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How to Build Your Blog’s Readership

Speed-Posting@jeremyjacks asks – How did you get to be a big blogger? And what should I do to get more site hits?” also – @JoshAnstey asks – “whats the best way to build blog exposure?”

I’m not sure I’m famous outside of a very small segment of the internet – but the growth I’ve had on my blogs has come over a long period of time and I would say that one of the ‘secrets’ to growing a blog readership is to stick at it and work hard for a sustained period of time. I’ve been blogging 5 and a half years now and have worked a lot of hours in that time.

Outside of hard work (and a bit of luck) there are many techniques you can use to grow readership to a blog. I’ve summarised some of the many articles I’ve written on the topic here on my How to Find Readers for your Blog page. Also check out my 6 part series on How I’d Promote My Blog if I was Starting Out Again. I really believe that the topics covered in that of guest posting (on relevant blogs in your niche), networking, viral content, advertising and social media are a great place to start.

Also – get on Twitter (I know you’re on it Jeremy and Josh but others should) because it’s a pretty hot spot at the moment when it comes on online activity and I think the potential to drive a lot of traffic from there is still only just being realized. It’s a space that is still in it’s early days of development so get in early (even though it’s been a year or two since it launched) and position yourself for the future.

Lastly – keep tracking with ProBlogger because in May I’m planning a month long series on growing readership.

Add Your tips to build blog traffic in comments below and go in the draw to win a ProBlogger Book.

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. Danny Cooper says:

    Not bad for a three minute post! Frequent quality posting seems to be the bread and butter way of building readership.

    -Danny

  2. Good stuff, Darren. I LOVE the speed posting thing, by the way. Very cool idea.

  3. Darren,

    I started my blog, SalesBlogcast.com, less than two months ago. It’s funny how things work. I had seen you sight a few years ago… thought it was “nice,” but I never thought of myself as a blogger. Somewhere along the line, things changed. I remembered your site and have used your AMAZING advice over the last few months to build my site. Readership is picking up very quickly! Your point about staying with it is powerful in more ways than one. In my case, you made a lasting impression for someone who at first had no interest, but came back years later to be a raving fan!

    Many Thanks!

    Doyle Slayton
    Executive Director & Sales Strategist
    http://www.SalesBlogcast.com

  4. Eric Go says:

    Speaking of Speed posting, I knew for one a colleage where he used to write long articles way back.

    And when he decided to write two to three short post daily through email everything picked up.

    For every thought or wisdom that pops into his mind, he sends a short email that automatically post the email to his blog. Mobile blogger indeed.

    Eric

  5. Fabien says:

    By far, one of the best ways to start driving traffic to a blog is via SEO. SEO is quintessential for any blog because it increases the likelihood that one of your posts is found by someone looking for information about a particular topic on the internet (because your site is more accessible), people searching take the form of a targeted reader who is more likely to subscribe to your blog than someone who you added on Digg and you don’t event know a lot about them or what they enjoy/don’t enjoy reading.

    But I know that SEO is for blogs and sites that have been around for a while, so the best way to drive traffic for newer blogs than ProBlogger is by searching on sites like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog (find people who own blogs similar to yours). But don’t simply add people for the sake of adding them and hope that they’ll visit your site. Attracting10 or so targeted readers to your site is far better than adding 100 friends and praying that they’ll visit sometime soon and maybe…just maybe they’ll click on an ad and make you a few cents (money hungry bloggers).

    These 10 targeted readers should be related to your niche, and you should begin developing a relationship with them (add them on all social media sites you are on), talk to them via IM if it is possible – discuss various topics, about blogging or just life in general. In this way, you are developing a relationship with someone and they are therefore more likely to come back to your site, link to your site and participate in discussions on your site.

    Many people enjoy the power of commenting, I particularly believe that this is important to a certain degree. The typical model for attracting readers to your blog is by making your comments smart and witty, informative and insightful or simply adding your own opinion or spin on things to the post. Comments like “great post, thanks for the info” and “you’re such a rockin blogger dude!” are bad and they will not result in any significant traffic boosts for your site. Comment like you mean it and make sure your comment stands out from the rest – it adds value and is very informative.

    Using social media sites to submit your content to is recommended, but I highly recommend going to smaller and more focused sites like BloggingZoom, huge sites like Digg have lots of people – but it’s not always the best for getting targeted traffic.

    I do not hold ‘contests’ in the best light as a qualified way of bringing in traffic. The problem with contests is that most of them require the user or visitor to subscribe via RSS feed – the problem lies therein. The people who have subscribed via RSS have only done so to win a prize, half of them might not be interested in reading or participating actively on your blog again. Contests can be more successful and convert very well if you plan a way to benefit the subscribers on a long term basis. Most blogs fail at achieving maximum traffic with their contests (usually as a result of bad planning and poor execution of this plan).

    As Darren has stated, guest blogging and Twitter are really great ways of giving free exposure to your brand and expanding your reach in the blogosphere. The overarching theme in all of this points back to great content – you can have as much traffic as you want but it won’t do you any good if you do not have interesting articles for your readers to munch on regularly.

  6. Lynn Terry says:

    Marketing and promotion will get you visitors, but to build a readership – or a following – you must have great content and/or a unique ‘voice’ in your market.

    A loyal readership comes from establishing a relationship with your visitors so you want to make sure you have a solid About page and a compelling subscription option. This allows you a virtual handshake and a means of following up with them.

    From there you want to interact with your readers as much as possible. Ask for feedback and then act on it. Reply to comments. Feature select readers in your content. Once a visitor becomes personally *involved* with you or with your blog, that visitor becomes a ‘reader’.

  7. Darren I’m glad to read that you don’t think that your famous outside of a very small segment on the internet. That is a true statement. I’m not emphasing it to be negative but rather becasue I think people who write for blogs that get a lot of traffic are under the false impression that they are “really famous.” They are not.

    While I’m sure you have been a little lucky, my guess would be that the hard work and hefty amount of time (5 1/2 years) you have put into your craft of blogging is why you are successful.

    Reading your blog has become a morning ritual around here. Keep up the great work.

    Live From Las Vegas
    The Masked Millionaire

  8. Amen Bob, Darren’s got something great going here.

    I’ll throw a couple of tips on the pile. One of the best ways to grow your blog readership is to get other people to do it for you. Convert them into passionate followers and they will naturally spread the good word for you.

    Another great way is to be consistent. People like variety, but they also like consistency. So give them variety within a consistent framework (e.g. a post about a new rock band every Wednesday).

  9. Steve J says:

    Just like to say that I too am loving the speed posting theme. Perhaps it is just the short attention that gets developed on the internet but I’m finding myself reading these articles much more than the lengthier ones. Cheers.

  10. My tip is to run a contest. We recently ran two caption contests and got a lot of extra traffic. Whether they will stay with the blog, only time will tell!

    In hindsight next time I think a lucky draw would be better. It took ages to read all the captions, short list them, circulate them among all of us and choose one as a winner.

  11. Frugal Dad says:

    Darren, your point regarding patience is certainly a valid one. I imagine over the past five years you have see many blogs come and ago in both your primary niches. In some respects you have grown more and more popular through attrition – as others drop out of the game, more people turn to you. A lot can be said for keeping your head down and plugging away at the things we know work well, particularly in crowded niches where it is hard to stand out. Eventually you will rise to the top.

  12. It took me a while to realize what Twitter was all about, and I was actually going to write a post on my brand new blog about it, entitled “Do you REALLY need to be on Twitter?” with the point being that Twitter is a gimmicky, addictive waste of time that will do more to ruin your workday than anything else (and it should be mentioned, of course, that the wonderful versatility of this tool certainly does allow you to use it for that purpose too). However, now I get it. Twitter canabsolutely be a very valuable tool – and perhaps especially for bloggers. So I decided to start using it more, but only somewhere down the line when I have ‘more to offer,’ so to speak. After all, I just got into blogging again a few days ago.This post, however, just reminded me of the power of getting in early on things, and Twitter is no exception. So I think that’s a good point and a good reminder, Darren. Now is the time. Get on the bandwagon straight away. (And I’m going to ask my offline friends to get on it too, it frankly stinks to have such an embarrasingly low number of followers there… :)

  13. SpaceAgeSage says:

    “I’m not sure I’m famous outside of a very small segment of the internet” — hey, I still have to explain to people what blogging is! The words, “I started a blog,” still gets funny looks.There is a vast untapped potential out there … guess that’s why sometimes you have to go find the audience (sometimes outside the blogging world) as per previous speed post.

  14. Josh Anstey says:

    Hey Darren,

    Thanks for mentioning me and my question.

    Great answer. And the idea of speed posting is really cool.

    Thanks again for the tips.

    Cheers,

    Josh

  15. Becky says:

    I was not warned prior to starting a blog how obsessive the blog scene would become – not just writing my own – but reading others. Like nesting dolls, there is always a different one hidden on the side of each new blog I read. I’m afraid I’ve discovered how extremely random I am.

  16. James Joyner says:

    Darren,

    I’ve got a Twitter account but, frankly, never figured out why or what to do with it. How would spending time microblogging there help drive readers to my blogs? Is it simply a matter of posting links to my posts on Twitter? Isn’t that considered spamming the feed?

  17. Melvin says:

    Seriously darren, the longer your blog, the better your readership will be… I have skimmed this blog before way back from its first post and have seen that before there were even posts that do not have a comment, so its really patience that make a blog succesful…

  18. Peter says:

    I don’t really have many visitors, so I doubt I am any kind of authority. But I have noticed that, what works pretty consistently to get readers, is to engage with the community you are writing for. If you have a blogpost on some software, follow their forum and post there from time to time. If they don’t mind (it depends) also promote your blogpost a bit and see what happens.

    But patience and persistence are the main long-term factors. You’re entirely correct there.

  19. Nate Desmond says:

    Hello,
    I have found that entrecard really brought up my visitors for a few days. Do you think that entrecard generates the right kind of visitors or not? Thanks!

  20. Jummy says:

    I think it’s easy to forget that this fame that you’ve gained online has taken time to develop. We see someone who has “made it” and we want to know how to get there, now, not thinking of the time logged and the work involved to get there.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    (Oh, I need to use my twitter to promote my blog more!)

  21. Patience is certainly the greatest virtue when it comes to blogging! I’ve been writing for over a year and its only in the past couple of months that my readership has begun to develop. I’d also add that interacting with your readers is a great way to develop loyal readers who return knowing their comments and emails are appreciated.

  22. Darren, it’s quite true what you said about sticking to the blog. Hence it is important to find the niche that one has lots of interest in. With no interest, I’m not sure if it is possible to last for more than a year. With competition so stiff nowadays, I bet it takes a longer time to build readership.

    Evelyn

  23. Wow…I’m looking forward to May. I’ve told all my friends about your site by the way. One day they’ll be sick of hearing me talk about it and actually drop by. :-) Thanks again for all your hard work maintaining this wonderful site.

  24. Reginald says:

    You have included some rather relevant and resourceful links in this article, in spite of it being shorter than usually.

    In spite, every word is worth is weight in gold.

  25. As the blogosphere continues to grow at a breathtaking rate, I think getting readers and building readership could be a perennia problem or rather a topic of concern for new bloggers like me.

    Certainly, as you mentioned in the first few lines, consistency and sustainability is the key to survival. Ways like guest posting and social media could get you good number of readers certainly, no doubt, but I think networking could be the primary reason in the long run for an effective reader base for your blog.

  26. Jodith says:

    My biggest issue is that the online community for my niche is actually pretty small. I’m considering attempting some more traditional advertising (read non-internet advertising). The ones that have found my blog are enthusiastic, but it’s getting the targeted community to the blog that is difficult when a great deal of them aren’t necessarily on-line fanatics like some of us. I’d love to hear ideas directed at bringing in readers from the less internet savvy populations.

  27. georgette says:

    darren

    thank you for all of the amazing information, I am being seduced by your blog more and more everyday!

    I am really looking forward to May!

    we just launched our new blog/website and I am looking forward to learning how to build my readership

    for now, I am having fun, creating a place where I love to hang out….. putting up pictures and love from all of the amazing people and adventures who have brought so much joy to our lives

    what’s that old saying “if you build it, they will come…”

    however I am looking forward to the time when I get to guest blog, I think that this will be one magical adventure

    wishing you a magical day!

    g

  28. Todd says:

    Hi Darren,

    I was searching through the internet one day and came upon this site…I am not exactly sure how but I did. I had never considered blogging for even a second. But after reading so many post here I have decided to give it a try.

    My present blog is just a “practice blog” but I have done some of the many things you have recommended and I am amazed at how much traffic I am getting after just a few short days!

    So much of what I have read here is dead on accurate and in the future is going to help me immensely. Just a quick thanks to you.

    Todd

  29. Iconic says:

    Persistence, creativity, content, relationships, innovation, hooks, ideas, originality, partnerships, keywords, niche, targeting, focus are all keys to building a blog’s readership.

  30. Roberta says:

    Write, write, write! Find your voice and stick with it. Write about something that you’re passionate about and sooner or later, you won’t be talking to yourself.

    Persistence breaks resistance!!

  31. Hollie says:

    I find myself continually coming back to this site, and always leave with a new tip or tool! Now, the problem is, I have too many subjects that I have interest in, and want to blog about. So…patience, persistence, frequent quality posts, interaction with similar blogs, networking…and perhaps someday we can all consider blogging our careeer?
    Thanks for all of the continual guidance!
    ~Hollie
    http://www.agentwhiz.com
    http://www.foodsdiscovered.com
    http://www.songpops.com
    http://www.floridashortsalecompany.com
    (See what I mean??)

  32. Reginald says:

    I perceive that content should be identified, applied, and maintained, as a fundamental basic for blogging.

    However, the matter becomes challenging when one has to acquire interesting content to keep your reader base and help it to increase.

  33. Reginald says:

    Roberta,

    Those are my sentiments, exactly.

    Well said.

  34. Reginald says:

    Hollie, how long have you been blogging?

  35. Caitlin says:

    I’ve been thinking about using Twitter. What do you think the reasons to use Twitter are? What are the downsides? How would I go about using Twitter to drive readership of my blogs? If I have more than one blog, should I have multiple Twitter accounts? (One is on food, one is on travel, one is a personal blog).

  36. I have had a great time with my new blog and appreciate the tips you have provided. My goal is to provide original, interesting content my readers will find of value. I have a passion for Interior Design and blogging, and believe it will grow if given the proper exposure. Thanks and have a wonderful day…..~Cathy~

  37. Dear Sir.

    I have tried the techniques mentioned in this blog for a long time (around 9 months, i think) on my old blog and its readership increased around 3500% during that time. Now my host suddenly shut down my blog so I have started a new one four days ago at
    http://www.freewareelite.wordpress.com

    Any advice as to how to convert the old blog’s readers to the new blog?