When you launch a blog or have been at it for sometime, simply offering great content and a good-looking site (even though this is a ton of work in itself), will not automatically result in readers coming your way. When it comes to blogging, the notion of build it and they will come is not one that rings true. There are many facets involved in building up an engaged community and a tribe of loyal loving fans. Please know that it takes time, not weeks or months, but often years to really build up a great community around your blog. If you delve into the stories of some successful bloggers that you know, no doubt many of them will have been at it for a number of years.
Here are my top tips for building up your readership, lowering your bounce rate and getting people coming back time and time again.
1 Show up consistently
If you are really serious about blogging, this is a key part of building up your blog and creating an expectant audience who become part of your journey. To do this takes dedication, patience and sacrifice but it will pay off. To do this I suggest getting really clear on your blogging goals, what is it that you want to deliver to your audience and on what scale? If you struggle with regularly coming up with new post ideas, create a series around certain topics, develop a weekly link-up where you invite your readers in and you share around a certain topic each week. Have some structure to your content and get your readers involved by making it about them and how you can serve their needs.
Examples – Blog examples: weekly wearing posts, daily tasks for readers, weekly portrait series, weekly link-ups. Social media examples – Fat Mum Slim Photo a Day and Styling You’s #everydaystyle challenge on Instagram
Take action – create a new series or regular feature that you can commit to and think about ways you can involve your readers and invite them to join in.
2 Add internal links in your content
Every time you write a post, be conscious about linking it through to other related content on your site. Prompt people to delve deeper into your content and click around. In your copy suggest something that people may find helpful or present an intriguing question or quirky statement that gets people clicking through to another post to find out what you are referring to.
Example – Em from the Beetle Shack does this well
Take action – edit some of your most popular posts and add in some internal links that feel natural and fit into the flow of the post. In your new posts aim to have at least one to two internal links in the copy.
3 Make your current readers feel valued
Every user statistic is an actual reader, someone who has found your site and each one of these people do matter. Stop chasing the numbers and instead turn your focus to adding value to your current readers, the new and the regular ones. If they leave a comment on your blog or your social media, make the effort to respond in a way that adds value to the conversation and isn’t a quick ‘thanks for commenting’ response. Leave them some links if they need help with something, ask them a further question to create a conversation, pop over to their blog and say hi. Make them feel seen and heard and they will feel like a valued one of your readers, not just a statistic.
Take action – make time to jump into your commenting section and leave authentic and helpful responses to those who have commented. Send an email to someone who shows up regularly on your blog and thank them and spark up a relationship.
4 Comment on other blogs and social media
Blogging can be very time consuming and the more you delve into it, the less time you may feel you have for visiting other sites and commenting, I know this certainly rings true for me. Commenting on other peoples work really does matter though so I would suggest adding this to your daily or weekly task list. Choose a handful of bloggers and comment consistently on their work, share their work on your social media, shoot them an email, respond to their email newsletter and make them feel valued. If you show up consistently on someone else’s blog, they will get to know your name and face and no doubt come by to visit you.
Take action – choose five to ten bloggers for the month and regularly interact with their content and their social media. Show up in an authentic way, share their work and get to know them. Setting a goal and defining a list of bloggers will make it easier to really become a part of their journey and your interactions will be more effective and purposed.
5 Invite people in
To entice more comments, interaction and engagement on your blog, simply ask people to join in. Invite your readers into the conversation by asking questions throughout your post and at the end. Ask them for their advice and opinions. People love to share their own knowledge and their own work so offer a place where people feel invited in to do this.
Example – Rachel from In Spaces Between always does this well and in a very authentic way. Here is a closing paragraph on one of her recent posts that is prompting her readers to respond.
And now… I’d LOVE to hear from you in the comments below with an answer to this:
Do you diminish your joy? How does it tend to play out for you? Share away below.
Like I mentioned above, awareness is everything. When we illuminate what’s holding us back by calling it out, our inner wise self starts to look for ways to move through it. Aren’t we clever little creatures?!
Thank you for being here. x
Take action – next time you write a post, keep your reader in mind and weave into your writing and your closing statements an invitation for them to respond to what you have written.
6 Simplify and unclutter your blog design
When someone lands on your blog, you want it to be a place where they can easily navigate to what it is they want to find. Don’t cram every inch of your blog with content, lists, ads, graphics and noise. Give your blog room to breathe, use white space, simple navigation and offer readers easy steps to delve into your best content through a popular posts section, and a new here section which showcases your best work.
Example – check out these 12 things your blog should have to improve your readers experience when they land on your site
Take action – ask for feedback on your website, you could do this in a forum or through your email newsletter. Be brave and open to constructive criticism. Submit your site for a Peek Usability test where an independent person will do a free video review of your site. This can be very helpful for getting an idea of what brand new readers to your site think and understand about what your blog offers.
7 Regularly guest blog
Guest blogging is a great way to offer your ideas and writing up to another bloggers audience. This is essentially free marketing for you and will expose you to a whole new readership that may differ greatly from your own. Make a list of blogs that you would love to appear on, get to know their style and guest post guidelines and then craft a great post and submit it to those blogs. You may not be always accepted but keep trying and make sure that what you are offering is of high quality and true to your voice and style. If readers love what you have to say, they will no doubt pop by to your blog to find out more about you and in doing so you can develop your readership. If you have appeared on some prominent sites, let people know by showcasing these site logos in your sidebar under a ‘featured here’ section. This will give you credibility and Google will also favour you more because you have back-links to your site from high authority websites so it’s a win all round.
Take action – write a list of blogs that you would love to guest post on and start working on a post that you could submit to these blogs in your niche. Just start with one post and make sure it’s packed with value, written well and suits the style of blog you are submitting it to. Start a relationship with the blogger so they are aware of who you are and then submit your post.
8 Make sure your site loads quickly
Ever landed on a site that takes a while to load and before you know it you’re clicking away because you don’t feel like waiting around? Not only does Google frown upon slow site loading speeds, your visitors will as well and this can contribute greatly to a higher bounce rate. Ideally yours site should take 1-2 seconds to load but if it’s up around 5-7 seconds you are guaranteed to be losing visitors before they can even dig into your content.
Take action – Use the Pingdom tool to test out your site speed and get an idea of what is slowing you down. If you site is taking a little while to load, check out these 20 tips for optimising your site loading speed.
9 Display related content, sharing and email options
Install a related posts section at the end of your blog posts so that people can easily navigate to other content that they may be interested in. In the same way, offering simple sharing buttons on each of your posts and bookmarking options makes it easy for people to Pin, share or email your content for later reading. Having an email newsletter that people can opt-in to is a fantastic way to build up your own exclusive database and you can then talk directly to your subscribers whenever you like and deliver your content straight to their inbox.
Take action – There are a stack of options you can use to install these features on your blog. Some popular sharing services are AddThis, ShareThis and Shareaholic. Check out this list for a bunch of great of related post options and here is a recent series i have written that will help you get your email newsletter list all set up.
10 Be generous with your knowledge
Offer up your knowledge freely and consistently. A great way to do this is of course on your own blog but take it further by becoming active in online forums and groups. They are a great way to really connect with people and offer up assistance, build relationships and become known as an authority in your field. When people ask questions, provide helpful links and advice or be bold and offer a different stance on the topic and get people interested and intrigued by what you have to say.
Example – I am part of some great blogging groups and by showing up regularly and offering help and advice where it’s needed, people have become aware of what my blog is about and i often get new people coming by directly from these forums. I have also got a lot of paid design work through these forums as people often ask for help finding professional services and by simply responding to these callouts i have had the opportunity to work with many great clients.
Take action – find some groups in your niche or general blogging groups, join up and pop in regularly. Don’t just share your own content but interact with others, offer up your knowledge and build relationships.