It’s been a week of milestones for my little blog. Firstly, I passed the 30,000 views mark. For a blog that’s been going less than two years, where I post on average once a week, I’m both thrilled and humbled by this achievement.
The second milestone is that this is my 200th post. It has been quite a ride since I first posted about a cat that defecates in my garden and I’ve learnt an awful lot along the way. My blog has changed from being a platform for me to play around with writing to a blog about writing, and specifically self-publishing. During my blogging time I’ve published two books, met many wonderful people, been introduced to the wonderfully supportive writing community, as well as discovered some fantastic books by new and exciting authors.
Thank you to all of you who read, comment and share my posts. You are a wonderful group of people and it’s a pleasure knowing you.
In order to celebrate these milestones, I thought I’d pass on my top 10 tips on building a blogging audience. Of course, if your blog is very personal, building an audience may not be your goal, so many of these won’t apply, but if you are looking to increase your readership then these tips are a good place to start.
1. Post regularly
The more regularly you post, the more likely people will find you and follow you. I see a significant drop in my weekly visitor averages if I post less than once a week. If I post more than once a week those averages not only rise, but grow week on week. It’s hard work (which is why I usually write just one post per week) but the response is worth it.
2. Have a purpose
When I first started blogging it was purely as a medium to play around with writing. I wrote about all sorts of things, some of which people found interesting, others that were barely read at all. However, as my blogging became more about one subject – writing and self-publishing – I found an audience – you! That doesn’t mean I post solely about writing and self-publishing, but the majority of my posts are in this area.
3. Keep posts to under 1000 words
This is a great rule of thumb. It doesn’t mean every post should be under this limit, but the shorter the post, the more likely it will be read to the end.
4. Don’t think what you would like to write but what you would like to read
This is based on a lesson I learnt while writing fiction. During the first draft, an author will often include lots of back story and explanation. It’s an important part of the writing process and enjoyable to write, but it’s as dull as hell to read and often gets culled during the editing process. Just because something is fun to write, doesn’t make it interesting to read. Make sure your posts offer your readers something, whether it’s knowledge, insight or a different perspective.
5. Interact with your readership
Except for my Recommended Reads, I always end my posts with a question (there’ll be one at the end of this post too). Sometimes this can be ignored but often it starts a debate which generates further interest in the subject. If somebody is kind enough to comment on your blog, answer them, promptly if possible. I’ve met many of my favourite bloggers and writers this way, as we discuss the topics raised, but even if it’s just a plain ‘thank you,’ it will mean a lot and encourage them to visit again.
6. Be yourself
The best blogs develop a little community of regular readers, based on a shared view, love or experience. The only way you can do this is by being yourself. That doesn’t mean you can’t exaggerate or suppress aspects of your personality as you write, but to be effective there has to be a core part of you within your blogging.
7. Don’t be afraid to be opinionated
I’m not suggesting that every post should be deliberately provocative, but people like a good argument. If you have an opinion on a subject, give it. You will never be able to please everybody with what you write so don’t try to. Rather than avoid subjects or opinions you feel could be controversial, embrace them. Sure, this may turn off some readers but at the same time you will get to find your audience.
8. Be gracious when people disagree with you
If you are going to give your opinion, expect people to disagree with you. When this happens, read what they have to say and see if it makes sense to you. If it does, then don’t be afraid to concede the point. If it doesn’t, be gracious in your reply. Some of my favourite readers disagree with me often. Occasionally they have a point. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
9. Use social media to promote your blog
The WordPress reader is a lovely tool to discover new blogs but it has a limited audience. It was only when I started to actively promote my blog via twitter that my numbers began to grow. WordPress have a great system called Publicize, where you can link your blog to social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) and each time you post it is shared on the social media platform of your choice. Using the right tags and hashtags also helps to promote your blog outside your existing audience.
10. When in doubt, use a list
Can you see what I did there? There’s nothing better than a large block of text to turn readers off. Instead, structure it into a way that’s easy to digest. By far my most popular posts are structured around lists. This is no coincidence. With lists, people are able to quickly discover the gist of the post and decide whether to read further or not.
So, these are my top 10 tips, but what are yours? I’d love to hear from you.
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