Are you looking to grow your audience? Here are ten tips to get you closer to your goal.
One of the most frequent questions bloggers ask us — and themselves — is how to get more readers. In this post I wrote a year ago, I went over some of the basic things you should consider when trying to grow your audience. While there’s no secret magic formula (do share if you’ve found one!), I hope it gives you some fresh ideas to try out. And, if you’re looking for a more in-depth look at traffic and growth, you’re in luck: we have a free ebook devoted exclusively to that topic.
One of the main reasons bloggers stop blogging is lack of traffic: at some point, they get tired of being the proverbial tree in the forest, making sounds nobody hears.
We’re here to help. No list of advice can guarantee your blog’s success, but it’s important to be aware of the most critical elements at play. Five dos, five don’ts: give them a try.
- Write regularly. Producing fresh content on a regular basis is essential. First, it makes your blog more appealing to search engines, which means new readers are more likely to find you. Just as important, it creates a sense of loyalty among the readers you already have, who know you won’t be stranding them for weeks at a time.
- Write well. What makes a post engaging, moving, or entertaining is clearly a matter of opinion. What’s not a matter of opinion? Correct spelling. Reasonable grammar. Sentences and paragraphs of manageable length. Go over your post, spellcheck, and edit — above all — for clarity. (A strong title never hurts, either.)
- Keep your blog easy on the eyes. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, unattractive blogs are surprisingly easy to spot. Some minimal care can pay great dividends, even if you don’t have time to think of every possible detail. Choose a theme that suits your needs and your content. Make your homepage attractive with striking images or easy customizations, and make sure your content is easy to read.
- Use your existing network. As a beginning blogger, you should rely on friends and family to visit your blog and share your posts on their own social networks (use common sense to decide how often and how insistently you ask them). Keep them informed by publicizing your posts, and keep them interested by addressing, at least at first, topics you know they’ll enjoy.
- Create new networks. The blogging community is immense. The best way to find your own niche within it is through meaningful reciprocity. Follow and leave thoughtful comments on others’ blogs, and take the time to respond to feedback left on your own site. Use widgets to make it easy to follow and syndicate your own blog. Participate in events, or attend a blogging conference to make new friends and learn new tips.
- Don’t forget to tag. Unless you’re already a famous entity offline, readers won’t search specifically for your blog. That’s why smart tagging is so important: add a healthy mix of general and specific terms related to your post, and your potential audience will find you, either through search engines or on the WordPress.com Reader.
- Don’t spam. Community members and search engines alike are quite savvy in telling thoughtful content from fluff. One-word comments? A blog full of pingbacks and reblogs with very little original content? There is no surer method of pushing your audience away, even if your intentions are good.
- Don’t be afraid of the Publish button. The only post guaranteed to attract zero traffic is an unpublished one. Don’t worry too much about posts that ended up different from your initial vision. At worst, you can edit and update them later. At best, their shortcomings, if any, can be part of the conversation you start with your readers. Either way, what could you possibly lose?
- Don’t stop reading. Writing that exists in a vacuum will be less appealing to readers who don’t already know you. Whether it’s a new bestseller, other blogs and sites around the web, or the great content we feature daily on Freshly Pressed, staying part of existing conversations keeps your content relevant, and will engage a wider audience than an entirely impenetrable musing.
- Don’t lose sight of why you blog. Even if you’re doing everything right, it might still take a while before your blog gains traction. It’s a good idea to remind yourself why you decided to start a blog to begin with. Whether it’s to express your opinions, record memories, or any other reason, you’re the most important member of your audience, and should enjoy the experience. Fun tends to be contagious: a writer who enjoys blogging regardless of traffic is, paradoxically, more likely to attract it.