I was talking with a client who has a book releasing in about a year, and she was concerned about how to begin building her blog and increasing the traffic. At the moment she doesn’t have a great deal of time to devote to it, since she is still writing her book. We brainstormed and I gave her several tips off the top of my head — simple things she could immediately begin to change about her blog, that wouldn’t change her blog traffic immediately, but over time would have a positive effect. Here are the things we discussed.
1. Focus on the content of your blog rather than any fancy strategies for increasing traffic. The better your content, the more your blog readership will naturally grow.
2. Every post contains a single main idea. It can be supported by related ideas, but do not ramble. One idea.
3. Appeal to your reader’s emotion (without being gratuitous). Write on topics that resonate with people. Don’t be afraid to evoke feelings of sentimentality, belonging, joy, amazement, or even anger or fear.
4. Make use of bold fonts and subheads for emphasis whenever possible (without overdoing it and becoming annoying). Your goal is to create a user-friendly reading experience. Your reader must be able to scan your post for important thoughts and key words to determine whether they want to pay more attention and read carefully.
5. Write for the target reader of your books. Don’t write for other writers. Be very clear on the audience for your books (even creating a complete character profile of him or her) and write for that person.
6. Incorporate humor whenever possible. Don’t take yourself too seriously! Show readers that you’re a real person; make sure your posts have personality.
7. Be controversial. Many people shy away from it — writing things with which people are sure to disagree can be scary! But controversy draws people out of their shell and encourages dialogue, and often can increase the level of reader engagement on your blog.
9. Intentionally spur conversation in your comment section, by asking a question or encouraging your readers to share their opinion or their story. If you don’t do this, you’d be surprised how few people will take the time to comment.
10. Pay attention to traffic and comments. If you aren’t seeing growth, don’t just sit around wondering why. Change things up; experiment. Your blog is a living, breathing learning environment. You’re in constant testing mode. Take advantage of the opportunity for immediate feedback, and respond accordingly.
11. Think carefully about your post titles. I often come up with very cute titles, but scrap them in favor of something more boring but likely to draw in readers from a Google search. If you can word your post title in a way that exactly matches how people might search on Google, you’re likely to draw in more readers.
12. Always offer the reader something valuable. When using social media to promote your blog, never say “New post!” or “Visit my blog!” Try something like, “Today’s blog post shares 13 simple steps for improving your blog.” Or use a quote from your post, or you could post your blog question, and send readers to your blog to chime in with their thoughts.
13. Keep a running idea file. Make it easily accessible and jot down EVERY possible post idea you have. I keep one in Evernote so I can write down ideas on any of my devices, wherever I am. Once you’ve created an idea file and get in the habit of using it, you will find yourself looking at the world differently. Suddenly every experience is a possible blog idea! This can be your most valuable tool in increasing the attractiveness of your content.
All of these ideas are meant to help you create the most satisfying reading experience on your blog. You want readers to love visiting your blog, and look forward to coming back.
What strategies have YOU used to improve your blog? What good blog tips have you heard lately that you are willing to share?
Focus on content – not SEO strategies – to build your blog, says @RachelleGardner. Click to Tweet.
Be controversial. Be funny. Be targeted. Blogging tips from @RachelleGardner. Click to Tweet.
13 simple tips for a better blog, via @RachelleGardner. Click to Tweet.