Optimizing Your Blog and Content
If you care enough to make sure that everything you post is top quality, you’re already headed in the right direction. It’s just not doing anyone any good if they haven’t found it.
Have you put any thought into making yourself easier to find? Much of this has to do with the people you mention and the ones who mention you. The blogging world is basically one big conversation, of which you become a greater part as you engage in discussions with more of your fellow bloggers.
Don’t simply discuss how much you love a certain writer — give them a shout out by linking their site! Other bloggers in your niche have hordes of experience that you can trade. You can communicate through guest posts, referrals, blog roundups, friendly comment interaction, live chats, social media, and other venues.
Of course, if you link to others just because they have many readers and you hope they’ll return the favor, you’re probably wasting your time. Famous bloggers don’t have the leisure to review every blog that mentions them, nor to see if it’s quality enough to return the favor. Instead of wooing the big names, focus on building relationships at your current level.
Don’t stop at building relationships with bloggers! Make your post stand out enough that readers will go to your blog versus a competitor. Two unsung heroes that will get you far if you do them right are the timing of your posts and the design of your blog.
According to Marketing Tech, you’ll want to publish posts around 9:30 am on Mondays and Thursdays. It’s good to have some backup posts pre-written and ready to release on especially busy weeks, but timely posts about extremely recent/current events are ideal to write as often as your email newsletter subscriptions can.
In terms of design, an attractive, modern layout will get you far more engagement than one that’s hard to read, or that looks like it was coded in the early 2000s. Prominently featured (not obnoxious) social media links and calls to action for readers to subscribe are great for building interest. If your call to action is decisive and hints at the value you offer your readers, it’s more likely to get results — namely, email newsletter subscriptions. And, as you probably already know, posts with pictures do better than those without any visual elements.
Strategies and Tactics to Implement
You can’t go wrong when you’re writing about what you love. That in itself makes your blog entertaining since enthusiasm is contagious. Figuring out how to make your awesome content work for you is the next step.
While you should do what excites you first, your blog will see a drop in visits if it becomes too navel-gazing. Find out what your readers want to see, and write about that as well. This shouldn’t be difficult; your visitors are probably already interested in your specialty and want to see your take on it. A good way to get ideas is to visit similar blogs and see what kinds of comments recur — and on what posts. Is there a big issue or tricky question that a lot of people would want to be covered? Take a stab at addressing such topics yourself, listen to your readers’ feedback (which you already know to ask for at the end of your posts), revise, and repeat.
A good way to get ideas is to visit similar blogs and see what kinds of comments recur — and on what posts. Is there a big issue or tricky question that a lot of people would want to be covered? Take a stab at addressing such topics yourself, listen to your readers’ feedback (which you already know to ask for at the end of your posts), revise, and repeat.
Posting consistently is another unmistakable tactic for retaining readers. People like some predictability in their lives; that’s why it’s so frustrating when the grocery store gets rearranged and your favorite peanut butter is no longer next to the salad dressings.
Releasing posts regularly and reliably trains your viewers to keep coming back at the same time, where they are always rewarded with another excellent read.
For more inspiration, check out this blog post (and anything else by Neil Patel) on the art of blogging.
Ensuring the Return of Loyal Readers
Building reader loyalty is a lot like building customer loyalty in retail: it’s all about treating your guests the best that you can. Are there any giveaways or reader features you could do to reward your most faithful visitors? Do you go beyond your blog itself to engage with those who reach out to your social media presence?
Find a brand-appropriate way to make your readers feel like VIPs since your blog is now part of your personal brand.
A huge way to keep readers coming back is to get them to sign up for your emails. We know, the last thing anyone wants is an even more cluttered inbox. But if you can write a smashing email that doesn’t feel like clutter to its signed-up recipients, everybody wins. Recipients get content that they want, and you get another guaranteed reader every time someone signs up.
To make people more comfortable giving you their email addresses, get your site verified by a security service. Also, include an easy-to-find pledge that you don’t sell (or give) any personal info to third parties — right next to your easy-to-find subscription box.
Know the essentials (good design, nice photos or illustrations, well-spaced paragraphs, clear line of thought) from the nonessential (impressive/overwhelming length, masterful command of arcane speech patterns, updates twice a day, recommendations from celebrities). No one expects you to be the blog version of Tolstoy, and you shouldn’t either.
Your readers won’t become loyal because your presentation is convincingly majestic; they’ll stick around if what you say is useful and they like how you say it. The best way to achieve this is to do what everyone told you from middle school up: “Just be yourself.”
What has your blogging journey been like so far? We’d love to hear about your experiences and lessons you’ve learned — leave us a comment below!
Katherine Halek is the lead advertising and print strategy advisor at Signazon and Easybanners.com, leading online printers that provide marketing collateral for thousands of publishers around the United States. Katherine enjoys writing about blogging, content marketing, and the ins and outs of freelancing. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+