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There are two types of bloggers: those who do it for fun, and those who want to monetize their efforts. If you’re part of the latter group, then you have a long list of challenges ahead – probably enough to keep you occupied for months.

Apart from constantly improving your blog’s design, you need an ongoing, adaptive content marketing strategy to stay ahead of the competition. Keep in mind that there are now over 75 million blogs powered by WordPress alone, with about 83.1 million posts being published each month. Rest assured that the top bloggers out there fight tooth and nail to hog all the attention, making life invariably harder for newcomers such as yourself.

If you ever want to cut through the content noise, you need more than just brilliant blog posts – you must also focus on the experience you provide your target readers to maximise their engagement rate.

It won’t be easy, but you can make this goal more manageable with the following tips:

1. Level Up Your Content Game

Content marketing experts agree that 2017 will be a tough year for new bloggers. With a massive amount of new content being published by the hour, you need to be extra creative and resourceful to stand out.

A popular strategy is to utilise visual content such as videos, gifs, and infographics to get your target audience’s attention. Not only will this make your posts more attractive, it will also make them more shareable on social media. Using infographics to supplement your written articles is also a great way to make data-rich information more digestible for readers.

To create your own visual content without hiring freelancers, you can use tools like Canva, Visual.ly, and Venngage. These platforms have a drag-and-drop interface that anyone can pick up within minutes. Lastly, don’t forget to use a relevant featured image in every blog post to quickly capture the attention of your target audience.

2. Spark Conversations

One way to make your audience feel more involved is to encourage them to participate in conversations. Sure, WordPress has a built-in comments system, but that feature lacks emphasis and cohesiveness with most WordPress themes.

To make commenting more seamless for your audience, you can use the Facebook Comments plugin to let them get straight into discussions using their Facebook accounts. This lets you take advantage of features such as likes, comment sorting, and user profile photos. It’s also important to encourage your readers to leave comments by the end of each post. At the same time, make sure to express your appreciation by responding to them and tending to those who require your assistance.

3. Build a Community

To lock in your audience’s engagement, you can utilise tools that let you foster a community within your blog. A platform like bbPress, for example, lets you create an exclusive forum section where users can sign up, discuss topics, and express themselves through their own profiles. Despite its features and customizability, bbPress is relatively easy to learn and use even if you don’t have prior web development experience.

Alternatively, you can use WordPress Simple Membership to offer exclusive blog content to different user levels. You could even create premium memberships where users can pay via PayPal to access high-level content.Remember that exclusivity raises perceived value, but it may also lead to disappointed customers if you fail to provide their money’s worth.

Don’t be too hasty when launching paid memberships and focus first on creating premium content. Some ideas include creating eBooks, webinars, presentations, and other downloadable content.

4. Shoot Them Offers

If your goal is to generate conversions, be it for newsletter signups or purchases, then it wouldn’t hurt to throw in additional incentives. In one case study by SkinnyMe Tea, a simple popup that offered a 5% discount boosted email opt-ins by as much as 758% and sales by 50%.

To roll out visually-appealing popup offers, you can use a comprehensive list-building tool like SumoMe, which also includes analytics tracking to help you fine-tune your strategy over time. The platform also lets you create a floating social media bar to make content sharing easier for your audience.

Offering an opt-in bribe may cost you more initially, but if you can deploy a non-intrusive way to expose your offers and provide perks that matter to your audience, then you will eventually hit your ROI goals.

5. Optimise with Heatmaps

If you’re an independent blogger or solopreneur, then it’s easy to get confused with in-depth analytics tools. With too much already on your plate, you can choose the easy way and opt for a heat map tool like Crazy Egg or Hotjar instead.

As far as blog design goes, it’s all about where your audience goes, what they look at, and why they leave. Heatmaps let you skip the number-crunching and focus on these performance indicators visually. It works by highlighting the page elements that garner the most clicks, as well as problem areas that are often left ignored.

Nothing about engagement and conversion rate optimisation is meant to be easy. The steps above may help you get started on the right track, but it’s not enough especially if you position yourself as a competitive brand. Your next goal should be to learn from more guides that enable you to continually grow your blog. If you have any other suggestions or resources you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment below!

Guest post by:

David Jones. David has been working in the online media industry for over 7 years. He writes about technical SEO for bloggers and is also a Python coding enthusiast. He also blogs at Bloggingtips.com and Spyrestudios.com and you can follow him on Twitter @davejonesbkk

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