For me, and a lot of other authors, the foundation of my platform is my blog. I recently wrote a little bit about why I started with a blog and not a website. You can read that here.
The first step on the path to blog success is driving readership. (Other steps are driving comments and subscribers, but we’re not there yet.)
Here are 6 tips for driving blog readership that I discovered in my day job as a marketing consultant and my work as an author:
#1 Have a theme – OK, so I don’t do this spectacularly well, but in my defense I do have a focus. I try to keep my posts to 18th century history, romance writing, and the occasional post about marketing books. I look at my blog as sort of like a stew—the ingredients are different, but they go together. Trust me, there are 100 other topics I’m tempted to write about, but I restrain myself because they just don’t fit. (That’s what Facebook is for.)
#2 Make your posts short – Long-winded posts lose readership, plus, posting isn’t so daunting when you realize you don’t have to write an 800 word essay every time.
#3 Write often – This is easier to do if you write short posts. I was posting several times a week when I initially started my blog. Once I got to about 50 posts, I found that I had developed a certain amount of momentum that could sustain me through those weeks when I couldn’t post as often. But that momentum doesn’t last forever. The uncomfortable truth for a lot of bloggers is that once a month posts don’t provide much of a return.
#4 Create great titles. Lists work really well if you’re offering advice. Just look at any women’s magazine (or men’s) and you’ll see how often lists get used. These paragons of publishing wouldn’t use them if they didn’t work. If a list doesn’t work for your subject, be creative—but not too creative. Blog titles that don’t give the reader a good idea of what your post is about get fewer click throughs.
#5 Use labels. Here I have to admit a little ignorance because I’m not sure how labels drive up my readership, I just know that they do. Theoretically, labels could be making me more visible to search engines, but I doubt it’s making that much of a difference this early in the life of my blog. It’s also possible that a reader who is interested in a topic such as the Constitution might click on that label to see what else I’ve posted under that subject. It’s also possible that these reasons plus a host of others I haven’t even thought of drive readership. I just know that my readership drops precipitously when I forget to add labels.
#5 Tweet your posts – If for no other reason, sign up for Twitter so you can tweet your posts. There’s more value to Twitter than that, of course, but if you don’t have an account yet, at let this at least drive you to explore the tool. If you’re just starting with Twitter, I wrote a post on 8 Twitter Tips for Writers that you can access here.
#6 Retweet your posts – Despite their name, your “followers” are not hanging on your every word like a bunch of groupies. You could retweet your posts once a month and no one would be the wiser. Those who happen to notice probably won’t care. The only ones that bug me are those Twitter users who are so blatantly and consistently self-promotional that I never click on their links anyway.
There are a couple other tips I planned to write about, but I’ve already blown tip #2 out of the water. I’ll leave it to you to add your ideas for driving blog readership. Let us know what’s worked for you. And be sure to ask questions. I’m always happy to share my ideas and opinions—as I’m sure other readers are as well.