Do you put the WELCOME mat out? The biggest challenge for any blog is growth. It is as true for the person creating their first blog post as it is for the seasoned veteran of the art. The big question is how to find new readers?
Find New Readers
According to ProBlogger: “the ‘secret’ is to keep your blog promotion efforts more OFF your blog on readers that you’re yet to connect with rather than those that area already loyal” That sounds simple to say, but harder to practice. Consider, the people who generally respond to your Facebook posts are those that already read your blog. They already share your social posts and read your stories. Yet, unless you make concerted efforts to get yourself out there your subscriber count will remain low and grow only slowly.
From personal experience there are six principal ways to appeal to new people:
- It takes time, perseverance, and patience.
- Commenting on other people’s material.
- Writing guest posts for others.
- Networking, when you are out and about, tell people about your blog.
- Social Media – telling people on-line about your blog.
- Working with your regular readers.
- Advertising – If you have the budget that can jump-start readership.
Time, Perseverance, and Patience
Few writers, if any, are able to create a viral post and have it read by millions. To have a post read by tens of thousands of people, is more often by luck than planning. The trouble with viral posts is that readers forget you as quickly as they find you.
Serious bloggers, need to spend time dedicated to growing their readership. When you have a single blog post on your site you are only going to appeal to a limited number of people. The first couple of posts on this site were more experimental than serious, although I still like the one on colourful writing. I was fortunate to have a ready audience when I started this blog, which was not the case for earlier writing projects.
It is possible to create a ‘perfect post’, yet have nobody read it. Quality does not decide the number of readers. Readership is more likely to demonstrate the reach, and engagement, of your network. For the first blog that I created, getting ten readers in a week was a major achievement, and took a lot of effort. Building readership takes patience and a lot for effort. The biggest challenge is always how to find new readers.
Once you have published a few articles then having a regular readership is essential. The desire: to have the people who have already read your last article read the next one you publish. You need them to subscribe to your posts.
Regular readers are those who come back time and again to see what you have to say. To have regular readers it is clear that you must publish regularly. It is my goal to publish a minimum of one post per week. Doing so means people come back each week to look at the latest article. I write every day, but not only for this blog, for another blog and for clients (along with some editing work). There are also ideas I start, then leave for another day to complete.
If you write a monthly contribution then your repeat readers will come once a month. Write once a day, they will read each day. Ultimately regular readers are the backbone of your blog. The words of Anatole France above say a lot.
Growing your Blog
Every time you have reached a specific level of readers you need to target improvement. Can your blog reach out and give your readers a personal hug? You need to make readers feel comfortable, a place they can call home in some small way. You always have to ask yourself what is the next step to take? Perhaps it is:
- Someone reading my article the day I publish it.
- One reader per day.
- Ten readers a day.
- One NEW reader per day.
- 15 reads per week.
- 30 reads per week.
- 100 reads per week.
- 100 readers per month.
- 500 readers per month.
- 1,000 readers per month.
All are valid goals It is important that you have a goal. If you have a goal you can focus on how you will get readers. The first aim for any blogger must be to become visible on search results. Google rarely takes any notice of you till you have 50 posts published. Social media channels are always a good place to start showcasing your work.
Commenting on Other Sites
Write a comment on another person’s blog and it can aid your own readership, provided:
- You are logged in using WordPress, Disqus, or Gravatar.
- Your setting includes a link to your own blog.
- The comment you make adds value to the article (please don’t comment for the sake of it).
The logic behind commenting on other people’s site is to show that you have an interest in what they have to say. Often they will reciprocate, perhaps not by leaving a comment, but by reading your work.
Provide regular comments and the owners will look upon you as an ally in their efforts, especially if you also promote their work on social media.
Writing Guest Posts
If you like a particular site and you think you could make an occasional contribution through a specially crafted article then you should approach the site owner and ask whether they accept submissions or guest posts. Most sites do, but some prefer not to. Write something that is pertinent to their readers, perhaps offering a new viewpoint on a popular subject.
When you write for another site the aim is to expose your writing to a new audience, extend you reach a little. Agree with the site owner a way that you can promote your own site as well as offering their readership value. If you do write a guest post it is preferably for a site that has more readers than you do. Write about one of your speciality areas, but what you write is intended to help gain access to a new audience. Ask to write again if the post is popular.
Telling Others about your Site
Don’t overestimate the power of the spoken word in telling others about your blog. Is it on your business card? Should it be? Most bloggers are very entrepreneurial, even if they work a full-time job. Mention your site when it is appropriate to do so, but don’t make it the only thing you talk about.
Remember that social media is also a great way to tell others about what you are working on. Tell your professional network about your stories and how they help. Talk to people about the problems they are facing, it will give both opportunities to learn and to teach.
Working with Regular Readers
Many of my regular readers are writers that I know and we do stay in contact with each others. I admit that I do need to do more to reach out to my regular readers and find out where I can help them further.
The other aspect of this is that readers leave comments, do you read and respond to those comments? Sometimes a comment is the starting point for a new piece, as it opens up a new avenue of thought. When this is so, you should recognise the contribution that reader has made, perhaps even contact them for their view before you publish the material.
I am never convinced of the value of advertising web sites. Personally I have never advertised any website that I have owned. Clients have asked me to advertise their site and it is necessary to say the results have been very mixed. The campaigns you expect to do well flop and the campaigns you have little hope for do well. It is all about spending money wisely.
Related posts Include:
- Business Blog: Online Presence & Need for Visibility?
- Spreading the Word: Who is Sharing your Work?
- Writing on Different Topics in Different Places
- Web Explored: Get Out There & Other Stories
- Truck Driving and Writing: A Perfectly Imperfect Union
Buy Peter B. Giblett a coffee as a “Thank You” for considering the subject of growing your blog. The images included here are from royalty free public domain sites, like Pixabay.