I have only been blogging for 19 months and before that I knew nothing whatsoever about blogging. So I’ve been really reluctant to write this post. I have finally decided to write it because I received so many requests from my readers to share the “secrets” of this blog’s popularity that I couldn’t resist any longer.
I’m sure there are many things that more experienced bloggers know about this. Also, I don’t have any time to follow the regular advice dispensed to beginner bloggers to promote their blogs on Technorati, blog carnivals, webrings, etc. As it is, I spend from 30 to 60 minutes every day answering blog-related mail and another 60 to 90 minutes moderating comments. And then there is also answering comments and actually writing the posts. There are days when I spend up to 8 hours on blog-related activities. And that’s on top of my full-time job. So scouring blog promotion sites is really out of the question for me. The advice I can give mostly has to do with what you can do within the blog itself to make it easier for readers to find it and keep coming back once they do. Once again, I don’t pretend to be any kind of authority on this. This is what works for me. If you have any suggestions of your own, do leave them in the comment section.
1. Mind the titles of your posts. Many people go out of their way to come up with fun, snappy titles for their blog posts. I’m sure that this strategy makes their regular readers very happy, but it also makes it very hard for new readers to find the blog. The best thing for the post title is to be as descriptive as possible of what the post contains. Think about the search phrase that people who might be interested in this post will enter into their search engine and design the post title accordingly. You will end up with long, boring titles, but also a bunch of new readers every day.
2. The length of the posts matters. In my experience, posts should be neither too long nor too short. If a reader followed a link to your blog and found a post that is just 3 or 4 lines long, it is possible that they will feel disappointed and won’t come back. At the same time, excessively long posts bore people. Visitors might not even begin reading the post if they see it is too long. I suggest breaking up a longer post into 2 or 3 parts.
3. Guest posting might be counter-productive. Several bloggers shared with me something that confirmed my own experience: more often than not, inviting guest bloggers to post on your blog decreases readership. If you do it more often than once or twice a year, the readership might decrease dramatically. Even if your guest blogger is very talented and writes a lot better than you do, people don’t want to read their posts on your blog. (That is, unless your guest blogger is some kind of a huge celebrity, but how often does that happen?) If readers come to your blog, they come to read your posts and they feel disappointed if you offer them somebody else’s writing instead. As your blog becomes more popular, you will start getting offers to guest post more and more often (I receive at least one a day.) It might feel like accepting these offers will give you more posts, which will end up in bringing in more readers. In reality, it works the opposite way.
4. Make the blog easy to understand for new readers. As in any relationship, you will end up developing a language of your own with your long-standing readers. Some bloggers tend to forget that this language is incomprehensible to new readers. Sometimes, you read a post and have a feeling that there is a lot of interesting history behind it, which is not comprehensible to readers who haven’t been to the blog before. Before you publish the post, read it as if you were a first-time visitor. And then change it in a way that will make the post easy to understand to anyone who has never been to the blog before.
5. Don’t limit yourself in the choice of topics. I know this advice is contrary to what many blog promotion sites suggest: just choose a topic and stick to it. There is an important difference between blogs that are trying to sell something and blogs that aren’t. My blog isn’t selling anything. Of course, it’s nice when people go to Amazon through this blog and buy what they need, but it was never the point of the blog. Nowadays, I receive offers to place paid advertisement on my blog about every other day and, for now, I’m resisting these offers. As a result, I can write about absolutely anything I want, and the blog has a chance to attract different kinds of people with a variety of interests.
6. Write often. I know that you must have heard this a hundred times before, but it’s a truth that bears repeating. I know that I feel quite annoyed when my favorite bloggers
7. A blog is not the same as a Facebook page. Posting tons of photos of your friends and of every event you attended is only of interest to the people you know. If you have no desire to attract readers who’ve never met you, go ahead and do it. However, if you want to increase your readership beyond the circle of your immediate acquaintanceship, I suggest you move all that personal stuff to Facebook. As a reader of your blog, I have no interest in knowing what your friend’s friend looks like when she is drunk and I don’t find looking at 15 pictures of your kitten throwing up on the carpet all that fascinating.
8. Follow the buzz. At any given time, there is a subject or two that’s on everybody’s mind. Identifying such a topic and writing about it while it’s still hot will bring an explosion of readership to the blog. For me, that has always been the most difficult strategy to follow because I never have the time to stay updated on what everybody is watching on YouTube or tweeting on Twitter. However, as your blog becomes more popular, you will discover that your readers will do this work for you. If you have received three requests within the hour to discuss a certain subject on the blog, it might be a good idea to look into it.