Building a blog audience. Every blogger – varsity or alumni – faces this issue. Whether the end goal is to build traffic in terms of sheer numbers, quality engagement levels or loyal, return followers, we’ve all had to ask ourselves (and often each other): How can I build a blog audience?
It’s a loaded question and depending on who you ask, there are about a bazillion different answers. I think one thing we can agree on, however, is that it takes a serious commitment to do so. Just because you build a blog, doesn’t mean they will come. In fact, they’re quite unlikely to. With so many other blogs out there, promoting their sites and doing it well, you need to work to build your blog audience and stand apart from the crowd by producing quality content.
That’s right. Content (How sick are you of hearing about content in this series??). Building a blog audience is entirely about content production in all its abundant forms. After many years of serious blogging, I’ve discovered what will drive traffic to your site in droves and what simply doesn’t. Here are my top 5 methods you can employ right now to build a blog audience, increase traffic, leverage quality engagement levels and nurture loyal, returns followers so your blog gets bigger, your brand awareness grows and ultimately so you see a return on your investment and make money blogging.
1. Create quality content on your blog. Obviously.
What this means can vary from blog to blog in terms of length of posts, topics, frequency, etc… But the main idea is that you write, photograph and share stuff that has value for your readers. We’ve talked about it before in this series but it’s worth repeating: create quality content on your blog because that’s how Google is indexing sites now. Sure, in-post SEO is great. But mostly, share what you publish in a coherent, person-centered way and people will come back for more. Be human. Write like R2D2 is your core audience and no one will come back. I promise.
And then comment some more. And then some more. Comment until you’re blue in the face and you hate everything about blogging and you chuck your computer under a dump truck. Okay, maybe not quite that much. Blogging should be fun, after all. Commenting is one of the most time consuming and at times, frustrating, ways to promote your blog. It’s also the most effective. By thoughtfully commenting (i.e. showing that you’ve read the post) on someone else’s site, you not only leave a direct link back to your own site that they – and their audience – can follow, but you also:
A. Demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.
B. Invest your attention in their content. The moment you give someone a pay-off for what they’ve done, you’ve given them a reason to be interested in you. This often leads to them returning the favour because ultimately, they want you to come back to them and invest more. It sounds selfish. And it is. But it consistently drives traffic back to your site and you’d be surprised at the relationships that this kind of commenting can create.
Note: On WordPress.org you can install a free comment reply plugin on your site so when you reply to comments that people leave on your blogs posts, it sends the reply in an alert to the commenter’s inbox. This creates a dialogue because they know you’re listening and thus feel validated and encouraged to return.
3. Be Social.
Write guest posts, ask others to write them for you, get on the social media and learn how to do it right. And when I say “learn how to do it right”, I mean it. Doing it wrong is worse than not doing it at all. In effect, social media IS digital marketing. Marketing is an extension of your brand. This means you need to represent and deal with social media as an arm of your overall brand schema. Like it or not, this is where the people are. If you want to build a blog audience in a productive and successful way, you have to form relationships. You have to be social.
Note: Be sure you’re not only sharing your new posts but also writing updates in ways that speak with your audience, not at them. Share their content too. Just like commenting, this is one of the best ways to generate leads, traffic and connections. See “B” of point 2.
4. Keep doing it. Consistently. For a long ef’n time.
Success comes with time. Create your blog, make sure the design is great, make a posting and promotion schedule, try using a program like Hootsuite to help with social media updates, and once you’ve developed a good collection of posts, keep doing it. Longevity is as important as quality content in this sense. If you’re using the above methods to create and promote yourself, in time, you will become THE presence in your industry. Or at least one of them. You want to build you audience? Commit.
5. Buy them.
If all you care about is the actual number of hits or followers, you can buy them. But 99 words of caution: 100,000 followers without quality engagement means nothing. Not true. Means a lot. But not in the way you want it to. It will not increase your Google ranking, it will not entice real people to follow you, and to be honest, when I see someone has a ridonculous amount of followers or likes without a whole lot of authentic engagement, I’m suspicious. I click away and I don’t come back. And I’m not the only one. It’s more important to your potential readership if you have only 73 likes on Facebook and your content gets shares and comments than if you have 20,000 and nothing is happening on your page.
Note: this is why tools like Google Friend Connect and other blog follower apps are obsolete, outdated and really just make your blog look amateurish. Get rid of them. Focus on getting people to share your content and comment on your posts.
What do you do to promote your blog posts? What gets you the most traffic? Do numbers matter to you? Is return traffic more important? What inspires comments? How do you build your audience? What doesn’t work? Share your thoughts below! Be social!
In the meantime, read:
- Part 1: 10 Reasons Why You Need A Blog
- Part 2: 7 Easy Steps to Start A Blog
- Part 3: How To Create A Blog Schedule (Free Printables!)
- Part 4: How to Write Great Shit (& Own It!)
- Part 5: How to Build Your Blog Audience
- Part 6: 10 Things your Blog Should Definitely Have (Free Infographic!)
- Part 7: Keep Your Blog Fresh!
- Part 8: What NOT To Do To Your Blog
- Part 9: Beyond Blogging: What To Do Moving Forward
- Part 10: How to Do It: Free Ebook for Entrepreneurs, Bloggers and Brands!