Blogging takes time, and there is nothing worse than spending hours creating a new post only to find a week later that a mere handful of people read your work and no one even bothered to leave a comment. A lack of followers is why many people abandon their blog after just a few months.
So how do you attract readers to your blog and build a loyal following?
It won’t happen overnight. We’ve been trained in the digital society to expect instant results.
However, there is no getting around that you must put in the effort by consistently posting and promoting your blog. Also, realize that you have lots of competition. There are now over 150 million blogs in existence – an incredible statistic – and that number grows daily. Everyone is competing for followers, so you are competing with many, many other bloggers.
You might think that a successful blog isn’t even possible, but here are some tips that will bring you results.
1. Quality is King but Perfection is Overrated. Outstanding content is the single most important element to your audience – people will not return if the site is a loser so work hard to create the best writing, images and video. Yet, a blog post does not have to be perfect. You will need to keep the content stream going and sometimes good enough just has to be good enough.
2. Don’t be Shy! You’ve got great content, now don’t hold back. Use every platform you can find to promote your blog. Think of your blog as a product you are marketing using social networking platforms. Initially it is acceptable to share your posts with friends, family and some co-workers – you will be surprised who will become a loyal follower. However, be sensitive and don’t hound friends and family continually to read your blog. Think outside your immediate circle. Visit other blogs and leave comments or helpful tips. Find online platforms to list your blog or create guest posts. Write a press release about your blog or a byline story (like the one you are reading now) on a subject related to your blog.
3. Learn From Your Elders. Identify a few dozen successful bloggers across a number of categories and look hard at what they are doing right. Take notes. You will learn a lot from others who have come before you. You can get ideas from what they are writing and sometimes, you can even take the opposing viewpoint (which will create some controversy). Above all, always make sure that you create your posts with your own personal perspective and in your own voice. Successful bloggers learn from others, but they are not copycats.
4. Be Generous. You’ll find friends online who will write guest posts for you and ask you to guest post for them. It’s like going into a store with an outer and an inner set of doors. You open the door for someone and they will then open the second door for you. Just like in life, courtesy goes a long way. At a blogger conference, I once befriended someone who was standing alone at a mixer. Turns out that while she is terribly shy in large social gatherings, she is also a popular blogger with a huge following. Since that conference, my new friend has proved to be one of my biggest supporters and her professional assistance has helped me enormously.
5. Controversy Sells. Yes, controversy can attract a large following, but think before you post. For example, some bloggers will post about their personal relationship issues with spouses, siblings, parents and children. Ask yourself: Is the blog post idea valid and true? Would you be invading someone’s privacy just to get people to notice you? You could cause hurt feelings with friends and family members or even lose your job. If your post is just shocking for the sake of being shocking, you can easily turn off your core audience. Some bloggers turn to excessive profanity or explicit material to create controversy. In fact, the use of profanity is so overused online that it’s no longer controversial – merely bad taste. Controversy is best served with smart writing or truly amazing graphics.
My advice for attracting a significant following is to find your voice, be original, create unique content and keep posting, posting, posting.
Do some research and seek out bloggers whose work you admire. When you connect with other quality bloggers online, be generous by sharing tips and making the time to visit their blogs and leave comments. It’s fine to promote yourself to your community, but keep in mind that people have busy lives and helping you grow your blog audience is not their top priority.
Remember that while controversy will get attention, clever is always better than profane or mean.