Blog Problems, Solved: How to Attract (and Keep) an Audience
Since then, you’ve been churning out posts like a mad scientist of wordsmithery. You hate to brag, but you’re pretty sure each one’s better than the last.
And yet every time you hit publish… crickets. You check your blog’s analytics, but the visitor stats barely register a blip. You only had seven hits yesterday, and they were all from you anxiously refreshing the page. You check the spam filter, but there are no comments caught in the system.
It’s disappointing to pour so much into your blog only to watch it go unread and unappreciated. Fortunately, there are a few key steps you can take to begin attracting an audience — and keeping them.
Actively read (and comment) on other blogs.
You’ve likely already identified other blogs you admire. Become a regular commenter on those blogs. Be sure to use your professional name and link to your own blog in the comment profile, but any other blatant self-promotion should stop there. Try to contribute more than just “great post!” — take some time to cultivate a genuine, thoughtful response to the post topic. Check in on comment threads periodically and keep adding your voice to the discussion as needed.
Why go to all this effort? Valuable contributions will set you apart as a knowledge leader — and get you clicks back to your blog. You just may find that the authors of the blogs you first comment on will become your first readers.
It’s through regular participation in other conversations that you’ll slowly grow your own blog community. Successful blogging is all about cultivating relationships!
Link, link, link.
There are a few ways to build links on your blog:
- Link to other posts. Come across an interesting post on someone else’s blog? Link to it, and share your thoughts. If the author is keeping track of their pingbacks (a notification sent when another website links to one of their articles) he or she might visit your blog to read more. If they like what they see, they might stick around, and recommend you to others. As a rule, sending traffic to other blogs gets you traffic back to yours.
- Ask for links back. Some bloggers are in the practice of sending posts they’ve written to other bloggers in hopes they’ll link back to them on their blogs. Tread carefully, here, as others view this practice in poor taste! I could write a separate post alone on asking for links, but in short, being polite, respectful, and personal in your inquiry can go far. In my personal experience, linkbacks happen naturally if the content is good enough. If you’re unsure about asking, your best bet is to focus on creating quality content that people will want to share and link to — no questions asked.
- Build a “blogroll.” This is a list of links your favorite blogs. This list can be on a separate page on your website or in your blog’s sidebar. Why a blogroll? Never underestimate the power of recommendations. They show you’re paying attention to other good content, plus they provide a little good link karma — as I said before, traffic out generates traffic in.
Volunteer for other projects.
Sometimes bloggers, when preparing for a hiatus or simply seeking collaboration, ask for guest posts from other authors. Volunteer as much as you can under these circumstances — guest posting gets your name and blog URL out to a wider circle of readers than you’d normally reach.
Respond to your readers.
Much the same way you felt let down when no one was reading your posts, readers can feel let down when they put a lot of their time and effort into leaving thoughtful remarks, only to be ignored. Respond to reader comments and emails. This will help keep the conversation going and help readers feel respected, which is important.
You can’t simply receive from others and not give back!
Keep creating valuable content.
Just because you’ve hooked ’em doesn’t mean you can stop reeling ’em in. Yes, it’s a bad fishing analogy, but it’s apt. Keep doing what you’re doing. And if you find you have to cut back — say, a post twice a week instead of every day — to save quality, do it. You’ll lose more readers to shoddy content than to posting less frequently.
I can’t stress this enough. Rome wasn’t built in a day — similarly, you won’t attract a solid readership overnight. But these steps certainly can help speed the process a little.
Now get out there and earn some readers!