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How to Attract Readers? – Blog Case Study

The following post was submitted by Carolyn Goodwin as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

I hadn’t even read a blog until my brother introduced me to English Cut and explained the benefits of blogging for business. I recently began my career as a professional gift consultant for Whirled Events, and joined the land of bloggers shortly thereafter. I’m not a “computer person”, nor are many of my clients, at least to the extent that most people in the blogosphere tend to be.

As the primary intention of my posts is to inform people about what I am doing and where my company is going, I ask of you all the following: How do I attract readers when my primary market doesn’t know much about blogs? I specifically wonder how those of you out there with blogs that don’t relate to technology, science or news issues originally attracted your readers.

The standard suggestions of commenting on others’ blogs or submitting articles doesn’t seem to be as effective here, since I’m catering to an audience that is less hi-tech and more traditional in nature. I’ve been writing for a little over a month now, but don’t seem to get any readers that stick on my site and read through several posts, indicating to me that my target market isn’t reaching my site (or perhaps my writing just stinks, but I’ve asked my most confrontational friends and they assure me that isn’t the case).

I am in the process of setting up a company website to which I will link my blog into, which I am hoping will help. Because I believe that blogging will only grow as a means of informative, customer-centric advertising, I also hope to gain somewhat of a “first mover” advantage in my industry, since the gift and home decorative industry is relatively absent in blogging. How have some of you dealt with a similar situation? I extend my sincere gratitude in advance for your suggestions and comments.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Tom says:

    Hello Carolyn,

    My first suggestion would be to back up all your posts, and move to typepad or wordpress. I see you are using the blogger platform. I made the mistake of using them too. Wanting to build my content and work into technical details gradually, I started with them. Last Saturday after working since January on my gardening blog… it disappeared. Poof. Gone. Writing to blogger support is an empty hole. A good lesson in backing up your most valuable item. Your content.

    Good luck!

  2. Hi Carolyn

    My own audience is far from tech-savy so that is why I produce a newsletter each week that looks back over the stories I’ve recently written.

    If you offer a .pdf as an incentive to people to supply their email address with tips suitable for your own audience all the better.

    And I must agree with Tom, if you can use Typepad or WordPress you will see some real benefits.

    All the best

    Craig

  3. Carolyn, your blog is wonderful, as is your writing. The pictures are beautiful. In fact, I would add even more pictures to your posts. Why not seperate out your promotion efforts into those customers who don’t use the internet, and those that do. For those that don’t, use traditional means like flyers, newspaper ads, and maybe email. For those that do use the internet, and shop online, then try things like writing to the editors of sites like iVillage, About, or the online newspaper versions of major metropolitan cities. They are all growing online. There’s also Craigslist, and other online classifieds. Also, look at writing to sites that focus on niches like weddings, networking (sales/marketing/execs always need to get gifts), or ettiquette. The geek sites that focus on lifestyle might even appreciate having your help.

    How about writing a post called, “Great gifts for bloggers”, and then contact about 50 bloggers and ask them if they will post it on their blog. You can count me as one. If a blog like Boing Boing picks it up, then watch the traffic flood in. That idea was inspired from another Problogger case study that could help you called, Gaining a Top Google Ranking in Two Weeks – Blog Case Study. Check it out.

    Try looking at your blog as a way to express yourself and your creativity, instead of a customer-centric vehicle for advertising. It will be way more fun for you and your readers. You are helping us think more about the gifts we buy and why. You give us tips, and spur our imagination. People will buy more into your passion and creativity, than the physical stuff you put on the shelf. Your blog is very new so give yourself time to attract readers.

  4. My advice (take it with a grain of salt, as our site is at the same early stage as yours) is read the book Guerrilla Marketing: gmarketing.com . There’s an awful lot in it, but it’s in short, easy-to-read chapters, so it doesn’t overwhelm. Then get some journalist interested in you. It’s probably easiest if you start close to home… local papers like “little guy stories” and people like to buy local, even in our globalized times. You might also try marketing your story to the student or alumni paper of your university. I noticed one of your posts had a long list of industry people answering questions… ask them if they have any media contacts that might be interested in your story.

    As for the online stuff… I hope to learn as much as you do from your case study!

  5. Hi Carolyn,

    I agree with Tom – first thing get onto WordPress. In the long run it will do you good.

    Regarding attracting an audience and increasing your blog traffic while you say the old posting comments isn’t working for you I wonder how diligently you are doing so?

    Your audience may not be very net savvy but I’m certain there are people out there who currently read websites about your topic – these people are your target audience.

    You need to think like these people and consider what other blogs they would visit. They may not realize they are blogs given they are not very net savvy, but that doesn’t really matter – the audience you attract doesn’t have to realize that your site is a blog for it to be effective.

    Start by building a list of blogs with an audience you suspect would enjoy your blog and then test by commenting on those blogs (contributing to the conversation of course – don’t SPAM – demonstrate your expertise). See which blogs bring in traffic, those that do spend more time commenting, those that don’t, spend less time (80/20 rule style).

    Give yourself a daily task to make 10 solid comments on other blogs before you go to bed and that will do wonders for your traffic.

    Other options-

    - Offer to write articles to other blogs as you have done here with ProBlogger – but try and find blogs or websites with your target audience. ProBlogger while having loads of traffic probably doesn’t have the audience you want (but hey, it certainly doesn’t hurt!).

    - Start recording a podcast. Getting listed in iTunes can bring in a lot of targeted traffic quickly and it gives you a new channel of communication beyond text.

    - Send out more trackbacks. Just like comments, trackbacks are good to get the attention of other bloggers and of course people are always interested when you link to them so they will very likely come and check out your blog after you send the trackback. This may result in them writing a blog post about you.

    - Email other bloggers to make friends. Start building a relationship for potential joint ventures in the future. If you have contact with 10 of the top website owners in your niche and you do a special product launch blog post or really solid quality article you can email your friends and ask them to link to it. If you have an established relationship you will much more likely get a positive response as opposed to being a stranger asking for a link out of the blue. Be prepared to return the favor of course.

    - As you did with blog comments, do the same for forums. Start joining in and demonstrating your expertise in forums that have your target audience and use your signature file to advertise your blog. If you stick to it this technique can bring in a lot of targeted traffic.

    If you start doing all these things the compound effects over time will bring in traffic. There are of course heaps of other techniques you can try (I’m always testing new ones myself), but whatever you do be consistent and be smart – focus on what works and not what doesn’t.

    You may want to start implementing a few changes in your blog design to increase its “stickiness” too – for example adding an recommended articles page linked from navigation bar so you can highlight your best content.

    If you were on WordPress I’d also recommend you install the related entries plugin and the tag warrior plugin.

    Phew! I’ll stop now…

    Try my blog traffic tips newsletter too for more advice like this.

    Cheers,

    Yaro

  6. katiebird says:

    Carolyn, I very much like your writing style and the feel of your blog. You’ve somehow given a business blog the feel of a personal blog — and I mean that in a very good way.

    I’m experimenting with something on my blog. I’ve created sub-sets of my About Eat4Today.com pages that have more information for users. And on one of those pages I tell people how to read or make a comment if they choose. I know from friends that are new to blogs that clicking on ‘comment’ isn’t obvious to them — it never occurs to them.

    You might think back to how your brother introduced you to blogging and use some of those ideas and language to create a ‘what’s this all about’ page.

    Good luck! I think you’ve got a good thing going.

  7. Renee says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    While you’re pondering your options to move to hosted blogs site, may I suggest you add this code to your blogspot template. This is to take away blogspot embedded top bar. Nothing personal to blogspot, but I think it’s an eye sore to the site layout especially with such a nice graphic header you have there.

    Here are the two options, either one works perfectly. REMEMBER, there is no spacing at all for all tag codes. I use it here as not to trickle some funny characters.

    Either this …

    or this … right before the closing style tag and after the closing tag of #footer p

    #b-navbar {
    height:0px;
    visibility:hidden;
    display:none
    }

    All the best! =)

  8. Renee says:

    I knew this going to happen but never expected even with spacing, my codes still won’t show up.

    So here again, and replace brackets for greater or less than…

    Either this …

    ( n o e m b e d )
    ( b o d y )
    ( / n o e m b e d )

    or this … right before the closing style tag ( / s t y l e ) and after the closing tag of #footer p

    #b-navbar {
    height:0px;
    visibility:hidden;
    display:none
    }

    Good luck and if these still can’t get through … then I rest my case. =(

  9. Power Play says:

    Great story Carolyn!
    I look forward to seeing how all the advice here pans out for you.
    The embed/no embed tip is very good- be sure to use it.

    Mike

  10. Joe says:

    Hey Carolyn,

    All the suggestions are great, but since you don’t have a tech savvy target audience, consider hard copy’s.

    Include your Blog address and when you complete it, your Website address on everything.

    Put it on business cards, presentations, proposals, include it in your address on the head of stationary.

    Let your customers know you have a Blog, if they ask, explain what it is and what you are trying to do.

    Don’t neglect an important part of your target, and you may be able to bring them along for the ride.

    Just my 2 cents,

    Joe

  11. Joe says:

    And sombody shut the bold off…

    Please!!!

    J.

  12. katiebird says:

    … Does this work?

  13. Okies, here’s something for Darren to write about. How to move a blogger Blog*spot blog to wordpress. And just plain how to get started with wordpress on a hosted site.

    I know that at some point I’m going to want to move, and that the longer I put it off the harder it will be. But I’m not even sure how to get started. Ultimatly I’m annoyed at the default blogger templates, and would like to create something like http://www.adintegration.com/ which forsure would have a very very high CTR.

    Market Participant — http://gewinnvortrag.blogspot.com/

  14. Thank you all so much for your comments. This has been a huge help, and I’m looking forward to implementing your suggestions. I’ll definitely make the switch from Blogger…it’s something I’ve been considering for a while but it sounds like an overwhelming majority agrees that it’s necessary. Darren – thanks for an amazing blog, and best of luck to all of you!

  15. I am also looking to move from Blogger, but WordPress seems so much more technical. Do you all host all your blogs and sites with one hosting service. I have a service which says you can host 10 domains there for free, but their tech support is non existant.

    How difficult is all this to do, and what are the disadvantages of hosting a site on the same account as your other sites?

  16. Power Play says:

    Market Participant-
    That adintegration site you linked to really has nothing that can’t be learned right here for free.
    Honestly- much of that is basic Adsense stuff.
    I always get a kick out of the right column skyscrapers- looking for accidental clicks. Not fair to the Adword clients, to be honest.

  17. Janice says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    I like your site. It looks good!

    I have a blog for moms.

    You might be interested in a post that my twin sister wrote on our blog about wordpress. (We work together. She is a former software developer and handles all the tech stuff for our business.) http://www.5minutesformom.com/46/do-you-blog/

    As the others have said, getting away from blogger is pretty much a must!

    Good luck!

  18. Thank you all for the WordPress advice. I’ve started looking into it further and will definitely make the move – my web designers should be finished with my site shortly so at that point I’ll transfer it over to their server and can begin utilizing the category function. Thanks again for all of your help!

  19. Vik says:

    WordPress or Typepad, where to move your blog?? Hmmm…..
    Guys I can see that there are discussions regarding wordpress being a bit too technical, but believe me, its the best Blogging Platform there is! Typepad may look simple and indeen it is, but at the cost of losing out on several features. In WordPress you might need to get a host and then install the blog in a sql database and all, but hey it will just takes 2 nights of reading but will provide an amazing platform to new bloggers.

    Typepad is pretty limited in its features. I can vouch for it as I have used both. I have just canceled my typepad membership and moved to WordPress.

    My WordPress blog is brand new and i am in the process of transferring over 3 months of posts from Typepad to WordPress, manually mostly,as I don’t know how to automatically integrate the posts and I don’t want to take any chances with my links. But If you would look it ain’t that shabby either, and I think its better than Typepad, as it gives amazing choices in Templates as well.

    Also, If you start a new blog in a relatively unknown Niche, it is most probable that soon guys in your niche would follow suit and start blogging. Here you can actually befriend them by sharing your knowledge of WordPress – from start to end, making good friends in the process , also regular readers of your blog.

    Hope these Tips help. Lemme know!

    Regards,
    Vik.

  20. Miguel says:

    I have recently started blogging myself and i find it has been hard to get people to read and join in on my discussions. Have you had any success with reaching strangers from the internet world? Also please visit http://www.mbopexperiment.ning.com. Thank you!

  21. Justin says:

    First off…I would like to thank everyone that has commented on this page. Reading everyone’s tips and suggestions has been so helpful that I started implementing them before I could finish reading.

    I created my company’s official blog almost 2 months ago (http://aprilrainskinscience.blogspot.com) and we’ve actually received steady traffic, but the numbers are not as high as we would like. Hopefully all these great tips will have people flocking to our blog.

    PS I’ve noticed a lot of suggestions not to use Blogger…can someone explain this to me in detail?

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