You probably want more than your parents, relatives and friends reading your blog. They’re kind of obligated to do it and say nice things. If you love to write, are good at it, and have a strong purpose for a blog, writing your posts will be relatively easy. The tough part, which you already know, is getting a readership and continually expanding that reading audience.
Gaining a following is a gradual process. Fortunately, many have gone before you and paved the way. You can take advantage of their knowledge and use these 5 methods for expanding readership.
1. SEO – Yes, It Might Seem Scary, but You Can Do It
It’s as simple as this – you need to be “found” by people looking for the content and topics you write about. They look for content and topics through searches. You have to be found on those searches – and your goal is ultimately to be on the first page that comes up. This takes time, so be patient. Let’s say you sell fishing equipment and your blog is all about tips and information related to fishing in general and specific ways; you also have some humorous fish stories; you have included visuals. You have valuable stuff. People who are looking for this type of information will type certain words into their searches, and you need those words to be found in the posts you write.
Now, your job is to identify the words that people might type in for searches that relate to each blog post you write. Suppose you wrote a post on the best lures for bass fishing. The term “lures for bass fishing” or “best lures for bass fishing” is what you want search engines to find. So this is how it’s done.
• Create a meta description of 160 characters or less that provides a little snippet of what the post is about and that contains the keyword term you have selected. If you have WordPress platform and Yoast plugin, you will simply type in your meta description in the space provided.
• Make sure your keyword term appears in your content, maybe 2-3 times depending on the length of your post. Don’t “stuff” it in an unnatural way. Make it flow with the writing.
• If you have used images in your post, make sure you have used alt text for them. This means that you have provided a text description of the image (caption).
• Make sure that you have links within your posts to other pages on your website. When readers click through to those other pages, you get “brownie points” for your site from search engines.
There is a learning curve for SEO strategies, but this will get you started.
2. Promote Your Blog on Social Media
This is probably the best way to get traffic to your blog. Again, it takes time. Nothing is quick in this field of promoting content and getting readers/followers.
• Choose a couple of social media platforms that you know are popular with your audience.
• Post “teasers” and great headlines with links to the posts you are promoting. Use images and other visuals whenever possible. Post a survey or a poll asking readers to rank the best lures for bass fishing with a link for them to get the results of that survey on your blog.
• Hold a contest with a prize of the best lures you have found. They can get the details on a blog post you have written. Just provide the link to enter the contest. And once they take that link, make sure you get an email address as the “entry fee.”
• Content that is fun and engaging gets shared on social media. – give your posts intriguing or humorous titles. And if the audience gets to participate in something – all the better.
• Don’t just post the title – share some thought, quote, or even a catchy meta description with a link to the post.
• If what you offer engages the reader, chances are s/he will share it with his/her friends on social media – your community gets bigger with each share.
3. Create the Best Titles Ever
This deserves its own “point” in this business of growing a following. You can have the best content ever, but it is a title that will initially draw a reader. Think about it. When is the last time you were in a big box book store? Once you got to the section of books that you were looking for, what grabbed your attention? It will have been the wrapping, not the contents. Your titles are your wrapping, just as is the title of any book. When you find the title really intriguing, humorous, or engaging, you pick up that book and at least browse through it. And if readers find your title to be that way, they will at least click through to see what the post is all about.
• There are a lot of title generator tools and many of them are free. Just plug in a boring title and let the app do its work. Even if you don’t use an exact title that pops up, you will get some great ideas.
• Look at titles that your competitors are using. Can you re-work them into your own catchy title?
Here are a couple of specific tips:
• Use numbers in your title and/or sub-title
• If you have shocking data or a news item to share, incorporate that into your title.
• Use humor as much as possible
• Get them guessing – write a really quirky title and make the reader wonder what this post could possibly be about?
The authors of Freakonomics are great with their chapter titles (e.g., How are Prostitutes and Santa Claus Alike?). Upworthy has very compelling titles on Facebook. Search for great titles and get ideas for your own.
4. Get Some Guests to Post on Your blogs
Here is the best way to do this if you are an unknown just starting out. Go to a popular blog in your niche and find great posts that will appeal to your audience. Contact that writer and ask for permission to re-post his/her post on your blog. Most of the time, they will say “yes” because they like the exposure too. It’s a win-win for both of you. And you have a great post you can promote that drive traffic to your blog/website.
5. Make Sharing Easy
The way you get more followers is to have more follower know you exist. You need to make it easy for any reader to share your post with his/her communities. A simple plugin for WordPress will do the job. Choose the buttons you want and place them in strategic places. A lot of experts believe that scrolling sharing buttons is the best way to go. You can place the buttons on the left side of your content, and they will move down as a reader moves down through the post. In this way, when a point or an idea “hits home” with that reader, s/he does not have to search for those buttons. It’s a one-click deal, right there.
Tip: The most often shared content has visuals – get photos, infographics, etc. in your posts.
You’ve spent a lot of time on your blog; you are posting several times a week. That’s a big commitment. Don’t let that content go to waste – optimize, publish, promote, and share it, and get your readers to share it too.
Guest post by:
Daniela McVicker is a passionate blogger who spend a lot of free time to develop writing skills and create fabulous posts. She works as an editor on Smart Paper Help, follow Daniela on Twitter @danielamcvick
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