Laura Christianson of Blogging Bistro continues her series of
fantastic tips for social media and website management.
Since 2004, when I started blogging, I’ve read – and tried – just about every tip imaginable to lure readers. I could regale you with a list of 100 (or 1,000… or 10,000) tips to drive traffic to your blog, but I won’t. That’s because you have to do only three things to pump up your blog’s readership.
Ignore every steroidal article you stumble across that includes the words:
“INCREASE TRAFFIC TO YOUR BLOG 2000% IN 10 DAYS!!!!” (or something similar).
While it is possible to quickly make leaps in readership, for the vast majority of bloggers, readership increases at a slow, steady pace.
Forget the hype and get real. Here are the three basic, bottom-line things you need to do well—and consistently—to build your blog’s readership:
1. Format your posts for skimmers
There’s no bigger turnoff than a 400-word blog post that’s one endless paragraph. Well, maybe one bigger turnoff: a 400-word paragraph written in 8-point Courier.
Forget what your high school English teacher taught you about writing lengthy, detailed paragraphs. Instead, write like a journalist. Short sentences. Short paragraphs. Short words. Axe the jargon.
The white space between your paragraphs makes it easier for readers to hone in on subheads and other key words you want them to notice.
Include a graphic element in every post. Readers’ eyes are drawn to images; a visual that illustrates your point, placed in a consistent location in every blog post, will capture readers’ attention and draw them into your article.
2. Give ‘em your best stuff
Some bloggers – particularly those who blog to sell a product or service – believe in teasing their readers with juicy tidbits.
Then, just when their blog post starts to get interesting, they stop delivering the goods and start pitching their product.
“Sorry folks, you don’t get the rest of my earth-shattering information unless you spend $49.99 on my e-book; or $999 for my amazing, life-changing workshop.”
These shysters aren’t really sorry at all, are they? They’re evil, scheming marketers who only want our money.
To them, I say: You won’t hold me hostage. I’m boycotting your blog, your e-newsletter, and I’m blocking your e-mails.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel more inclined to buy from bloggers who give me useful information for free. They don’t have to give me everything – I understand they have to earn a living – but when they give me something, I begin to trust them. And once I trust them, I’m much more likely to pull out my American Express card when they ask me to buy.
3. Don’t check your visitor stats
Wait a minute, Laura. Did you just say, “DON’T check your stats?”
That’s right, I did. I know it sounds counterintuitive… how can you grow your blog if you don’t know how many people are visiting? But hear me out on this…
Too many bloggers obsess over their stats, checking them daily – or multiple times per day. If you’re like most bloggers, checking your stats daily will only discourage you (because most bloggers get fewer than 100 page views per day).
Why bother? Channel your energy into something more productive, like… say… blogging!
If you blog because you get a kick out of sharing what you’re learning or you love to entertain people, you’re on the right track. Don’t let the numbers (or lack of them) get you down. Focus on the craft of blogging, and you’ll soon discover that you have five loyal readers… then 50 loyal readers. And most bloggers would rather have 50 intensely loyal fans who anticipate every post than 5,000 ho-hum visitors who drop in every once in a while.
I challenge you to avoid looking at your visitor stats for a full month. Not even a peek!
For the next month, just have fun with blogging. Work on writing interesting, entertaining, easy-to-read articles formatted for skimmers. I’ll bet that after a month, you’ll notice a bump in traffic to your blog.
Try it and let me know how you do.
*Feel free to reprint this post on your own blog. I’ll be happy to e-mail you the HTML, so all you have to do is copy & paste, and the formatting will remain intact. If you reprint it, please include the following byline:
A relationship marketer for over 25 years, Laura Christianson owns Blogging Bistro, a company that helps people enhance their Internet presence through Websites, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. She’s the author of three books and enjoys mentoring emerging writers and teaching at writers’ conferences. An active member of NCWA since 2004, Laura lives in Snohomish with her husband, their two teenage sons, and two gigantic tomato plants.