Finding Readers: From Seed to Sequoia – Growing Your Blog One Reader At a Time

From Seed to Sequoia

Today we welcome DJ from SteamFeed to our Finding Readers series. This post is chock-full of things you can do today to build your traffic – and have fun while you’re doing it! 

My guess is a portion of you won’t like this article. Growing your blog one reader at a time sounds lame, I know. We live in a world of instant gratification. It seems like any task nowadays can be completed successfully in just 15 minutes or 5 easy steps. Building a blog, a real blog, doesn’t work that way. Sorry for the hard truth but your Facebook friends weren’t going to tell you, especially Aunt Ruth.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day”

Yes, I pulled out that ridiculous saying because of how insanely simple, yet helpful, advice it is. Your blog will not be an overnight success. Building your blog’s foundation requires some significant work if you want it to stand the test of time.

If you implement and follow these concepts today I promise that within 12 months you’ll see the readership of your blog increase significantly. I know this because I’m writing from experience. We took SteamFeed from a brand new blog to 100,000 views/month in just one year, and we haven’t dropped below that mark since.

 SteamFeed-pageviews

In this article we’ll focus not only growing your readership but retaining them as well.

Relationships

Building your network is vital. Im not talking about your likes and followers here. I’m talking about real people who engage with you in regards to your blog on a regular basis (these could be people whom consistently share your blog posts, leave thoughtful comments, or maybe they respond to you when you ask a question in your newsletter).

These are the people you need more of. Nurture them. Ignore them, and they’ll eventually move on and your blog will stay as stagnant as the day you published your first “hello world” article.

Grow Your Blog One Reader At A Time Tip: Visit the profile page of a new reader once a day and learn something about them. Use this information to build your relationship with them. Remember that real relationships, people who will buy from you someday, are built over time when you’ve earned their trust.

Organization

When you’re first starting out finding new readers can be difficult, so when you do come across them make sure you get organized to keep track of them. Try the following:

  • Follow them on social networks. Create lists, circles, or groups.
  • Use your gmail as a CRM
  • Go old school and bust out your excel sheet

Make sure you’re checking in with them from time to time. If you learn something about them that you believe they find value in then make note of that. If they’re a blogger themselves make sure you share their content, if appropriate, and/or comment on their content. Do what you can to give value in that relationship.

note: At some point it simply won’t be possible or viable to keep track of every single reader. However, if you’ve built your foundation correctly then the organic growth will come naturally. This doesn’t mean you give up on the relationships you’ve nurtured but it may mean you need to be more picky in the future with the ones you maintain.

Grow Your Blog One Reader At A Time Tip: The more organized you are, the easier it will be to retain your readers. Whatever system you go with keep it simple and practical.

Consistency

The truth is the more you post the faster your blog will grow. However, and this is a big however, if you post so frequently that the quality of your posts are just regurgitated boring rubbish you’ll do damage to your readership instead of growing it. Don’t post just to post. If it takes you an extra day or two to really create something of value, then hold off and do it right.

Also, posting consistently gives you a certain amount of credibility. It gives the reader a sense of security that they’re not going to start enjoying your content then all of a sudden you disappear on them. It’s sort of like when you start getting into a new TV show then it gets cancelled after the first season. Nobody likes that.

Grow Your Blog One Reader At A Time Tip: Set a schedule for yourself. Now stick to it. It won’t be easy but being disciplined about writing is important. If you flake for a week or two your readers will take notice.

Email

Email capture can be an incredibly powerful tool if used correctly (we use OptinMonster). Creating a powerful email list is one of the best ways to nurture those relationships you’ve worked so hard to gain. Whatever program you decide to use just get started on one because collecting emails from day one just makes sense. Also, add a newsletter to your once-a-month to-do list. Take the time to make the newsletter personal, but make sure it’s chock full of awesome for your readers.

Grow Your Blog One Reader At A Time Tip: 1. Grow your email list by creating a high quality ebook and offering it for free to your subscribers. 2. If appropriate, ask questions in your newsletter and see who responds. Create separate lists for these people to better track them. From time to time you can send them a first look at a new website design, added features, contest giveaways, or a preview of your latest ebook.

Images

I can’t stress enough the importance of a great image. There is so much content on the internet right now that you need something eye-popping and vibrant to catch people’s attention. I personally love using PicMonkey, Canva, and Photoshop to help me add that little something extra to my articles.

People Love To Share Beautiful Content!

Grow Your Blog One Reader At A Time Tip: Make sure you have the right to use someone’s image if you didn’t create it yourself, and definitely give proper credit to them. If you really like an image and you’re not sure if you’re allowed to use it, then try getting in touch with the owner of the image and tell them how much you like it and what you plan on doing with it. You never know where that connection may lead.

Guest Blogging

This is what I’m doing right now. I know that ProBlogger has a great community and a strong readership. I also know it produces high quality content that I love to read and I want my blog to be associated with that. I’m also hoping a number of people who read this article will check out SteamFeed and become a reader of my site as well. People love great content. They just don’t always know how to find it.

Magic Formula: Create a way for people to find you. Create great content so they stay. Repeat.

Grow Your Blog One Reader At A Time Tip: Don’t guest blog for just any old site. You should really focus on writing for sites that are in your niche. This is most likely where your readers will be too, and this is where your area of expertise is most likely in anyway. Also, make sure the site is credible. If they’ll just accept anyone to post on their site then you may want to think twice about associating yourself with them.

Marketing

Start with a great headline for your blog posts. It’s worth your time to put some extra thought into it.

On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of your title, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece. -CopyBlogger

Did you just spend hours creating the perfect blog post? Now be honest. How long did you spend marketing that blog post? If you’re going to take the time to create an amazing piece of content then get out there and let the world know about it. You don’t want it to just sit there and become irrelevant over time.

Grow Your Blog One Reader At A Time Tip: Try syndicating your content to sites like Huffington Post, Social Media Today, and Business2Community. This will help get some eyeballs to your blog.

Top 3 Takeaways

1. Focus on the quality of your content and your relationships above all else.

2. Have a plan and stay organized to effectively and efficiently grow your blog.

3. Growing your blog will take time. If you’re in it for the long run then make your decisions based on long term vision.

About Guest Blogger

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above. If you'd like to guest post for ProBlogger check out our Write for ProBlogger page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community.

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Comments

  1. Great tips! I think a lot of these points get overlooked for new bloggers. Unless you break an important story, it’s virtually impossible to get millions of pageviews overnight. Even then, you might become a one-hit wonder. Building relationships is indeed really important!

    • DJ Thistle says:

      Thanks Abhiroop! Glad you enjoyed them. Yes, it’s like playing the lottery every day and hoping you win or saving as much money as you can each week. The latter scenario will put you in a far greater position 99 out of 100 times.

    • I’ll have to agree with you on that Basu. Because getting all the traffic in the world wouldn’t help build a successful blog, except you can retain them. People visit blogs not just because they’ve the time to do so, but because they’ve a need that needs answers.

      With millions of blogs around, it’d be almost impossible to stand out and do spectacular things, but with extra work and smartness, it can be done.
      That was how a friend of mine took her lifestyle blog (http://lifestylecpa.com/blog) from no readership to hundreds of readers daily – doing the extraordinary helps a lot in driving real traffic to your website.

      • DJ Thistle says:

        Michael, I think doing the extraordinary and being unique is what everyone should absolutely be doing. The hard part is understanding what it exactly means to be extraordinary and unique. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated friend. :)

  2. Paul Wangai says:

    Nice tips here! This is so good for newbies like me who are starting out in the blogosphere. If I may ask, how effective is social media in getting readers for my blog?

    • DJ Thistle says:

      Thanks Paul! I’ve found social media to be extremely effective in getting new readers to SteamFeed. I would say the biggest impact comes from Twitter, Google+, Facebook, then LinkedIn. However, I use social media to build upon my relationships not just promote my content.

    • Mark says:

      I think it may depend on how strong of a following you already have on SM. Over the past year I have built some good relations ships on G+, Facebook, and Twitter, so now it’s a matter of letting them know they can learn more from me via my blog.

  3. Really very good piece of information. This one is very much helpful for my blogging thing, thank you

  4. Simon Chow says:

    Maintaining a blog is much harder than creating one coz nowadays creating a blog is not an issue. Many people create new blog hoping to see quick success but most of these blogs fail to due to lack of planning and poor quality contents…

    • DJ Thistle says:

      Exactly Simon! You can set up a blog in 10 minutes. Hell, you can create a great looking, unique, and functional blog in a day’s time. Setting it up is not difficult but maintaing it with quality content is. I tell everyone who asks me for blogging advice that if you really want to give blogging a chance you have to commit to it for at least 6 months but in most cases a year before you’ll start to see real results.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Simon and I’m glad you enjoyed my article. :)

  5. Thomas Owen says:

    WOW! What a great post! Some absolute gems in this post, thank you very much for sharing! What you say in this post makes complete sense, I will be taking a lot from this and implementing myself for my blog.

    I recently surveyed my email list which I have been building using my blog, in order to find out the hot topics which they would like to learn about and see me blog about. It was a multiple choice survey with only 5 questions. The response was really good and gave me a tonne of ideas on what to focus my future blog posts on!

    SteamFeed has defo got 1 new reader in me!

    • DJ Thistle says:

      Great to hear Thomas and I think sending out a survey to your email subscribers was a great idea. The more you know about what they want the better off you’ll be able to provide value to them.

      Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to also seeing you over at SteamFeed. :)

  6. Rakesh Desai says:

    People who are starting blogging will get a good way of direction from your article. thanks a lot for sharing.

  7. Mark says:

    Great article! As someone who is building a blog for the first time every time I search for an answer I seem to come up with 3-4 more questions to ask. So many great tips that will help me share my 15 years of experience and knowledge about health/fitness with others. Thanks again.

    • DJ Thistle says:

      Hey Mark,

      First let me say I think your attitude is going to help you tremendously when it comes to gaining readership for your blog. You clearly want to learn and share your passion. Two key components to any successful blog.

      Second, thanks for taking the time to comment and I’m glad you found value in my article. :)

      DJ

  8. You doing nice work keep working thanks for sharing..

  9. metz says:

    As any other bloggers would tell, growing your blog readership could be easy with relevant, valuable content posted every each week. You can grow your numbers of readers.

    The tips are actionable, not just helpful in leveraging readership, also in your traffic.

    I have to say too that none of them will work if your content is not of the highest standard, engaging, exciting or useful to readers.

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social bookmarking and networking site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

    • DJ Thistle says:

      “I have to say too that none of them will work if your content is not of the highest standard, engaging, exciting or useful to readers.” <— I think you just summed up my entire article. :)

      Thanks for stopping by Metz. What is Kingged by the way?

  10. Awesome Post! Consistency is key but as stated don’t post just to post make sure your post is ready to be published to the world before you do..

    I love this tip–>>Go old school and bust out your excel sheet! I think this is a Great idea, you can take down a list of people who leave comments whether on your blog or social media sites, you can save their information on this spread sheet so you can share new posts with them as well as visit their sites ( of course you now have access to this info)

    Visit and share the Love :)) Great Share!! Chery :))

    P.S. I did land here on your blog VIA Kingged

    • DJ Thistle says:

      I love using excel sheets too Chery! Why should we let the big boys just collect all the data and use it their advantage? :) Keeping track of your readers when you’re just starting out will definitely help you build that core foundation of readers that we all want.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  11. Yes, Success take time but how to deal with procrastination and writing block. is rewriting other people good idea to push new fresh idea to the content ?

    • Rahul says:

      Yes of course to get success you have to wait, till you get success and work hard

    • sam says:

      Thanks for the post.Its a nice and informative

    • DJ Thistle says:

      Nuri,

      If you find inspiration from someone else’s article then adding on to what they wrote is awesome. However, if you’re just regurgitating what they wrote in “your own words” then I believe that’s a waste of time. Original thought is the only way to go if you’re building a blog for the long term.

      Good luck!

      DJ

  12. Krista says:

    This is where I am right now. The long haul. I have built and built and always went where the money started to show up. Now, I am focusing on building something that I enjoy more than what will make me an income. I am hoping that the income follows the joy in the end. I can see why so many people drop out. They give up when they aren’t instant superstars, but blogging really is a marathon, not a sprint. Thanks for the tips.

    • DJ Thistle says:

      Kim,

      I just found this quote that I think may be helpful to you on this new path.

      “Walt Disney’s mantra was, “I don’t make movies to make money—I make money to make movies.” That’s a good way to sum up the difference between Disney at its height and Disney when it was lost. It’s also true of Pixar and a lot of other companies. It seems counterintuitive, but for imagination-based companies to succeed in the long run, making money can’t be the focus.

      Speaking personally, I want my films to make money, but money is just fuel for the rocket. What I really want to do is to go somewhere. I don’t want to just collect more fuel.”

      http://bobsutton.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/03/walt-disney-and-brad-bird-on-why-they-want-to-make-money-1.html

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! Good luck with your new blog!

      Is this it: http://heartlandgoeswest.com ?

      • Krista says:

        Yes, that’s me. I am really enjoying not making any money with it and not caring at this point. Honestly, I feel less rushed and more free to enjoy the journey. I still feel that is why so many give up on their blogs. They think it should be instant gratification and income. For me it’s always been easy to generate an income online with social media consulting, internet marketing work, apparel design, etc. This is a breath of fresh and blissful air.

  13. Danny says:

    Thanks DJ for the post. It is really inspiring since you emphasize on the need to take care of the relationship with reader. It is a very time consuming process but I think it is worth it.

    • DJ Thistle says:

      It definitely is Danny. If you do this then you’ll be surprised at how quickly 5 readers turns into 50 then 500.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading my article. :)

  14. sam says:

    People who are starting blogging will get a good way of direction from your article.Its a nice and helpfull article.Thanks for sharing

  15. So I’m writing great content, or at least useful content. Doing it semi-regularly. Submitting to stumbleupon, etc. Have an email capture. But getting maybe 1 email every other day from 50-75 visitors a day. Is this the best I can hope for? What’s a good target number for new readers? Thanks!

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