Why it’s hard to get more cattle to your blog

26 Nov

Google “increasing traffic to your blog” and you will see thousands of entries.

If you think of your readers as traffic, you are cold-hearted, flinty-eyed and likely count your money secretly when no one is looking. They – we – are  people, readers. Behave accordingly and you will see the results.

Moving on.

All those articles on moving cattle, sorry traffic, to your blog provide innumerable suggestions. I’m going to ignore them all – with the exception of Seth Godin’s memorable list here of 56 tips, which you should click on immediately.

Instead I want to offer my 3 biggest pieces of personal advice.

1. Write about interesting shit and do it in a memorable way. I tend to read blogs that deviate from the commonly held opinion. I am interested in getting to know the writer, not just get second-hand regurgitation of some blog he or she read. I avoid the ones that look for controversy for the sake of it. Or who disrespect their readers in the pursuit of virality.

2. Be a good host. As the author of a blog, you are out to enhance your reputation, not be right at all costs. So engage in interesting debate and be prepared to cede the point. It’s your blog, so you’re the host. Be gracious. I note a blog where the writer is lazy about responding to comments from people who agree with him but is like an angry wasp when someone doesn’t agree. Usually the rebuttle goes up within 60 seconds of the contradictory point of view. I don’t want to hang out with people like that. If you want people to see you as a thought leader, you should be as confident in what you believe in, as you are patient with people who don’t agree.

3. Do the time. If you’re already providing great content and being a good host, plus using blogging best practices in terms of building your readership (RSS feeds, tagging, networking, guest blogging and commenting etc.) the final thing you need to do is stick it out. Unless you’re Seth Godin, solid readership takes time. Not much fun if you don’t love writing the things!

Closing with something Jay Baer said about social media which applies beautifully to blogging: If you don’t like doing it, you suck at it.


11 Responses to “Why it’s hard to get more cattle to your blog”

  1. Victoria November 26, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Love this! Especially the quote at the end – completely agree. I’ve been blogging for (ACK!) 5 years now in various forms, and have learned heaps about myself, my readers & friends, my subjects, and how to keep at it.

    When I found myself losing interest in one of my blogs, I brought on a reader and writer who still loved the subject and now our blog is 10 times better. Advertisers are contacting us asking for our rates (huh?), which never happened before.

    Thanks for the reminders!
    Have an amazing, snow-free, weekend!

  2. dougbrowncreative November 26, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    Thank you Victoria. No doubt the best bloggers are the ones who just love to write and get that people will read what interests them. Glad to hear your blog is cranking. Why don’t you leave a link here for our readers?

  3. variedthinking November 26, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    Now that was good shit.

    I have read two of Seth’s books, believe it or not “the dip” A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (And When To Stick) and “Linchpin” Are You Indispensable. They have some value on this subject and suggest you read them.

    Those two books lead to two other books that have nothing really to do with your entry today but I thought that one or two of your viewers might like to read at a future date. I had order special from Bolen Books in the Hillside Mall. The first one was “Why Your Boss Is Programmed To Be A Dictator” by Chetan Dhruve. Very good book for employees that have an asshole for a boss, present company excluded and last but not least, “Employees First, Customers Second” by Vineet Nayar. How he reinvented the company HCL Technologies. Great reading if your the president of a company.

  4. dougbrowncreative November 26, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    Thanks for those links variedthinking. The second book summarizes my own approach to managing. When I was up at a UVIC panel earlier this year with some business owners, we were asked to summarize our management philosophy in 3 words. I recall some of the other guys using terms like “transparency”, “education”, “respect” and “accountability”. All great values to manage by. My 3 words were: “Staff come first.”

  5. designingrenee November 26, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    This is a timely entry for me to read today. I’ve had personal blogs since 1999, and while they served their purpose, writing about Me Glorious Me got pretty tired and ran out of steam (for me) about three years ago.

    As a recent graduate taking a new direction in terms of design and communication, a professional blog seems natural and appealing. I follow your blog because it’s straightforward and relevant, it doesn’t make me feel stupid, it invites me to respond, and it directs me to other places where I can explore more material. It’s a good example, and it’s been food for thought.

  6. dougbrowncreative November 26, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Thanks for the nice comments on our blog Renee. Like any business, it’s easier to give people what they’re looking for, then try to convince them that what you’re pedaling is valuable to them. I recommend Seth’s list. There’s something in the spirit of it that gives credence to his suggestions. And good luck with your new blog!

  7. variedthinking November 26, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Doug, one word would have encompassed the three words perfectly and in business dealings as with personal life I try to have it 100% of the time and that is Integrity.

  8. dougbrowncreative November 26, 2010 at 10:33 am #

    It’s definitely a critical work for a business, any business, variedthinking. But everybody claims to have it. Who would say they don’t? “We have NO integrity at our firm, which we believe is our unique competitive differentiator!”

    On the other hand, saying “Staff come first” gives your business the freedom to make choices that measure up against that. Make your staff happy and they will make your customers happy. By the way, customers are easier to find then staff. Still, “the customer is always right!” remains the single most prevalent philosophy in sales today. I think it’s nonsense myself.

    Thanks for the thought.

  9. variedthinking November 26, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    Well I’ll try to end this with the thought the multi-national I use to work for said: They had integrity but when it came down to the brass tacks they “FAILED” at it miserably.

    It is one thing to say it but doing and seeing it proves a company’s self worth. They thought less about their employees than they did about their customer. They were not looking at either, but rather the bottom line and what colour it was at the end of the year.

  10. Amy November 27, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    Yeah, that last sentence pretty much says it all. I’ve gone through alternating phases of loving and hating my blog and when I go back and read my past posts, I can tell exactly what phase I was in at the time.
    I haven’t read Seth’s tips (yet), but is there anything in there for people who finally cultivated a readership after years of blogging and freaked out? I probably need “professional” help for this issue.

  11. dougbrowncreative November 27, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    This one’s easy Amy: every writer goes through dry phases. Go get some guest bloggers!

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