Whether you’re building a blog as a means of launching your own business, using it as a promotional tool to display your freelance portfolio, or even creating a new social media hub, it can be tricky getting the right people to see it.
It’s important to regularly accrue new visitors to your blog, and it’s even more important to keep them coming back. Having recurring visitors will transform your blog from a one-person show to a vibrant community.
Know your Audience
The first step is perhaps one of the most important.
Before you even write your first blog post, take a minute to sit back and think about who your target audience is. Who you’re talking to will affect everything from the tone you use to what the layout you pick and the subjects you cover.
Decide what you want to talk about and who is most likely to be interested in hearing about it. Then, tailor your posts to directly engage with your target demographic on a meaningful level.
Keep Post Sizes in Mind
Once you know your audience, try to figure out the best average post length for yourself.
Generally, blog readers like posts that feel substantial without feeling too long. A paragraph or two might feel like there’s no valuable content, but somewhere around 500-700 words is generally a good length. Anything too long, you risk losing the reader.
But all of this will depend on your readers. Check similar, popular blogs and see what kinds of posts your ideal readers are responding well to.
Tag your Posts
These days, many popular blogging sites like WordPress offer the ability to tag posts, similarly to Twitter’s hashtag.
Tagging your posts is important not only to make your site easier to navigate (allowing readers to only view posts about a certain topic), but it will make your blog easier to find to potential readers searching for what you’re talking about.
It’s important to tag the most accurate, relevant things about a post. Tagging one-hundred different terms will just become a mess, but using specific, targeted key words will drive visitors to your site.
Foster a Sense of Community
You may be the one writing the blog posts, but the readers who follow your work are the ones who will keep you afloat. Actively engage with the readers to create a true sense of community.
Don’t be afraid to ask them what kind of posts they’d like to see in the future. As always, you’re the editor, the owner, and have the final say on what you will or won’t do, but being able to tailor your content specifically to the readers will keep them coming back.
Consider other ways of interacting as well. You can have relevant polls on your blog, and ask questions about what your readers think. Encourage people to comment and help shape the community themselves.
Reply to Comments
Step four goes hand-in-hand with step five.
Building a sense of community means nothing if you’re not actively a part of that community. Whenever possible, engage with the people who are leaving comments and share in the joy of the discussion.
It may be best to leave negative comments alone, as that kind of thing can quickly explode and drive people away, but do comment with any productive, helpful, or friendly thoughts you have wherever possible and help to encourage people to talk more.
Give People a Way to Subscribe
You could potentially lose out on a good portion of recurring readers just because they leave your page and don’t easily find a way back. There are a thousand other things to do on the Internet and you can’t always compete with that.
What you have to do is find a way to make yourself as accessible as possible, instead.
There are a few different ways to handle subscriptions. You could put a link on your site that will let people easily subscribe to an RSS feed, or you could set up a mailing list so that people get an e-mail any time something new is posted.
Sites like WordPress also offer built-in subscriptions for readers, so it’s just a matter of finding the widget and adding it to your blog’s layout.
Keep Track of Statistics
Take the time to either familiarize yourself with your blog’s built-in statistic tools, or find one (like StatCounter) that you can add to the code of your page, if your blog doesn’t have one already.
These statistics provide valuable insight into who your readers are. With these tools, you can see at a glance what posts are attracting the most attention and what search terms people are using to find your blog. You can also find out what isn’t working.
With this information at hand, you can tailor your future posts to capitalize on your successes.