If you can be an early commenter on a new post on a popular blog, your words will be seen by a lot of people and you’ll be more likely to get visitors. I had that happen on a JA Konrath post once (he often gets 100+ comments). I only check his blog a couple of times a month, so it was just chance that I got a comment in early, but I included a link to my site at the bottom and quite a few people surfed over to check out my blog (note: not all bloggers will approve comments with self-promotional links in them, so see what the trend is before assuming you can do this).

Use Twitter, Facebook, etc. to bring visitors to your blog

I don’t think the social media sites are particularly good for selling books, so you won’t often see me tweet sales links (if anything, I’ll usually send folks to an excerpt on my site or to Smashwords to download a freebie). I do, however, announce my new blog posts on Twitter, and this brings quite a bit of traffic, especially when something catches a few eyes and gets “retweeted.”

I’m not big into Facebook, but I do have a few blog followers via their “Networked Blogs” feature, so you may want to look into signing up for that (among other things, it automatically announces your blog posts on your Facebook page).

As you might guess, you’ll get more mileage out of the social media sites if you’re active on there and work to get some followers. Unless you have lots of free time, consider focusing on one to build up network rather than trying to spread yourself (possibly ineffectually) across them all.

Try to turn one-off visitors into regulars

Okay, last tip. While it’s great to drive lots of new visitors to your site, it’s even better to convert those one-time visitors into regular readers.

One way is to encourage folks to sign up for your RSS feed. (This is on my to-do list as my current link is not prominently displayed.) If visitors track a lot of blogs, they probably use Google Reader or another service to check all the new headlines at once. If they add yours, it’ll be easy for them to see when you’ve posted something interesting.

Another good thing to add, especially if you’re an author and you’re hoping to get readers to buy your books, is a newsletter. This lets you send notes straight to people’s inbox where they’re much more likely to notice you than if your blog is 1 of 200 hanging out in their feed reader. You can give people the option of signing up to receive each of your new blog posts in their inbox, or you can have them sign up for a mailing list where you can send them personalized messages now and then.

All right, those are my five tips. Do you have any you’d like to suggest?

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Comments (20)

I find Twitter is really helpful to getting the word out. Facebook doesn’t seem to be doing much for me, but I’ve just added the Networked Blogs app, so we’ll see how that goes. Starting a newsletter is next on the agenda…

Thanks for the tips!

Interesting post. I’m going to check out what else you have blogged about this. Found this on twitter in case you were wondering…

cc-james.tumblr.com

Thanks Lindsay – definately a bad defender when it comes to my blog titles.

http://freyamorris.blogspot.com/ – my latest one was “You can’t write? Really…?” – that’s a bad search engine title isn’t it?

Nevermind, I’m definately looking into branching out on my posts and you gave me a great idea to do a post on some anime children films I love, which will fit great for my audience. Thanks!

Participate in blogfests! I think they are excellent ways to connect with people who want to connect with you.

Great post!

Wow! Thanks for the plug, Lindsay!

People have all sorts of opinions about social sites, and I think that I could utilize Twitter much more effectively if I didn’t hate it so much. It’s that whole 140 words thing, you know, and the feeling that nothing you say is meaningful at all.

But as a means to drive people to one’s blog, I think that is something I could do a better job of, and something that wouldn’t be so distasteful either.

Finally, I think the advice to author bloggers to not talk about themselves is aces, and I would go further to say that authors should be careful about writing about writing as well, unless you have something really new and worthwhile adding to the conversation. There are simply too many blogs by authors for authors out there, and while I understand that we want to write about something we know, we don’t always realize that we know a lot of stuff related to our genres that we could blog about instead–which was ultimately the idea behind making my website a literary study of the fantasy genre.

Anyhow, thanks again for the plug, and, as always, an insightful post with much to ponder.

My tip – turn off word verification, and even worse, moderation by blog owner. Don’t treat people kind enough to comment with suspicion.

I don’t know about WordPress, but with Blogger, as long as you don’t allow anonymous comments, spam is invariably caught – so what is there to worry about?

Nice post!

I think I need a lot more hours in the day to promote my own blog to people. I’m really terrible at it.

GraceKrispy

Some good advice here!

Here’s one I’d add – [i]guest blog[/i] so as to ride the coat-tails of more established bloggers.

In my case, I promoted my video games/books/”fun stuff” blog by writing a piece for another blogger who specialises in similar video game niches to myself. It was easier for me, I think, because (A) I’d already written in with emails/comments, so I was a known reader rather than a random stranger, and (B) the blogger in question was looking for guest posts to keep the lights on while he was on holiday. Still, if you have an idea for a good guest post, it’s definitely worth pitching it to your peers!

Regarding Twitter, I had the same problem as Brondt at first – how on earth could I say anything of value in 140 characters? The solution I found was to use Twitter to offer a “curated” service – I read a ton of news, op-eds, research papers, etc, so I thought, why not cherry-pick one gem every day (or every few days) to share with the world? Links, and a short blurb, _do_ fit into 140 characters! You can see my approach at @PeterSahui (see, I’m practicing Lindsay’s Rule #3!).

Unfortunately, I still need to find the right Twitter “format” for my other account…

(Also, oops, my attempt at italics in the above comment didn’t quite work.)

@Lexi – wordpress has great spam protection, and would agree totally about turning off the moderation and trusting readers.

Reader interaction is what distinguishes a blog from an article on a website. If comments are being moderated you cannot help but wonder if only positive comments are being published. It doesn’t inspire confidence in the blogger, and stifles debate.

@Brondt – having a theme is definitely advisable, and when starting out sticking to your prefered genre is a good idea. If an author, prove yourself as a good blog writer by first appealing to your book audience.

As Lindsay shows, once you’re up and running you can afford to be much more wide ranging, within the general theme of books and writing.

Ultimately, treat your blog as an ambassador for yourself and (if an author) your books.

Hard sell will get you nowhere.

A blog that is informative and entertaining will have readers coming back for more. They might even buy your books. But don’t make that the reason you blog.

@Jacquelyn My to-do list is long too. Maybe in a few more years, I’ll have it all done….

@CC Thanks for the comments on my blog posts and for surfing in from Twitter!

@Freya Haha, it might be a little ambiguous. People only get the title and maybe a sentence or two when they see your site (listed next to ten others) in the search engine results, so it’s definitely useful if you can show them they’ve found the *right* site with an unambiguous title.

@Laura Thanks for the tip. Do you know of any sites for finding blogfests by subject or some such? The ones I’ve seen have been kind of goofy. Not that that can’t be fun sometimes….

@Brondt You’re welcome! I agree about there already being a bazillion “writing tips” blogs. It’s hard to stand out, and, for my money, I’d rather read Stephen King’s writing book and take advice from someone who’s really walked the walk!

@Lexi Yes, I hate those word verification deals. I can see holding a comment for moderation if there are links embedded in it, but the spam-sorters are pretty effective these days, and you can always delete a comment later if a booger slips through.

@GraceKrispy Me too! 🙂 Writing is much more fun than promoting for most of us.

@Peter Guest posting is a great idea, especially if you can snag a spot on a more popular blog! Regarding Twitter, it’s kind of interesting how much you can get to know folks on there with those short posts. I’ve gone back and forth with people, especially late at night, and it’s been like any other chat program.

@Mark Thanks for the comments! Your note on moderated comments reminds me of one of my other pet peeves: blogs that don’t allow people to comment at all. I’m not the most social person, but I find that I just don’t go back to sites like that. I want the option to say my piece. 😉

I’m on FB, but I don’t use it for much of anything but to announce my new blog posts.

Blogs take time to build. Be patient. Be yourself. Offer something no one else does. Be generous. Be professional. No matter how others comment, etc …, always be positive.

If you take the time to comment on x amount of blogs per day, you can cultivate some good traffic. I spend about an hour 4x a week commenting.

Blogfests are another way to grow. Blogs are time consuming [the biggest time suc in the social network sphere], but are worth it. Other writers are generous and I learn as much from my blog friends as if I attend several workshops a week. Plus, we get to practice our writing skills. So, I consider blogging worth the time.

I like Twitter a lot. Not time consuming. And I’ve met lots of great folks on Twitter. Like you. 😀 I think I first bumped into you on Twitter.

Great post! Twitter is amazing, and a good way to find the things you have in common with others without taking tons of time to do it. The trick is to find a balance between my promoting and my writing – I think I’m becoming a Twitter addict!

Nancy
Chick Dick Mysteries

I don’t know why, but reading this post felt like you might have been inspired to write this after looking at my blog. 😛

I wouldn’t be offended if that were true. I’ve been looking at mine for the last month and wondering if I should even bother trying to make it better right now.

I mean, it’s a real mess.

@Mary Yup, a blog definitely takes time to grow. It’s a bit like selling those ebooks. Takes time to build up a readership and get to the point where people (not related to) are recommending your work. *g*

@Nancy Yes, I’ve definitely been known to get distracted by Twitter and other internet dalliances…. 😉

@TL I didn’t have any specific blogs in mind. Really! Some writers find it useful to have a personal journal kind of blog and then a separate “professional author” blog once they’ve been published and have something they’re hoping to sell.

I guess the journal is what I would call my blog. That actually gives me an idea for an alteration. Thanks!

I like the sound of a professional author page too. Once I get my book on the market I will have to set that up.

I honestly think I would still be completely lost if not for your blog.

It was really surprising to see such a wonderful post that is inspiring and informative. These 5 Tips on Bringing More Readers to Your Blog is very helpful for us beginners.

Thank you for sharing this post! All the best!

Good post. These suggestions are things I’ve known about for a while but been reluctant – or rather lazy – about putting into practice. Thanks for the reminders! I’m off to apply what I learned now.

Wow – I had no idea this could be so complicated!Thank you so much for your tips in this blog.

I come from a different generation. I grew up with black and white TV and 2 channels! But for years, my friends and colleagues suggested that I write a book about my life’s musings.

I’m over 50, divorced – once devastated about it with no job – and now I’m having the time of my life! Feel free to visit my site at http://www.inedacareer.com. Thoughts and suggestions are most welcome.

Lindsay,

Your 5 Tips on Bringing More Readers to Your Blog has been so helpful. Instead of being daunted by it all, I now can’t wait to start.
I started a blog a week ago & so far I’ve had 107 pageviews but no comments. So, I’ll be implementing your tips, especially in preparation for the release of my own paranormal novel as an e-book on Amazon sometime in August 2012.

Tima

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