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How to Grow Your Blog’s Readership

Guy Kawasaki has a useful post 10 lessons he’s learnt in How to Evangelize a Blog over his first 120 days of blogging. Here’s his list with a few of my own comments (his is the ‘bold’ (and he has more to say under each) mine is the rest):

1. Think ‘book’ not ‘diary’ – I like the analogy between book and diary. The crux of Guy’s argument is that books are meant to be read and diaries are more spontaneous, unplanned, unstructured writings. I’m a big believer in planning your blog on multiple fronts (ie not just planning your upcoming content but overall direction, marketing of it etc). While some diary style blogs can be quite successful (for what they are) most of the highly trafficked blogs have some element of focus and well defined niche. If you’re writing in a business or entrepreneurial style then you will want to think through strategy (more on this in my strategic blogging series).

2. Answer the little man - Guy’s seeing little people sitting on his shoulder critiquing what he writes (as you do) but his point is solid – be your own critic, don’t just write for the sake of it, produce content that matters. Each post you write has the potential to add or subtract value to your blog and it’s worth asking yourself which it is before hitting publish.

3. Collect email addresses – This is something I go on about from time to time and is something I’m seeing a lot of the top bloggers out there utilizing. There are many ways to do it ranging from starting an email newsletter (getting permission from readers to highlight your work) to using other email lists you might already have (be a little careful with this as it’s open to abuse).

4. Collect links for blog rolling – One of the aspects of blogging that has led to it’s viral like growth as a medium is it’s interconnectedness. Bloggers linking to other bloggers helps everyone and fast tracks you getting noticed by others. I’m not a big fan of the blogroll myself and these days my preference os to be a generous linker within individual posts. I find blogrolls can become difficult to manage, actually send limited amounts of traffic, can become somewhat political and at popularity content like. However linking within posts to other blogs seems a much more organic and natural way to link to others. I find it also has more impact in terms of the traffic you can send which has the potential to not only get attention but give your readers quality and relevant content.

5. Scoop stuff – Getting a scoop is another fast track to readership. Break a big story and have the right A-list blog link to you and you’ll find not only a lot of traffic come directly from them but indirectly from the many smaller blogs that will link up as a result. The other benefit of it beyond the initial traffic and inbound links is the respect and street credibility that can come from breaking a big story. I find that once you break one story you often get others broken directly to you by ‘sources’. Once this happen the snowball effect takes over and you can build a reputation for being someone in the know. More on Scoop Blogging.

6. Supplement other bloggers with a followup entries - Another aspect of blogging that I love is it’s conversational nature. Dialogue is at the heart of blogging on many levels including within comments on posts but also between blogs as they build upon each others ideas with posts. Take the work of another person and add your own spin on it either on their blog, via email with them or on your own blog and you enter the conversation. Once you’re a part of the conversation it’s amazing what can flow from it.

7. Acknowledge and respond to commenters – very important but a real challenge when your blog grows past a certain level. When someone goes out of their way to add something to the conversation you start by leaving an opinion, question, critique or suggestion it’s a powerful thing to acknowledge this in some way. This might mean leaving a comment in response but could also be a personal email response (I find this is incredibly effective) or even a visit to their blog with a comment on one of their posts (even more of an impact). As Guy says, this is not always easy once you’ve got a lot of traffic but is important to do at some level even after you’ve succeeded in growing an audience. If you don’t use your comments section, why would anyone else?

8. Ask for help – I discovered early in my own blogging that despite it’s reputation for snarkiness the blogging community can actually be an incredibly generous and supportive place. Ask for help and you could be amazed by what results. I find that people respond well to humility and to ask for help in some aspect of your blogging (from spreading the word, to helping with some technical problem you have, to helping you compile content etc) actually gives your readers a sense of ownership – something that has many benefits.

9. Be bold – Guy says to speak your mind as a blogger and not hold back from saying what you think. This is true and one aspect of ‘boldness’ that I’d encourage. Of course you want to consider what you say when you’re writing in what can be seen as an aggressive or attacking tone. My own approach to blogging is to attempt to find constructive things to say instead of just attacking others. Another aspect of boldness that is worth mentioning is that while humility is usually responded to well in blogging circles that there is often a need for a little self promotion. I’m not arguing that you need to aggressively sell yourself in a hype filled marketing blitz, but I’ve found that it can be occasionally beneficial to give readers a reason to read you by showing them your wares.

10. Make it easy to join up – Once again Guy’s on the money here by encouraging bloggers to use tools that help readers to stay connected. RSS feeds, email newsletters, RSS to email subscription services, encouraging readers to bookmark pages etc are all examples of this.

Found via an email from Dave

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. I love Guy. I mean seriously. I love him. Ever since I found his blog, I read what he has to say voraciously…

  2. Mike Sigers says:

    These ARE great tips, but Guy DOESN’T exactly follow many of these.

    He doesn’t really Blog Roll well, most of those are places that aren’t aligned with his topics, just HIS favorites. He does mention that he hasn’t done this well and now kinda knows how he should do it….he doesn’t comment a lot on other blogs or follow up on anyone elses posts…doesn’t use a lot of internal links in posts…doesn’t respond to many comments, as he doesn’t have to. If you disagree with anything he says, the commenters over there will eat you alive ! Kinda like here sometimes.

    In fact he said, about 3 weeks ago, ” I don’t get this “exchanging links” thing. IMHO, you should link to a blog if you believe it’s good for your readership. The other blogger should link to back your blog if she believes it’s good for her readership. In a perfect world, linking is about quality, not reciprocation, with all due respect to Dr. Cialdini. ”

    That doesn’t sound like someone who is linking back and forth, internally or in a Blog Roll. Actually it sounds selfish, elitist and plain dumb.

    His posts are a lot of copy and paste out of his books, so it’s not like he’s doing a lot of deep thought on current affairs…just using previous deep thought and making it available with this new medium – blogging.

    You or I could do the same with a book from the Public Domain, one we’d wrote or bought the rights to. Not exactly cutting edge thought processes there ?

    All in all though, it’s good info and I never miss a post. He’s on my Blog Roll, I’m a subscriber to his RSS feed and I’ve Trackbacked and Pinged his posts ever since I found his blog. I’ll continue to do so, but I doubt he’ll ever acknowledge it.

    I actually emailed and asked him to contribute to my turn hosting the Carnival of Marketing and he did allow me to use one of his posts, BUT in his elitist way, he would not tell his readers about it and send them over.

    He’s not a great blogger per se, but he’s a GREAT writer.

    He could learn a lot by reading the post he inspired on my blog :

    http://simplenomics.com/how-much-for-a-link-trackback-or-a-ping/

    I’ll go quietly now…everybody who worships Guy can feel fre to flame me, but what I said is true.

  3. Jason says:

    Great tips, Darren. I’ll apply each of them in my blogging.

    This is such an insightful blog. I really feel like I’m “learning from the master” sort of speak. It definitely appears you’re pouring your knowledge out on each page. I’m always recommending this blog to everyone I can.

    I tell all the bloggers at my site to read ProBlogger. In fact, if you have the time, it would be like having a celeb at WriteNiche if you dropped a line or entry about blogging. Maybe you could write something about niche blogging? I hope my invite isn’t too strong or anything…

    Thanks for your helpful info!

    Cheers,

    JP

  4. Darren Rowse says:

    Mike – to be honest I’ve not read heaps of Guy’s stuff so I can’t really comment on a lot of whether he implements it but like you say the tips are decent ones and he has managed to grow a very large readership pretty quickly (largely through his name/profile and #3 above).

    It’ll be interesting to see how he takes it to the next level though if your comments are true. I suspect his loyal fans will help with that process quite a bit and take those posts that he does write with quality content (like this post) and spread them to the rest of the blogosphere – critical mass is a wonderful thing when it works in your favor.

  5. Jason says:

    Darren, in growing readership, is it more important to have your entries and blogs submitted to bookmark sites and directories, or is it more important to go out and read other blogs and comment on them?

  6. Darren Rowse says:

    I’d be hesitant to say either of those ways are ‘the way’ Jason. Both can potentially bring in traffic.

    My own strategy for building traffic is multi pronged and would include both strategies you mentioned as well as many others.

    I also think traffic generating strategies need to vary from blog to blog.

    doesn’t really answer the question but I would be hesitant to only go for readership from any one method.

  7. Jason says:

    Thanks Darren.

    I’m always trying to find new ways to bring in traffic. Right now my new site gets between 200 to 400 unique visitors per day. It’s nearly a week old.

    I’ve read your articles about promoting your blog and what not. Can you perhaps point me to the discovery of new traffic building techniques?

    I’m writing a blog on Reiki (holistic healing) and also one on playing the guitar. They seem to be my two with at least some potential profit. I’m not really sure how one would go about promoting them. I often write at forums, and I have a lot of free guitar lessons going around on-line that display my link. I’m also doing the things I mentioned in my last comment as well as submitting to reprint directories.

    Thanks for your help, pal.

    Cheers,

    JP

  8. vawz says:

    Darren, Hi, thanks for this post, having just started a blog with WP and being VERY virginal at it all I value these tips for beginers – a lot! I am reading heaps on pulling in traffic, a primary issue for me at the moemnt and this article was GOLD, thanks again.
    Scott

  9. Mike Sigers says:

    You’re absolutely right, Darren, having a gazillion readers will overcome not-as-good-as-could-be practices.

    Of course, if he were not as talented a writer as he is, he wouldn’t have all those readers, of which he deserves every one.

    I’d say the progress ( learning ) he’s done betwwen the start of his blog and the 120 day mark show that he’ll be okay.

    As for the email addy thing, I’m with you and am looking at finding a large database of like minded names to send an email to. I believe that will rocket the growth of a blog like nothing else, including a news release.

    Maybe a service that has a list of sales minded names will be available and reasonably priced.

  10. Mike Sigers says:

    Well looky here…Guy’s newest post is titled :

    ” Just When You Thought You Had Me Figured Out: Links in a Entry ! ”

    Looks like he’s reading AND a quick study.

    He also states, ” You know that I throw links around like manhole covers, so three for one person is a new record. :-) ”

    At least he has a sense of humor to go with all that talent and ability.

    Good for you, Guy. You’re learning. I’m glad Darrens blog was the impetus, as it couldn’t have been all the comments I made over there. Takes a big-timer to teach a big-timer, I guess.

  11. The banker says:

    I would concentrate on leaving high quality comments on other blogs, Jason. Like this one…;)

    Seriously just try to get bookmarked in any bookmark sites that you use yourself. If you think it is good, other people like you will think it is good to. Any people that the bookmarksite sends over will then I guess be a little bitr more likely to like your content then people sent over from a random bookmark site.

    But concentrate on leaving comments.I think more people read the comments of blogs compared to the number of people that use bookmark sites. And if you comment on blogs that youread yourself, you are more likely to bring over likeminded people.

    Take it from the guy that get´s 5 hits a day :)

  12. The banker says:

    Who can’t spell or use the spacebar.

  13. AC says:

    I agree. Getting a solid readership base is important for a blog to thrive. Depending on “links” or a comment or two somewhere to get a couple more hits isn’t sustainable. Well, maybe they will be curious and click, but it really depends on what you have. That will determine whether your blog merits a second or third visit.

Trackbacks

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