Tag Archives: increasing blog readership

5 – er, make that 4 – essential ways to increase your blog’s popularity

25 Oct

Zombie hand with four fingers

There are about a billion posts out there giving blogging tips, so why bother reading this one?

The zombie hand of course. Beyond that, we’ve written nearly 700 posts in 3 years and have seen our blog not only bring us major new business, but been nominated for a West Coast Social Media Award and been runner-up in the US-based Fuel Lines Blog of the Year poll.

That’s our credentials anyway. Now onto your blog and how to boost readership. Here are 4 keys to building on your own successes.

1. Focus on your audience. Once you’ve defined to whom you are writing and have that fixed as a mental image in your mind, it’s simply of matter of speaking to them through your content and language. For example, when writing a post for potential new businesses, never make the assumption that they have the same level of experience in the bowels of your industry. Don’t just write about what’s important to you; write about what matters to them. “You” is still the most powerful word in sales.

2. Write about the stuff you’re crazy about. If you’re into wombats or zombies, find a relevant way to introduce this area of interest into your content. You personalize your posts when you do this, bringing your personality to the writing, which distinguishes your blog.

More importantly, you engage yourself, which becomes more important the more of the damn things you write! I might suggest to someone at Copeland that they write about the value of brainstorming, but I shouldn’t expect too many woohoos in response. But if I suggest they write about the value of brainstorming to survive a zombie apocalypse, different story.

3. Communicate the complex simply. Everything seems complicated at the moment. Technology that seems straightforward to you may baffle your readers. You need to distill the complexity, not just in terms of the language you use, but in the visual look of your post. If you can achieve that, you will have communicated that you are straightforward and easy to deal with as well.

This is where editing is key. Write your post. Let it sit for a few hours. Then revisit it with the intention of shortening it by 25%. Reduce the length of the longer paragraphs and eliminate the waffle. You get to the nub much faster this way, which respects your readers’ appetite for simplicity and recognizes that there are many other things they could be doing at that moment.

4. Make the posts looks tasty. Readers often decide in a glance whether they want to get stuck into your post or not. So make it visually appetizing. I advocate the use of exceptional photos or illustrations to give it some pop. A visual also can set a tone or create a personality for the post out of the gate.

Short paragraphs give people a chance to visually breathe during the read, especially important when they are skimming over a longer post. It’s as if they are crossing a pond on stones, and each stone (or paragraph break) is a place to regroup. You don’t want to have the stones too far apart.

There are certainly many more tips than these, but I’m out of fingers.

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.