Building readership on our new blog, set up this year, compared to the The Edublogger in 2008 – has fascinated me.
It has really highlighted the extent of our changing blog reading habits!
These do have implications for building our readership!
So what have I learnt?
We’ve changed how we use RSS
There’s been considerable chatter the past year that RSS is dead, dying or not doing so well.
Maybe in other blogging niches it’s doing well but in the edublogosphere she’s struggling.
Feedburner subscriptions on the Teacher Challenge have barely increased since we’ve set it up and 70% of these are email subscribers. Similarly, The Edublogger subscribers haven’t increased much for the past year and I’m seeing the same trend on blogs of other well known edubloggers.
The simple truth is we’re less likely to use RSS or email subscription now compared to our RSS usage in the previous era of the Web. We’re just less into RSS readers and start pages.
Am I saying throw away your RSS and email subscription options? NO!
You need them for those readers that prefer these options. And I still believe that all educators need to learn about RSS as it does make managing students’ work online considerably easier.
We’re using real-time web & social networking more
We’re far more social now and more likely to use social network sites like Twitter and Facebook as a buffet.
Consuming whatever we want at our leisure by selecting posts from links shared by our networks.
So while we’ve struggled with RSS we’re getting good site visits on our new Teacher Challenge blog and it’s easy to see the increase in visits to The Edublogger this year compared to the same time period last year.
So what does this mean?
- Increased traffic to blogs and posts compared to when we were more reliant on RSS
- Less likelihood that our posts will be read if we’re not an active part of the edublogosphere and aren’t social networking with others
- Make sure you know how to use tools like Google Analytics to monitor your blog’s traffic
- Be an active member of the blogging community by taking a genuine interest in other blogger’s work, hyperlinking your posts to other bloggers’ content and making time to leave meaningful comments on their posts – read Scott McLeod’s great advice here.
- Learn how to use Twitter well
- Add social tools like Tweetmeme, Facebook Like, ShareThis to your blog to make it easier for readers to share with their network!
- Look at how you might use other social networks like Facebook to interact
- Learn how to monitor the social engagement of your posts using tools like Post Rank — you can check out The Edublogger’s PostRank and Teacher Challenge PostRank metrics here!
We’re using mobile apps and mobile devices more
Mobile devices like iPhones and iPad have changed how we’re using the mobile web.
No longer is the mobile web the realm of the geeks —these devices made it easy and they’re becoming increasingly ubiquitous.
And they’re starting to change blogging reading habits in a big way!
Check the growth in visitors to The Edublogger using a mobile device over the past year.
So what does this mean?
It’s important to understand how readers are using their mobile devices to consume content.
No! I’m not telling you to rush out to buy an iPad or iPhone… unless you want me too?
Instead I’ll explain how it’s changed reading habits for people like me.
Firstly I no longer read books — they’ve been replaced by ebooks.
Nowadays most posts are read while relaxed lazing on the couch or in bed on my iPad. It’s more enjoyable, faster and easier to scan through the content.
And when I’m out and about, and bored waiting for an appointment, I’ll pull out my iPhone to access my content on it!
Here’s my Computer – iPad work flow:
The key with mobile devices is how we use and our preferred apps is very personal.
The world’s a lot different from when I first started blogging in 2007. Our readers are changing and we need to be evolving with them.
Would love to hear your thoughts!
- Have your reading habits changed?
- Have you noticed the same types of changes to your blog’s metrics?
- What advice would you give others on building readership?
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