NCWA welcomes Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent for Books & Such! See end of post for links.
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 first on improving 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. Make sure every post contains a single main idea. It can be supported by related ideas, but do not ramble. One idea.
3. Keep your posts brief. As little as 300 words can make a good blog post. Try not to go over 500 words, occasionally 600 but don’t do longer posts too often.
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. Use bullet points or numbered lists when it makes sense; this is just another way to create a simple and positive reading experience.
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. It can also get you more “shares” and more traffic.
8. Use at least one image in every post. I recommend you acquire them legitimately through stock photo websites. I use iStockPhoto and 123RF.
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. Make it easy for readers to comment. Don’t make them sign in or jump through other hoops. Most of the time, they’ll just skip it.
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. When using Twitter and Facebook to promote your blog, never say “New post!” or “Visit my blog!” Always offer the reader something valuable. This might be “Today’s blog post teaches 13 simple steps for improving your blog.” Or it could be a quote from your post. Or you could post your blog question on Twitter and Facebook, and send readers to your blog to chime in with their thoughts.
13. Always keep a running idea file. Make it easily accessible and jot down EVERY possible post idea you have. I keep one on my computer which is also accessible on my phone so I can write down ideas on-the-go. 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?
P.S. I broke one of my rules today; this post is 694 words!
© 2012 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent
This post first appeared August 20, 2012 on Rachelle Gardner’s blog. Reposted by kind permission.
Rachelle Gardner is an agent with Books and Such Literary Agency, representing both fiction and non-fiction. She’s looking for mainstream commercial projects for both the Christian and general markets. In non-fiction and memoirs, she looks for authors with established platforms, strong marketing hooks and an understanding of how to use social media. Non-fiction authors must have a book proposal and three sample chapters to be considered. She’s also seeking all kinds of fiction, and authors must have a completed manuscript to be considered.
Rachelle’s blog and homepage: www.rachellegardner.com
Agency website: Books & Such Literary Agency