Who wants to grow their blog’s audience?
I’m yet to meet a blogger who doesn’t, so I’m picturing in my mind a room full bloggers with their hands in the air!
If you’re one of them, I would highly recommend you spend a few minutes today listening to the first 20 or so minutes of this podcast by Tim Ferriss who outlines how he’d build his audience if he were starting from scratch today (note: the rest of the podcast answers other questions which are good but less relevant for bloggers).
There’s some great ideas in his answer that in essence are similar to what I’ve written and spoken about previously on:
- identifying who you are trying to reach
- asking where those readers are gathering and/or focusing their attention
- and then trying to work out how to build a presence in those places
But one of the other key messages in Tim’s podcast that really stood out to me was this statement that he made:
‘The most labor-efficient way to build readership over time is long-form evergreen content.’
There is so much wisdom in this statement and I’d highly recommend bloggers ponder two parts of it.
Long Form Content
There has definitely been a trend over the last few years for many bloggers to move toward shorter form content. I’m not sure if this has been the result of the short for nature of social media, an assumption that people’s attention spans are short, the pressure to publish more posts or something else – but I’ve heard it taught from the stage at conferences and have definitely noticed more and more bloggers creating shorter posts in recent years.
My experience has been similar to Tim’s. I’ve noticed that it’s my longer and more in-depth posts that tend to get the most shares, the most links and the most traffic – both when they’re launched and over their long tail life.
There are definitely exceptions but today as I look through the top 10 most read posts here on ProBlogger over the last 12 months the shortest one is 714 words and the longest is over 7000. Their average is 2491.
I recently spoke about some of the benefits (and some of the costs) of creating long form vs short form content here so won’t go on too long about it except to say that at the very least longer form content is worth weaving into the mix of content on your blog.
I’m not arguing that every post needs to be longer form – it takes a lot of effort to create and there is a definitely place for shorter content – but the effort you put into longer posts can be a great investment to make into your blogging.
Further Reading: read Search Engine Journal’s article Why You Need to Start Creating Long, Evergreen Content Today.
Note for those not familiar with the term ‘Evergreen Content’: Evergreen posts are ones that don’t lose their relevancy over time. You write them today and they will be as helpful to readers in a few months (or even years) time.
I know that not every blog topic/niche naturally lends itself to the creation of evergreen content (for example ‘news’ and ‘reviews’ sites can sometimes struggle with it) but most blogs should be able to find a way to create at least some content that doesn’t date quickly.
Of course part of the reason for this is that it’s the main focus of what I do – but we do cover ‘newsy’ type posts from time to time on dPS and apart from a spike in traffic shortly after it is published it rarely ever gets more than a trickle of traffic ever again.
To illustrate the case for Evergreen Content
Let me give you a couple of case studies. Here’s how a time sensitive post announcing the launch of the New Adobe Lightroom that we published on dPS recently performed in terms of traffic.
You can see the initial burst of traffic as it went live and as our readers excitedly gobbled up the hot news (and it was fairly significant news in the photography niche).
But in the month after it’s had little traffic and I suspect will never see more than a handful of visitors coming to it in a given day again.
Contrast this with an evergreen post I published back in January of 2007 on the topic of ISO Settings.
The post had it’s own little spike in traffic in the first days (although I had hardly any readers at that point) but to this day it continues to get traffic (for example yesterday it had over 1100 visitors).
The beauty of evergreen content is that it not only gets the same initial spike of traffic to it when you publish but it also is much more likely to be searched for and found in search engines in the years to come.
The other benefit of the evergreen content is that you (and others) are able to keep sharing it on social for years to come also! It is this evergreen content that I’ve built my whole social media workflow around.
Take a look at this daily traffic graph of the same post on ISO where you’ll see some bigger daily spikes periodically on the days I retire it on social media.
I have given that post a refresh occasionally over the years but it’s largely the same content that I published in 2007 and despite being 8 years old still gets a great reaction every time I share it on social.
Note: worth noting here is that this example is not what I’d consider to be ‘long form content’. It’s around 700 words in length which isn’t short – but it shows you that there’s a place for ‘mid sized’ form content too.
The most compelling case for investing time into Evergreen Content…
As I look at the two examples of posts I’ve just shown you what strikes me most is the investment that was put into those two posts was similar.
From memory I probably spent an hour or two writing the post on ISO. I’m not sure how long the author who wrote the Lightroom announcement post spent on it but looking at it he put at least that much time into researching and writing it.
Considering that investment of time – I’d say the case for evergreen content is pretty clear.
The quote I started with from Tim Ferriss was all about labor efficient ways to build readership. It’s not the only way but I’d have to say that I think he identified one approach that really resonates with my own.
Further Reading: Check out Ali Luke’s post Your Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazing Content that Draws Readers Into Your Blog.