You’ve created a blog editorial calendar that rocks. You write compelling blog posts, and you write them regularly. You’re poised to answer comments and engage with readers. Except there’s one problem. The only sound you’re hearing? Crickets.
So what gives? How do you attract readers to your blog? Here are 10 tips.
1. Add an email subscription button. Thanks to smartphones, people are never far from their email, and it’s become one of the easiest ways to read and follow popular blogs. Place the button in a prominent place at the top of your blog. Growing your email subscriber list is critical because every time you publish content, an email will be delivered to the person’s inbox, reminding them about your company.
2. Add a “subscribe to our blog” field on all website forms. If someone takes the time to fill out a form on your website, he or she is showing some level of interest in what your business has to offer. So it would make sense to attempt to engage the person further by asking him or her to subscribe to your blog. Sure, some will say no. But for those who say yes? Score! HubSpot actually increased its email subscriptions over 125% by doing this.
3. Experiment with how the email subscriptions render in people’s inboxes. Do you want the complete blog post to show up in the person’s inbox? Or do you want to provide only a portion of the post with a “read more” link? While it’s great if some people click through to your site for the full article, what about the folks who don’t? A happy medium is providing the complete blog post in the email and making sure the post includes an irresistible offer that invites people to click through. Again, experiment and see what gets you the most engagement in the long run.
4. Ask people to subscribe or follow. Many people might be interested in following your blog if only they knew it existed. This is why you need to ask for the “sale” directly. Tell people you have a blog and ask them to subscribe to it. While you shouldn’t make yourself a pest, you will need to ask more than once, especially in places where the audience grows over time (like social media) since some of these folks might not have heard your original request.
5. Experiment with how you position your blog and what you call it. Will the word “blog” resonate with your audience? Instead of calling it a “blog,” maybe you call it something else like “Article Junction” or “Tips ‘n Tricks.” You’d want to make this name change in the navigation on your website and any other places where you use the word “blog.”
6. Remember this adage: give and you shall receive. If you want people to visit, subscribe, and comment on your blog, then you should do these things on other people’s blogs. Note: this takes time and dedication. Doing a “drive-by” (where you simply leave one hollow comment like “Nice post”) won’t get you far. But taking the time to follow blogs and leave meaningful (non-promotional) comments is a great way to get noticed by the blog owner as well as other people who comment on that particular blog.
The key with this strategy is authenticity. You need to be genuinely interested in following the blogs, commenting, and sharing, without any expectation anyone is going to do the same for you. That said, if you do this enough—give generously and authentically in the blogging community—then chances are good that people will do the same for your blog. Again, this takes time and effort, and it won’t result in hundreds of followers overnight. But it could result in some good exposure and some people who leave interesting comments on your blog.
7. Advertise certain posts on Facebook. When we say “advertise,” we mean it: set up ads, define your target audience, and promote specific blog posts. You should use this strategy for your strongest content. Make sure the blog post includes a compelling call-to-action as well (and keep track of conversions so that you can accurately measure the ROI). This doesn’t have to be a big expense. You could promote a variety of blog posts over the course of a month for as little as a few bucks a day.
Another strategy: you can pay Facebook to “boost a post.” So if you do a status update with a link to your blog post, you can “boost” it for a certain amount of money so that that status update will show up in more people’s newsfeeds.
8. Don’t assume that no comments means zero readers (in other words, check your analytics). You shouldn’t measure the success of your blog based on the number of comments your posts receive. Many posts, especially in the world of small business blogs, are educational. They don’t necessarily inspire comments; people are there to learn (whereas other types of blogs, like political blogs, spark debate and lengthy comment trails as a result).
Also, if email subscribers get the whole blog post in their email, they might not be interested in taking the extra step of clicking through and leaving a comment. The way to know if your blog is effective is the same way you gauge the effectiveness of your other web pages: by examining your analytics. Measure page views, bounce rates, how people are finding certain topics etc. You might be surprised to learn your blog is one of your most trafficked sections on your site, even if most posts don’t garner any comments.
9. Schedule a “top stories” post every weekend. Let‘s face it: we’re all busy. Even if we’re interested in reading a specific blog post, we might forget about it, accidentally delete it, or push it to the bottom of our inbox, thanks to the crush of other emails. It happens. That’s why a smart practice is to get in the habit of creating a weekly post that “rounds up” the articles from the past week.
This provides another opportunity to get your content in front of people, especially those folks who are interested but who never got the chance to read your posts during the week. Don’t simply list the titles, either. Provide a little intro and some background info. Here’s an example of what HubSpot does every weekend.
10. BE PATIENT. Just because you build it, that doesn’t mean they’ll come. At least, not right away. Blogging is a long-term commitment and investment. It takes time to build a blog rich in compelling content, and it takes time for people to find and follow your blog.
How about you? What strategies have you used to get people to discover and follow your blog? Share in the comments!