Step 1: Create a Unique Voice
The first stage in increasing visitors to your blog is deciding what your blog is. If you’re a parent blogger, there are a thousand other parent blogs out there – why should I read yours?
That sound intimidating but the best advice I can give is to make your blog YOURS. Write about things that you genuinely find interesting, or funny, or infuriating and there will be an audience out there that shares your perspective. I remind myself that if I think that hanging a monkey out of a car window is amusing, someone out there will feel the same way. Or they’ll disagree completely – which is just as much fun.
I also advise bloggers to write as close to the way they talk as possible – use your voice, your words, your style – it will make your blog unique, without you needing to try things for effect. Blogs that aren’t authentic are almost never as engaging as those where readers feel they can connect with the author.
Once you have a voice and an opinion, think of what your blog is. Can you describe it in a sentence? Consistency will help you build an audience better than jumping from one idea to another. My blog, for example, is about ‘bad parenting and weird kids’. So you know what to expect from my posts. Other blogs have a point of view, or offer advice, or provide information to a specific community. There’s no one ‘right’ way to do this stuff.
Step 2: Join in with a Community
Personally, I think there’s a bit too much focus sometimes on being part of a ‘community’ in blogging. Sure, I blog partly for the community, and I think connecting with other bloggers on forums like Blogger.Ed can provide great friendship and lots of advice and support for bloggers – but ultimately I want non-bloggers to read and enjoy my blog, too. Still, when you’re new, being active in the community helps to raise your profile and bring you new readers. Things to try include:
- Commenting on other blogs – try to read a few posts rather than drive-by commenting
- Linking to other blogs in your posts – especially people you admire
- Take part in carnivals and workshops – good way to build up links and discover new blogs
- Use Twitter to get to know other bloggers – and to promote your own blog content
- Use LinkedIn and Facebook to build your network – a community doesn’t just mean other bloggers, you can access a wider online community, too
- Offer guest posts to other blogs – look for a blog with an audience that’s 75% different to your own for the best results.
Step 3: Make your Content Sticky
Having a sticky site doesn’t mean having adult content – it just means visitors stick around to read more after looking at one post or page. Simple ways of making a blog stickier include:
- Highlight your best content with links and buttons (“My Top Ten Posts”)
- A clean design that lets people see plenty of content on one screen
- Keep key content above the fold, so it’s visible without people scrolling down
- Use LinkWithin or ‘you might also like’ at the end of posts to automatically suggest similar posts to readers
- Respond to comments - it’s simple, but it’s the best way to make people engage with you and your site
- Flag upcoming content to keep people coming back – post things in 2 parts, promote upcoming competitions, ask a question and say you’ll write a follow-up based on the comments
Step 4: Promote your Content
The greatest blog in the world needs a little PR to ensure the world knows about it. Use social media to let people know about your new content:
- Use Twitter to promote new posts on your blog – but I’d advise against auto-Tweets
- Register your blog with Networked Blogs to let people read in Facebook
- Add ‘bookmark this’ and ‘share this’ buttons to your posts
- Add your blog name to your website, email, business card, stationery – anywhere you can think of!
- Link in to larger brands and organisations when you review their products – Tweet them a link, or post your review on their
- Facebook page
Step 5: Search Engine Optimisation
- SEO always sounds scary but it really just means creating content that people will find when using search engines.
- Create titles that describe your content well for search engines – How to Organise a Sleepover, Things to do in Manchester with Kids, for example.
- Use link clusters within your blog – I’ll post about this in more detail next week, but this means if you write a post about ‘sleepovers’ then ensure you link to that post elsewhere on your blog, and make the hyperlink text ‘sleepovers’.
- Always make your links include the post title NOT just a number (as is often the case with Wordpress blogs)
- Use categories to help optimise your content for search – use the category names to help describe the content of your blog.