When I first starting blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. In my mind, a blog was like that line from that Kevin Costner movie: “If you build it, they will come.”
Well, I built it, and honey, let me tell you: they did not come. I put up a post and waited. And made pie. And checked my blog stats to see how many people came to visit until finally, a system error message popped up on the screen: “Nobody came, and stop checking because you’re overloading our system.”
What was I doing wrong? Didn’t people realize how spectacular my blog was? Didn’t they want my expertise despite the fact that I wasn’t an expert in anything (and despite the fact that they didn’t know me from Adam or Adam’s cat)? What was the deal?
Well, fast forward a couple years and I’m finally starting to “get” what a blog is supposed to do and how to maximize it. A blog is supposed to –get ready for this—share content.
Quanie, dude, everybody knows that! Why don’t you tell us something we don’t know!
Well, did you know that most bloggers quit blogging because they build it, and nobody comes?
Did you also know that most posts don’t get clicks, not because of poor content, but because the title of the post doesn’t grab people’s attention and therefore doesn’t prompt people to share it?
Did you realize that your blog boils down to you, the blogger, being the brand?
Well, Ms. Smarty Pants, if you have all the answers, then why don’t you share them?
Dude. If you insist.
- This might seem like a no-brainer but ask yourself: who is the audience for your blog and what types of things are they interested in? For example, I’m a writer, and so are most of the lovely folks who visit my blog. As a result of that, I write about all things writerly: the process of writing a novel, marketing, publishing, etc.
- Be relevant! Find out what’s going on in your industry and blog about it. You can do this by subscribing to other authors’ blogs or following them on Facebook and Twitter to see what others are talking about. Then write about those issues and give your own two cents. For instance, I just ran across a Goodreads thread titled, “Are Indie Authors Really Authors?” Is that conversation worthy or what?
- Does the title of your blog post catch people’s attention? Does it give folks the retweet fever? Example: you’ve just written a brilliant post and you’ve titled it, “Marketing for authors.” Snooze fest! Better: “8 marketing tips for the cash-strapped author.” You’ve written another post and you’ve titled it, “The importance of encouragement.” Better: “How a shady donut vendor helped me to finish my novel.” And after someone clicks on the link to read the article, the content should be so engaging that people want to share it.
- What makes people want to share a post? Not only the content, but also, you! Remember: when you blog your personality should shine through, so ask yourself: what’s the “voice” of your blog? Are you inspiring? Funny? Insightful? Snarky?
- Share the love. Yes, this means visiting other blogs and leaving meaningful comments. Not just “Great post, dude!” It helps if you actually read the post and say something insightful or funny enough to make the blogger and their commenters interested enough in you so that they want to find out who you are. It’s likely that they’ll visit your blog and leave a comment. Do this enough times with any particular blogger and bam: a friendship made in blogger heaven.
- Be visible. How can people visit a blog that they don’t know exists? There are many places where you can promote your posts: Twitter (by using hashtags like #amwriting, #MondayBlogs, or #wwwblogs. In fact, blogger Paula Reed recently wrote a blog post called “Using Twitter Hashtags to Grow your Blog Traffic. It’s very helpful. You should definitely check it out.), Shewrites, Insecure Writers Support Group, Google+, Goodreads groups for writers, Facebook. Remember: your goal is to connect, not spam people from here to eternity. There’s no better way to get unfollowed than to keep hollering out, “Buy my book!” Your goal should be to connect, engage, and build relationships. Otherwise, what’s the point?
This should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway: your blog should also be easy to read and navigate. If people have to squint to read your posts or scroll for eternity to get to your content, it doesn’t matter if your posts are Nobel Prize worthy. It’s likely that people won’t stay long enough to see what you have to say.
Having a blog is a great way for any author to build their platform but it definitely takes time to build. It’s not always easy but if you stick with it, you’ll eventually see some growth. What about others? What things are you doing to grow your blog or increase your blog traffic? What do you find works best or doesn’t work at all? What’s the thing you wish you knew at the very beginning of your blogging journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
And Happy Thanksgiving Week to All! 🙂