Building Your Blog Readership Base

Want to get more readers for your blog? Maybe you’ve just started a new blog, or maybe you have run out of steam on your current blog because you don’t have a large readership. Whatever the case may be, there are tried and true methods to gaining new readers for your blog, and they’re just waiting for you to give them a try. Here we have pulled together a few of the really good ones…

Have quality content with a clear focus

Choose a clear, specific focus for your blog. So instead of a general “cooking” blog… you may choose to do “organic cooking on the cheap” or “gourmet meals even your 5 year old will eat.” Whatever your topic, hone in on what your passion really is, and make that your blog focus. Then do it better than anyone else. It’s also key to step back and evaluate whether there are enough prospective readers in your chosen niche. It’s better to be brutally honest with yourself than to toil away and end up disappointed.

Become a guest blogger

Ask a related blog if you can contribute a post to their blog. Contributing content to someone else’s blog may seem crazy when it’s YOUR blog you want to boost readership for, but it’s a solid strategy to gain exposure for your own blog and build your subscriber base. Just make it very clear to the blog owner that you require a very brief byline at the end of the post, which includes a link back to your own blog. And make sure it’s original content, not something recycled off of your blog. This way, you are contributing meaningful content to their blog (win for them) while gaining exposure to their readers (win for you).

Dedicated subscription landing page

The idea is to have one page whose sole purpose is to get people to subscribe. On this page, you want to use all your wiles to really convince them why they want to subscribe and then a really clear call to action (ie. SUBSCRIBE HERE! with a nice little RSS icon). This page can be linked to from the bottom of each of your blog posts with a simple line or two. “Did you enjoy reading this post? Be the first to find out when I post a new one.”

On your subscription page, you may also want to give a quick 411 on what RSS is and how it works for your less tech-oriented readers. You may want to make it clear that the “subscription” is free and allows new posts to automatically and conveniently “feed” or be delivered into your inbox, Google homepage or RSS reader of your choice, etc, etc.

More on subscription: Make it easy and obvious

You have gotten them to your blog… now make sure they come back! One of the best ways to secure readership for your blog is to secure visitors as loyal readers that will return again. Best way to do that? Getting them to subscribe to your RSS feed! Even if you don’t have a separate page to convince readers to subscribe, you will want to make your subscription options prominent. A link at the top AND bottom of your blog along with a “Subscribe here” call out and little orange RSS icon can do wonders. You can also ask for the subscription at the bottom of each post with a link.

Comment on Related Blogs

Even if you don’t contribute content to other blogs, you can leave a comment on related blogs to let that audience know that you exist… and better yet that your BLOG exists. Most blogs allow for a web address field for commenters, so you can just put your blog link in there. What you DON’T want to do, however, is just post solely for the purpose of advertising your blog. Make sure your comment is relevant to the topic of the post and contributes something meaningful to the discussion. Traffic to your own blog should be a side benefit and your secondary goal. If your comment is interesting enough, readers will click through to your website by instinct (no sell necessary).

READ ME! READ ME!

The title of each post should be powerful, effective, descriptive and clickable. They should draw attention and entice the reader to click it. Once you gain subscribers and your posts are feeding into their RSS reader or being delivered to their inbox, the title is what they are going to see. Depending on the title’s effectiveness, they will either click to read or not. You decide.

Side note: The title should always apply to your topic. Don’t let my “READ ME!” headline fool you. Your blog should never use titles that say this literally, but it should translate to your reader in that way. A better example would be something like: The MOST Toxic Human Food for Dogs

Whet Their Appetite

Once you have an effective title, you have a sentence or two to deliver. Make sure that your lead-in paragraph (before the “more…” link) is enough to tell them just enough to hold their interest but leave them wondering and wanting more.

For example, the above headline was for a blog post where the lead-in paragraph said: “It’s found in everything from cupcakes to toothpastes to nicotine gum. And it’s considered the most canine-toxic “human food” on the planet. No…It’s not chocolate.”

Some blogs come out and say “more after the jump” or you can leave them hanging with something like “and you’ll never believe what we used in her hair” or something to that effect. Something that has them saying, “Well, let me just click and see.”

Frequent Posting

Post! Post! Post! Be persistent! It can be too easy to give up on blogging when you feel as if you’re talking to no one. As you’re building up your blog readership base, be aware that it takes time. Use that time to turn your blog into the killerest blog you can. Post often with interesting, engaging, relevant content. That way when people find your blog, they won’t say, “yeah, seems interesting, but they don’t seem to update very often.” Take a long-term approach to your blog, and keep in mind your original spark and vision for your blog. They say the first 1,000 subscribers are the hardest to obtain. Treat every visitor with the same service you would if you had thousands of subscribers. You’ve done the work to get them there; now your blog should deliver with current, frequent information.

This Month’s Giveaway

Free stuff is always a big draw for people, so if you have a blog that lends itself to giveaways from time to time, that is a great way to gain some extra attention and encourage activity. I have seen many different bloggers make the only qualifier to win a giveaway that you must comment on their post. This can also be a great encouragement to you when you see all the traffic you are actually getting from people who might not otherwise comment on your posts. But throw in something free (granted, it has to be something that people want), and they’re all over it.

Have A Personality

Keep in mind that a blog is supposed to be casual. You are supposed to be opinionated. You are supposed to make up words that don’t exist. You are supposed to say things that everyone might not agree with. Controversialness (and yes I made that word up) can be your best friend, so feel free to state your opinion loudly, but encourage opinions from the opposing side as well.

Even if you’re not being overly opinionated, let your personality shine through. Write as if you’re talking to your audience one-on-one. Leave all the grammar rules you learned in English class at the login screen, and just express yourself freely on the topic of choice.

Search Engine Optimization

Most blogs have a place to input your title, description and keywords for each post. These make no difference to the way your post appears on your blog, but they make a huge difference for Google and other search engines. You want to tell the search engine spiders what your post is about, and you want to tell search engine users why they should click to read on.

If you do not currently see SEO title/description/keyword options when you post, look into your settings, and make sure these are enabled. They are more important than you can imagine.

Keywords are key here. Repeat the same primary keywords in your meta title, description, and keywords fields as well as in the text of your blog post itself (and your blog post title if you can). Most times, this comes almost naturally, and after you get the hang of it, it will become second nature to you.

Make A Splash

Get some attention for your blog however you can. Let your Facebook friends or fans know that you just posted a new blog post and provide a link. (Keep in mind, even though blogging might be a big part of your life, it is usually not top-of-mind awareness for your friends and fans). Announce your new post on Twitter. Submit your link to Digg, reddit and other social media giants and hope for the best. Even if it doesn’t make front page, you may gain some readers from it. Send an email to your friend and ask her to share with her friends who might be interested, etc. The point is to spread the word, and use what you have available at your fingertips to do so. You will be surprised how powerful you really are.

That Works!

When analyzing your stats or admiring the amount of comments you got on a particular post, take note. If something works, keep doing it! You may find there are certain types of posts, topics or questions that work particularly well with your readership. Once you learn those, try to recreate conditions like that to help increase readership.

On the other hand, if you notice a certain topic or headline that seems to get NO traffic or attention, steer clear of it for the future. Blogging is learning as much as it is writing.

Invite Guests to Contribute

Earlier, we talked about contributing to other blogs for more exposure, and this is just the opposite but can have the same effect. Having an expert in your field contribute something useful can not only be a big draw for readers, but that expert will likely do some promotion of his/her own once the article is live, doubling your efforts for exposure and obtaining new readers and subscribers by reaching a new audience.

Post 1 of 6: Keep ‘Em Coming Back

Build anticipation. Give readers a reason to come back and/or subscribe to your blog. For example, create series of interesting posts. At the bottom, provide a teaser for the next day’s/week’s post and a “don’t forget to subscribe” link so they don’t miss it.

A Call To Action For Comments

Disagree with me? Tell me why.
Do you have any additional tips for the first-time mom?
Questions and calls to action at the end of each post will spur comments. These comments will make readers feel a part of the blog, and just as importantly, it will entice newbies to subscribe. Often the most successful blogs post a paragraph or two and then let the commenters have at it. People can spend lots of time reading through comments, replying to people and checking back later to see what others wrote, etc. It invites conversation and contributes to reader interest, which is key.

Good luck!

I hope you have found these tips helpful, and I would love to hear if you have implemented these and how they are working for you. Please use the comment field below to let us know if you have other tips that have worked for you. Good luck, and happy blogging!

About Sara Mannix

Sara Mannix is the CEO of Mannix Marketing, Inc., a Digital Marketing Agency headquartered in Glens Falls, NY. She founded Mannix Marketing in 1996 with a goal to get clients "found" on the web through organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The company now serves over 1500 clients worldwide and employs a team of nearly 30 specialists, still operating under the tagline "We Get You Found On The Web." This multifaceted company is an industry leader, specializing in organic SEO, Conversion Rate Optimization, SEO-friendly Website Design, Online Advertising, Social Media and more. Mannix Marketing also has one of the largest portfolios of tourism and city guides in Upstate New York. These guides, which include Albany.com, Saratoga.com, LakeGeorge.com, GlensFallsRegion.com, CliftonPark.com and Adirondack.net, reach over 10 million visitors a year. Corresponding social media profiles for the region extend this reach to millions more on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.