Common questions new bloggers ask me is how do you build your blog’s readership? How do you get people to read and comment on your posts?
If you’re looking for a quick solution – forget it!
Building your blog’s readership and community takes time. Here’s my five top tips to get it happening!
#1 Become a Better Blog Citizen
Don’t expect people to read and comment on your posts if you aren’t doing the same on other people’s blogs! Blogging is as much about reading other blogger’s posts and commenting on posts as it is writing your own posts.
Besides being a valuable source of ideas for writing your own posts it also helps develops relationships with others. Interaction with other bloggers and their readers, in comments, often leads to new readers of your blog.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Subscribe and start reading other people’s blogs
- Read this introduction on RSS and subscribing to blogs using Feedreaders
- Follow these instructions to set up your Google Reader account
2. Make an effort to write comments on other peoples blog posts
- Initially leaving comments can be frightening! But commenting is an important part of blogging. It’s often where most your learnng happens.
- Comments are about adding to the conversation — not ‘ WOW great post!’
- Don’t comment for comment sake. Comments should be meaningful, polite, and respond by expanding on the post topic, sharing your thoughts or explaining politely why you disagree.
- If there is an option to subscribe to be notified of new comments — use it! This way you will be notified of new comments on that post and can choose whether to respond to new comments
- It’s okay to direct comments at other readers as opposed to the blogger.
3. Respond back to comments on your own blog posts
- Readers like to know you both read and value the comments they leave on your posts
- Responding back in the comments of your post tells both that reader and other readers you value their input
#2 Link to other bloggers
All bloggers like people linking to their blogs and posts.
A good blogger follows the link in a pingback on their post to check out what a person has written about them. If they like what you’ve written they may leave a comment and even start subscribing to your blog.
It’s good blogging etiquette to link to:
- A person’s blog if you mention a blogger
- The post if you are talking about a particular post on a blog
To learn more read:
- STOP! Don’t Press Publish! Have You Remembered to Add The LINKS?
- What’s A Pingback? And How To Write Links
#3 Building your Personal Learning Network
Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) are all about using web tools such as blogs, wiki, twitter, facebook to create connects with others which extend our learning, increases our reflection while enabling us to learn together as part of a global community.
Making time to connect with others in meaningful ways will build your blog’s readership. People who already connect online are more likely to read and interact with your blog than your friends and family who aren’t as connected.
Twitter is currently the most important tool for connecting; especially since many now prefer to obtain links to blog posts via twitter than subscribe using RSS.
- Read this information about building your PLN
- Follow these instructions to set up your twitter account – you can follow me here on twitter
#4 Write better blog posts
Sad fact of life…not every one who sees your blog post reads it. Even if they read — they often don’t read it all.
To keep your readers attention:
- Every title
- Every paragaph
- Every heading
- Every word
- Every image
——has to count!
Read Here’s My First Five Tips For Writing Better Blog Posts — it’ll help you write better blog posts!
#5 You First, Readers Second!
One of the biggest reasons why new bloggers fail is they focus entirely on writing posts to please readers. Every post becomes a chore because they aren’t writing about what interest them but what they think interests others!
- things you feel strongly or passionate about
- what you’ve learnt — if you didn’t know than it’s likely others didn’t either
Good bloggers always write to fulfil their own needs first because they know by doing so they fulfil the needs of their readers!!!!
These were my five top tips for building your blog’s readership! What have I missed? Do you disagree with my advice? What would you expand on?
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29 thoughts on “Here’s My Five Top Tips For Building Your Blog’s Readership –What Are Yours?”
A real key is offering multiple ways to navigate the blog.
Many people I know that aren’t as tech savvy but still like to read things online simply use the search box on blogs and sites everywhere they go.
While I prefer myself to use the archive. Depending on the blog size, sometimes I will start at the very beginning of a blog and read to the most recent, other times I will do it backwards and read the most recent stuff and work my way back to the blog start until I run out of time or tired of reading.
But then some of my online friends just like to use the “tag clouds” and the “tags sections”(aka categories/labels/topics) to navigate through a blog.
I wouldn’t say any of navigation techniques can be ignored because they all are versatile and allows the readers to do it their way.
In a recent article I wrote about things every blog must have, I made this a key point in the article. I just summed it up here for this comment.
The article is found here….
@Anne, actually no one has discussed tags and categories. To be honest I need to think about this. Search engines like Google and Technorati search for the key words within Title first then body of text. Tags, categories? Maybe. Google has been so haywire lately who really knows how it searches now.
@April WOW how did I miss consistently in my top list? Looks like Ken will have to pipe up and say whether he agrees or disagrees with more than !.
Consistency is really hard. If you want to build readership quickly then you are more likely to achieve this with a high blogging frequency. But increased blogging frequencey = decreased commenting. I’m less convinced nowdays that you lose readers when you blog less.
My thoughts on blogging consistently? Work out how many a days/month work for you. If it helps note those dates on a calendar with rough ideas on what you might blog about. But be flexible to change. Just because someone has written about it doesn’t mean your readers have read about it.
Hi Sue! I really enjoy reading your blog posts since they always make me think about my own practices. Anyway, I would add blogging consistently. If a reader likes what you’ve got to say, he or she will keep coming back on a regular basis. A blogger may manage to drive readers away by waiting too long between blog posts.
That being said, I fail miserably at this particular tip for building readership. I am a busy super mom with a writing habit (can’t wait for NaNoWriMo!) and a full time job. But I think the biggest obstacle is “what do I write about today that someone else hasn’t already discussed so I don’t sound like a broken record?”
I not only want my posts to be “fresh” but also contribute to the body of knowledge in my profession. A tall order to be sure.
Your thoughts on blogging consistently?
Another way of accumulating readership is with the appropriate use of categories and tags. (Please forgive me if someone else has already said this, but my scroll bar is being silly tonight). Once established, search engines will drive quite a bit of traffic to your blog and if posts are tagged correctly, the tags will enable others to find you. I find using the words “….in education” after the topic certainly helps to find a post as well.
Responding to people’s comments is strongly recommeded. If people take the time to add a comment, return to their blog and add one back. Some great connections can be made this way.
Thanks so much for this set of advice. I started as a member of the blogging world as part of a 23 Things class, and have just embarked on a reviewing books for school-aged children aimed at teachers and students. While I have been reading blogs from a number of people, I hadn’t been commenting as much. Thanks for helping me “see the light” on how to get the ball rolling!
@Lydia Schultz, I love 23 Things programs but one aspect I notice with them many of them is they don’t encourage the participants to read and comment on each others posts. Would love to see that built into the program early so that participants learnt how that interaction really helps their learning,
A thought-provoking post.
I would add to your 4 – certainly for me I actually like to see a few headings and paragraphs in the first place! I have seen blog entries which seem to have little structure – just an endless column of text! I want to be able to glance at a post and know what it’s all about!
@Colleen Young, totally agree and that is one of the tips covered in Here’s My First Five Tips For Writing Better Blog Posts.
People read content online differently from in a book. You need to use shorter sentences, headings when appropriate, and where possible make it, as you say, easy to glance to know what it is about.
Another great post Sue. I read so many helpful things here and they don’t all click at once but many have stuck with me. For instance, after reading Step #1 I was reminded of an earlier post on the Sue Waters Blog that taught me to a better blog citizen. In “Comments Count” you wrote “Much of the learning from blogging happens as a result of commenting and interaction between commenters. Comments that challenge views, ideas and thoughts or provide alternative solutions all expand your (and your readers) thinking.” You went on to ask for comments and that helped me to break through the comment barrier. Since then I have been more open and comfortable with commenting. The same post I cited above is a great example of #1 part 3. You replied to nearly every comment there and each one carried it’s own personal signature.
In #5 you say “you first, readers second.” I agree that it needs to come from a place in you that needs expression. I also know from following your blogs that because we want our message to be heard, we need to write in a way that usually invites interaction and commenting by the reader. It feels good to get comments and we are more eager to keep writing. So, just as you wouldn’t want to put a listener to sleep by telling a boring story, neither would you want to write a post that is boring to others.
@Gail P, Wow Gail I never realised that the post Comments Count helped you break through the comments barrier. That is really great to hear.
That was one of those post. I wrote it to help with a presentation and yet its true value became more important that its original purpose. Readers left so many differing opinions – even the sort of spam comment from Chocolate opened the debate on when should you/shouldn’t you delete spam comments and how do you know if they are spam?
Yes I try hard to reply to all comments. Part of my thinks some readers must get annoyed about that as the sheer number must be overwhelming – threaded comments in that sense makes it harder because previously you would respond to all contained in one comment.
But here is my confession – responding is important to show I value but it is even more important for my own learning. When I respond to a comment I have to read it (a lot), think about what has been said and then add my own thoughts. By the time I’ve done that what the reader has said really sinks in and I now have new ideas/thoughts that I wouldn’t have achieved if I hadn’t taken the time to respond.
Oh dear – #5 I’m abolutely terrible f2f with the telling the story 🙁 — mmm I might need to write a post to get some improvement tips.
You got ’em!
@Ken Allan, I think I need to take a screenshot. Is that your shortest comment ever? Can’t believe I hit all 5 correctly? But I will take the Hi 5!
@Sue Waters – nope.
@Ken Allan, no?
@Sue Waters – !
Now that is the one, the shortest, the all time briefest reply!
@Gail P, yeah Ken’s got me. I can’t think of a comeback comment that is shorter than that. If only I had thought of the ? or ! before him!
I find that often the most popular posts with comments come when I am writing about something I am enthusiastic about, or contains some vulnerability, surprise, or story from my personal experience. People want to know the real you. They want integrity, a sense of humour sometimes, dedication to the vision you have created in your blog.
@Paul C, I’m glad you bought up about personal experience and getting to know the real you. If I have time this week I planned to write a post on exactly that topic.
Personal is really important for that community aspects and if any thing I would probably have to give myself a really bad grade on The Edublogger in terms of personal. You see this aspect of my blogging on my personal blog but it is mostly hidden on The Edublogger – except perhaps in my comments.
Maybe I should leave others to decide that? Am I human enough on The Edublogger? Chuckling that should give both you, Paul and Ken, some homework on my blogging styles and when is it appropriate to be or not be human — I can picture those posts that you might wrie in my mind.
I find what keeps me going is your tip #5. I write about what I know best and am the most passionate about- teaching struggling/reluctant high school kids.
Gradually over the past three years, other people have made their way to my blog and have joined to form a community. I find this one of the most rewarding aspects of blogging. I too have found my way to other blogs and have joined the communities their by leaving comments. It really doesn’t take long to leave a comment and it makes the experience of writing and reading blogs so much richer.
@Elona Hartjes, It was interesting when we did the Comment Challenge and they had to do a comment self audit. Most people acknowledged they rarely left comments, not due to lack of time, but because they felf they had nothing to offer, were too inexperienced or were frightened that they would say the wrong thing. As you say doesn’t take long to leave a comment — and you gain so much when you do.
Thanks for the advice. I’ve made the mistake of concentrating on my own blog, and have missed the importance of commenting on the blogs of others (although I do read quite a few). In doing so, I’ve missed that community participation angle. Thanks for the help.
@lbott, Glad the advice has helped. The commenting aspect is in many ways the most important aspect. Community and making readers feel part of that community creates vibrant blogs where people willingly share helpful information in comments.
The most valuable tips and advice on this blog are generally found in the comments left by readers — most of them I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.
Another tip is remember to always leave your blog URL in the field where it says URL or website. If you leave an interesting comment – bloggers or their readers often follow that comment across to your blog to read more about your thoughts and who you are.
Such great advice that really works. I remember when I first started out I followed your link advice. Already my readership has grown! I think linking to others shows that I read other bloggers with more authority in the subject matter who have explored the topics a bit more. Plus, this adds support to arguments, which may come across as being out there to some readers. Readers I believe want to know where you get your information to feel safe you aren’t just anyone who wanted to post unsubstantiated opinions.
I do appreciate the last advice as I have been struggling a bit on whether I should try to align what I write to what others may want to see. I am still finding the balance. Unfortunately, my interests vary so much that I just find something I am passionate about and hope my readers enjoy this as well.
@Shelly Terrell, glad linking is helping as I wrote in my top 5 mistakes made by new bloggers — failing to link is a big mistake. I would have thought that your interactions on Twitter in terms of being helpful and generous with your time has also helped grow your readership.
Yes, I struggle with the last point myself. With the wide areas that I now am involved in some aspects of the work are perhaps less interesting to read about for my readers. Fortunately writing on numerous blogs means that I can fulfil my needs to share the information while still meeting the needs of the different readers.