The First 5 (Simple) Steps for Growing Readership on Your Blog

One of my posts last month, The Benefits of Blogging, received a number of valuable comments.
For anyone wondering about the value of blogging, this is a must-read
for the variety of perspectives.

The next question that naturally arises—after you decide to blog—is
how to gain readership. Before I mention specific tactics, 3 things to
remember:

  1. It takes time; this is a journey. Be patient. Results don’t come overnight.
  2. The
    more focused your blog is (the more it is driven by a specific
    purpose), the easier you will draw a readership. Sometimes it can take
    you 6-12 months to figure out what your blog is about. Read the Brazen Careerist for more on this important point.
  3. You have to be consistent in when you post, even if you don’t think you have enough readers for it to matter.

That
said, here are a few easy ways you can begin growing your reach. These
are meant to be simple, straightforward, and meaningfully accomplished
by anyone in the first months of blogging.

1. Comment on other blogs—blogs that you actively read and/or truly enjoy.
But don’t just comment, “Great post! Go read my blog.” Instead, make a
comment of substance that adds a resource, tip, or encouragement. Or
offer an opposing point of view. Make it a discussion, not a promotion
of yourself.

2. Be the No. 1 commenter on your own blog. Show your readers that you care and will take the time to respond and interact with them.

3. In your own blog posts, reference and link to other blogs/sites. Comment
on what other people are writing about, or summarize many viewpoints on
an issue. These other bloggers will discover you and might comment or
link to you.

4. If you’re on Twitter, then Tweet your blog posts. (You can use TwitterFeed
to do this automatically if you like.) If you’re not on Twitter,
consider that some sites/blogs see 30-50% (or more) of their traffic
coming from Twitter.

5. If you’re on Facebook, then use the NetworkedBlogs application
from within Facebook so that your Wall automatically updates and links
to your latest blog post. Your readers/fans can also use the
NetworkedBlogs app to follow your blog.

For more resources on growing your blog readership, try these helpful posts by experts Chris Brogan & Guy Kawasaki:

23 Elements of Sharable Blog Posts (Chris Brogan)

The 120 Day Wonder: How to Evangelize a Blog
(Guy Kawasaki)

Bloggers: What have you found to be most important or influential in growing your readership? Did you experience a tipping point?

Photo credit: Humanoide

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0 thoughts on “The First 5 (Simple) Steps for Growing Readership on Your Blog

  1. Jane Friedman

    @Philip – Thanks for the note. The points you make about search engines and organic growth – definitely I’ve seen that factor in when looking at Writer’s Digest blogs. Once awareness grows, people add you to blogroll, which leads to more accidental discoveries, and more readers. Fortune favors those who persevere, as you say!

    @Nicole – Love the business card tip. Not enough people do that. (And I also added my Twitter handle to my business card.)

  2. Nicole Feliciano

    Good list. I don’t do#2 very often and I should. Personality shines through on comments. I 100% agree abt. twitter (I’m @momtrends). It has given me a 20% traffic boost. My tips? Business cards and a catchy name. Promoting has helped me hit the mark of 20,000 views a month. My goal for December? 30,000 thanks to these ideas I think it is possible.

  3. Philip Martin

    I agree especially with the preamble note that it takes 6 or more months for a blog to develop a following. This reflects the time it takes 1) for you to figure out your own focus, voice, and unique position, 2) to build a body of a good number of posts with enough search-engine interest, and 3) to allow more people to find you organically. For some weeks or even months, it may seem like not enough people are listening, but winning blogs are by those who persevere and pace themselves, watch for which types of blog posts do attract more interest, and see it as an intelligent conversation with a community of like-minded people. Even if at first, the conversation may be a bit one-sided!

  4. Jane Friedman

    @Scott – I don’t think that’s a real danger, and Facebook would catch so much negative press if they did so that I can’t imagine they’d try. Their latest public statement says this:

    "We are not claiming and have never claimed ownership of material that users upload. The new Terms were clarified to be more consistent with the behavior of the site. That is, if you send a message to another user (or post to their wall, etc…), that content might not be removed by Facebook if you delete your account (but can be deleted by your friend). Furthermore, it is important to note that this license is made subject to the user’s privacy settings. So any limitations that a user puts on display of the relevant content (e.g. To specific friends) are respected by Facebook. Also, the license only allows us to use the info "in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof." Users generally expect and understand this behavior as it has been a common practice for web services since the advent of webmail. For example, if you send a message to a friend on a webmail service, that service will not delete that message from your friend’s inbox if you delete your account."

  5. Scott Eldredge

    I have a question in regards to the suggestion of linking to Facebook. There has been a lot of attention focused on the changes Facebook has made to their terms of use. As I understand it, Facebook reserves the right to take anything you post on your page, use it, repackage it, sell it, etc., without getting your permission or compensating you. So, that means that Facebook could take something like the blog that Julie Powell wrote, and then turn it into a book or movie without her permission. Is that true? Is that something bloggers should be aware of when they post?

  6. Hope

    I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years now.
    Commenting on other blogs increases readership. I especially try to get around to commenting on the bloggers who link to me and follow my blog.
    I look forward to reading the links in your post. There is always more to learn.

  7. Pam Harris

    I’m so glad that you offered tips. I just attended my first writers conference and the panelists informed us how important it is for even fiction writers to build a platform. In other words, if you can prove to agents and editors that you already have a decent following, they may be more prone to sign you. I’ve always been a bit shy, and I thought that the Internet would make me a bit bolder. Suffice to say, it has not. I have been blogging for my school’s website for 2 months now (I’m a school counselor), and can’t even get the parents and my co-workers to read it! Now I have the nerve to start my own writing blog, and made my first comment. I’m slowly but surely trying to figure out a way to increase my readership. If you don’t mind my shameless plug :), here’s the link to my writing blog: http://www.seepamwrite.blogspot.com. I figured I should start somewhere! :)

  8. Jane Friedman

    @Meryl – Great advice on Tweeting blog links. I have to admit that I used TwitterFeed for a while at @JaneFriedman, but just recently switched to more personal, hand-crafted Tweets.

    @Leon – I love Chris Guillebau’s message! But you’re right about the time needed to develop a following. It took Chris Brogan about 10 years to really break out in a huge way.

    Love your note about guest posts, too. It can be a huge help; I think L. Babuta of Zen Habits used that tactic to help gain traction.

  9. Leon Adato

    I’m relatively new to the full-time blogging scene (although I’ve been writing "news" type posts to small groups for years), but one article that helped me a great deal was "279 days to Overnight Success" over at "The Art of Non Conformity". Chris offered tips very much in the style of "The Cluetrain Manifesto".

    That having been said, it’s taken a lot longer than I had hoped to build up a decent "following". What has made a difference is that I’m doing the blog for myself so it’s not *as* important that I get thousands of hits per minute/day/hour/millenium.

    Along with the very sage advice to post regularly and get out there and participate in other blogs (the top two rules of a blogger, IMHO), I would say another key for me has been contacting other sites and offering to co-write something, create unique content for their site (with the agreement that my site get a mention) or re-posting my material.

  10. Meryl K Evans

    Been blogging for nine years; I tell ya that getting out to visit other blogs is important. Also, when tweeting your own blog entries — try to add a comment on why people would benefit from reading the post rather than just adding the title and link.

  11. Jane Friedman

    @Anittah – Personal voice – so true. That is something that took me a long time to learn. (I’m still learning!) I started to realize it when I posted my story about being stuck in Thailand. That one post generated more response and interest than nearly any other post in 2008.

    @Jane – It does take some effort to find the kindred spirits. But as you point out, worth the effort. :D

  12. Jane Koenen Bretl

    It is true — something as simple as commenting on other blogs has definitely helped increase my reach. I say simple, but it does take effort to find blogs that have similar interests and audiences, and to write thoughtful, or thought-provoking, comments. (I love the phrase "drive-by comments" because it is so accurate, and obvious, when it is done!) After trading some meaningful discussion, the other bloggers may also add me to their blogrolls, bringing in new readers over time.

    I also agree wholeheartedly with the Twitter and Facebook suggestions — those cross-posts drive a spike in my traffic every time, especially when the content is interesting or compelling enough that readers re-tweet them. I believe those social media links have been my most effective method of building readership to date.

    Thanks, Jane, for all the helpful links and reminders!

  13. Anittah Patrick

    I have found that an authentic, personable voice are very important — not only in blogs that I enjoy reading, but also in my own blog. When I try to be clinical / professorial / info-mercially, it turns people off (not only my friends IRL but also randos who stop by): the bounce rates are highest on my informative yet impersonal blog posts.

    I think it’s important to have a mix of info / personal posts however, particularly if the objective of your blog is to establish yourself as an expert in a particular domain. That said — no one wants to befriend a robot. Just ask Blade Runner! :)

    Finally, great post! Go read my blog!

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