How To Get More Readers to Your Blog – And Keep Them
Last month, I looked at how to make your blog look professional but, as every store owner knows, getting the customers in is less than half the battle: keeping them is the real struggle.
If a good looking, well written blog sets the platform for impressing first time readers, how do you engage them? And how do you grow your audience?
If you’ve become a blogger just for followers, fame, fortune and freebies, you’ve started with the wrong mindset.
Blogging can be hard work and it takes graft to succeed, but it should also be your passion. Write about what you love, what you’re interested in, what you can’t shut up about. It makes the writing easy for you and, for readers, it’s obvious that your content is something different and personal in a very full market.
It also means that, if your book deal never happens, you won’t regret the time you invested in your blog; you’ll have a wonderful record of your passion.
The readers you have on any day are the most important people to your blog. So, as a new blogger, always try to spark up conversation with and among your readers. For starters, it’s a nice feeling to know there’s someone out there. More importantly, they can bring your blog to life, stimulate your thoughts, and spread your word to their own social circles.
After each post, ask your readers a question they can get involved with. Ask about their experiences, opinions or stories. Set up an environment where readers are talking to each other and can start to feel a sense of community interacting with you and your content. Get involved and keep the conversation going, sharing links to other of your posts that are relevant – and make sure to answer any questions put directly to you.
There is a delicate balance to responding though. As your blog grows, you don’t want to have set an expectation that you will reply to every comment. All the time you’re below the line is time you’re not creating new content, engaging on other channels or, shocker, living your life to give you more juicy content to blog about.
It’s also important to build good quality backlinks pointing to to your blog to help people find you through other websites and through Google so make sure you share your content on other sites by guest blogging for example.
You’re writing about what you love and you know your readers and what they like, but that doesn’t stop the inevitable writer’s block or idea drought. At times like this, it can be tempting to just publish anything you pull from the tired depths of your brain: don’t.
Your readers come to you because you’re different — so keep challenging yourself. Look at the discussions on your previous posts: could they spark a follow-up post or greater reaction piece? What’s being discussed in your network: what are the questions, topics, products or trends that aren’t getting the coverage you want? What unique perspective can you add to trending topics, whether it’s a personal story or a fresh opinion?
Use search to find stories that inspire, support or contradict you. Once you’ve written your piece, head back to those articles and comment to share your response and a link back to your blog. A lot of bloggers pick up readers from comments on other blogs, but no-one is going to be tempted by a generic “Great post, thx, read my blog” response.
- Use and Take Great Pictures
With the production level of many blogs and the enormous rise of image-based social media, good photos are a must now. Not only do they make your blog look fantastic but they also give you great content for your own Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
If you’re taking your own photos, which is essential for a credible beauty, lifestyle or review blog, invest in good equipment and learn how to use it. If you’re inexperienced, search for a good DSLR for beginners or buy an advanced point-and-shoot camera; ideally, you’re looking for something that can give you good control over the image and take fast, well focused photos whether you’re shooting products close-up or taking beautiful scenery shots of your latest travel adventures.
Depending on your subject matter, you’ll also need a few quality accessories — and everyone should invest in a tripod for studio style shots. With the seasonal discounts coming in soon, I’d suggest looking at lists for gifts for photographers to identify the gadgets and accessories that will suit your blog and get a good deal.
If you’re not taking your own photos, do invest time in finding original photography that matches the tone and style of your blog. I’m a big fan of Flickr, where lots of photos are available for re-use, as well as Visual Hunt and Stock Snap for finding royalty free photos pre-approved for all kinds of uses.
- Have a Professional Design
Having a blog layout that looks professional and a logo design that makes you stand out and be remembered are both big parts of a successful blog. There are many lovely looking free templates to use for your blog but you need a logo too. If you don’t have the skills to design one yourself or don’t want to pay the costly fees of a graphic designer, you can use a logo designing service like Logojoy that lets you design a professional logo for your blog online in minutes. You can do it from the comfort of your own home and customise it to your taste until your completely happy. All this for a lot less than a designer would cost!
Your headlines are what suck readers into your posts and how you’ll most likely be discovered from search. There are two kinds of headlines that work: descriptive or clever.
Descriptive headlines tell the reader exactly what they’re getting. They may not be the most riveting but they more closely mirror how people search — and how you might attract new readers. For example, “Jungle Jam Book Review” tells my readers exactly what the post is about and is also one of the top result on Google for anyone searching for “Jungle Jam book review”.
Clever headlines are more about enticing readers into a wider range of your posts. These can be tough to write and I always advise writing them very quickly first, to give you a shape to respond to, and then rewrite them last, spending the time to make them as hooky as possible. Look for the best lines or most interesting points in your post and see how you could rewrite that as a pithy statement, interesting question or a list-style headline.
This is a Guest Post. Contains a sponsored link.