Whether we admit it or not, most of us like having people stop by our blogs and read our posts. We get discouraged if we take the time to write up a thoughtful post and then have a dismal showing. When we consistently get very little response from others, we may even begin to question whether we should blog at all.
Lorena asked this question: "A group of writers and I have started a blog, but we’re new at this and don’t know how to generate traffic. Any suggestions?"
In other words, how do we get people to know about our blogs, stop by and read them, and then keep coming back?
In my experience with blogging, here’s the NUMBER ONE factor in generating traffic:
Socialize with other bloggers.
Remember, blogging is a SOCIAL media, just like twitter or facebook. And social media works best when we use it to socialize. With the millions of blogs out there, we can’t throw out a post, sit back, and wait for people to stumble upon it. Effective blogging just doesn’t work that way, unless we already have a well established brand.
Instead, most of us will need to go out and meet other bloggers, be generous with signing up to follow blogs, leave comments, and genuinely show interest in the lives of others. When we work at being a friend, we’re likely to make some.
The socialization aspect of blogging is the most important one. I’ll list a few other things that have worked for me. But, in reality, if we’re socializing and not doing anything else, we’ll still likely develop a good following over time.
However, for those wishing to generate even more traffic beyond the usual socializing mixture of bloggers, here are a few other suggestions:
Know our target audience.
Before publication writers will have a difficult time drawing true genre readers to their blogs. So most of the time, writers end up using their blogs to chronicle their writing journey, to share from their hearts, and to build community. And that’s okay. That’s what I’ve done. But if we have a more specific audience we can target, then we can begin to build up a base of future readers who will be interested in our specific books. We can ask ourselves, who is the audience for our books and how can we start to mingle with those people in blogging land now?
Keep our posts interesting and relevant.
Often the way a post is presented is more important than the actual topic. In other words, maybe we won’t have a specific audience at this point, but we can still write compelling blog posts that interest a wide readership. We can attract people through our story-telling and word-spinning abilities no matter what the subject.
Interact with commentors, if possible.
If we have the time to interact within the comments, this can help make our readers feel connected. But if we don’t have the time, we can still jump into the conversation at times, make sure we answer questions, send follow-up emails occasionally.
Use the title of the post as a hook.
In the hectic pace of life, we often can’t make the time to visit all the blogs we follow. So we pick those that sound interesting or helpful—often because of the title. Crafting careful, appealing titles might be the only chance we’ll have to draw busy readers to our blogs.
Tweet about relevant posts. (Or post to Facebook.)
If we’re taking the time to write interesting posts with titles that hook, then we can make use of twitter or facebook to share the link to our posts. On Twitter, hashtags are a great way to draw in new people. For example, when I’ve done posts about being a writer mama, I’ve used the hashtag #parenting which sends the link to people interested in parenting advice or encouragement.
Have a way for readers to easily share your posts with others.
We should all have "share buttons" at the tops or bottoms of our posts. Then when readers like what they read, we’ve made it easy for them to share it with their followers. (Blogger now has simple buttons available in "Edit Layout.")
Find ways to give and to involve readers.
Giving could be something as simple as inspiration and encouragement. It could be prizes, book giveaways, or resource links (like my Character Worksheet posted in the sidebar). We should also be on the lookout for creative ways to involve our readers. I’ve had fun posting first-sighting pictures in a slide show in my sidebar and also blog reviews on my debut book.
~Summary: Throughout it all, I still believe socializing is the key in drawing readers to our blogs. Eventually we may reach a place in our blogging where enough people know about us and our blogs that we won’t need to put as much effort into it. But for most of us, the relationships we develop are what make blogging such a rewarding experience.
What about you? What has been THE most helpful thing you've done to generate traffic to your blog? Are there any other ways bloggers can attract more readers? Please share your ideas! We'd all love to learn more!