1. Produce consistent, quality content.
People visit a blog more often if they know they can count on it being updated regularly. Consistently commit to post at least three times each week and you’ll be well on your way to building your readership.
2. Make it very simple for people to subscribe.
If someone subscribes to your blog’s feed or email newsletter, they are much more likely to remember about your blog on a regular basis. Plus, they are less likely to unsubscribe once they’ve taken the effort to sign up.
Make it very obvious where and how to subscribe on your blog’s sidebar and occasionally remind your readers of the ease and benefits of subscribing (giving a little something away as a reward for subscribing doesn’t hurt, either!)
3. Comment on other blogs.
A great way to encourage people to check out your own blog is to leave interesting comments on other blogs. If people like your comment, they are very likely to click on your name and wander over to your blog.
Please do make sure your comment adds value to the discussion, though. Don’t just say “great post!” and then leave your link. Comments that sound like an infomercial for your blog or that serve no purpose other than to try and get people to click over to your blog are not something bloggers or blog readers appreciate.
Amy has some great tips on how to effectively make use of your time when commenting on other blogs.
4. Write guest posts.
Many, many blogs (including this one!) readily accept well-written, relevant guest posts and it’s one of the most effective ways to introduce your blog and your writing style to a new audience. As an added benefit, if the blog you guest post for has a lot of traffic and ranks high in search engines, having a link or two to your blog on that blog will increase your search engine rankings, too.
When submitting a guest post, make sure that it follows that blog’s guest post guidelines and carefully proof-read it before you send it (you wouldn’t believe how many guest posts submissions we receive that are riddled with glaring typos!). If it gets rejected, don’t take it personally (I’ve rejected many fabulous guest posts over the years, usually because I felt they were better suited for a different audience than mine.), submit it to another blog for consideration instead.
5. Participate in weekly memes.
Blog memes are the weekly link-up opportunities many blogs host. There are thousands of different memes out there and this provides a great opportunity to get new visitors to your blog.
I recommend that you try participating in one to two different memes each week when you’re first starting out. Track your traffic after you participate to see which ones are most successful and bring the most visitors.
And just my personal opinion here: don’t link up to 25 different memes in one post. It looks tacky and I believe it waters down your post’s effectiveness.
6. Host giveaways.
Readers love giveaways. It’s a way to generate buzz for your site, give something back to your readers and get additional traffic by linking up to giveaway link-ups.
If you are a new blogger and wondering how on earth you get started hosting giveaways, it’s really very simple. Read my other post for some tips and suggestions for getting started offering giveaways.
If there’s one thing I want to encourage with giveaways, it’s this: don’t overdo and don’t make people jump through a bunch of hoops to enter. Okay, that was two things, but I think they are both vital for giveaway success.
Giveaways are great — in moderation. Unless your blog is primarily a product review blog, any more than 10 to 20% of a ratio of giveaways to regular posts is probably too much. And make it simple for people to enter. I promise your readers will appreciate it.
As a side note: be honest in your reviews if you’re including them with a product. If you didn’t love something, there’s no need to gush up and down about it.
Your readers appreciate honesty and forthrightness. Show pros and cons. But, as I’ve learned the hard way, if you only have critical things to say about a product, it’s probably better to skip the giveaway altogether since most companies aren’t really excited about sponsoring a giveaway where the blogger just posts a very negative review of the product.
7. Interact on Facebook and Twitter.
A year and a half ago, my husband suggested I set up a Facebook Page. I wasn’t too sure if it was worth it, but I went ahead and did it. I was shocked at how much traffic it generated from the start and how many people signed up as fans!
The beautiful thing about a Facebook Page is that when someone interacts on your page, it shows up on their personal page. Many people have told me they originally found my blog through a friend on Facebook.
In addition, my Facebook Page is one of the highest generators of traffic to my blog each month. Needless to say, I’m listening more carefully when my husband suggests I add something to my blog. 🙂
A successful Facebook Page doesn’t sit dormant. It should be updated at least once a day, preferably a few times per day. Post links to all your blog posts, share posts from the archives and throw in the occasional picture or real-time funny story, quote or question. The more you interact with your fans, the better.
By the way, I recommend posting your links manually on Facebook, instead of using an auto-post set up. Not only does this cause you to see if people are commenting or leaving questions, but this also shows up more readily in people’s feeds (auto-post tends to bury posts so people never see them).
8. Link liberally to other bloggers.
Want to know one way to have people find your blog? Link to their blog!
Most bloggers track their stats and incoming links and will click over to see if someone has linked to them. They might just end up linking back to you if they like what they see.
Now, I’m not advocating a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” sort of mentality here, but I know that some bloggers are so scared they might lose traffic if they link to another blog. I’ve found the exact opposite to be true.
If you find a great blog or blog post that you think your readers would love, share it on your blog or Facebook Page! Don’t keep a good thing to yourself.
9. Network with other bloggers.
Back when I first starting blogging, if you blogged semi-consistently and were even remotely interesting, you had no problem getting readers. Nowadays, there are so many more blogs and it’s a lot harder to build your readership.
One of the key components is to network with other bloggers. I’ve learned everything I know about blogging from more experienced and wiser people. They’ve given me counsel, they’ve taught me things I would have never figured out on my own, they’ve encouraged me with I was feeling burnt out or discouraged and they’ve challenged me to better myself as a blogger and writer.
Find bloggers you can connect with (either online or in your local area) to bounce ideas off of, to keep each other accountable and to share new things you’re learning or experimenting. These friendships can be invaluable — and it’s also nice to spend time with people who “get” what this whole blogging thing is about!
Partner with other bloggers to create series (see Honoring the Man They Call Daddy for an example), team up with other bloggers to raise awareness about issues you care about and guest post on each other’s blogs. Always be looking for ways to join forces with other bloggers in a way that will benefit your readers — and theirs, as well.
10. Create a community.
Finally, if you want to build your readership, you need to be there for them. Don’t just write a post and then disappear and let readers talk amongst themselves in the comments.
Respond to questions asked and interact with your readers on a regular basis. In fact, when you are first starting out, you might to try to respond to all comments left. It encourages people to stick around and it makes them feel a part of a community.
Even if you can’t respond to every comment, whatever you do, don’t just show up to respond to negative commentors. As Jon Acuff says, “If you only respond to jerks on your blog, eventually you’ll create a blog that only jerks read.”
It’s totally okay to explain yourself to those who misunderstood your post or are offended, but it’s much more important to respond to the faithful, encouraging commentors. They care much more deeply about you than a fly-by-night nasty anonymous commentor ever does. In addition, listen to your readers: ask for their advice, welcome their input and let them know how much you appreciate them.
A Word of Caution
People always ask me, “How do you do it all?” I think the important thing to remember is that I’ve slowly added new things — Facebook, Twitter, email newsletter, etc.
If I had tried to set it all up all at once, I would have been completely overwhelmed. Pace yourself when setting up a blog. Challenge yourself to try new things little by little, don’t go and implement all these ten things at once. Pick one or two to focus on for the next few months.
Set goals for each month, break these goals down into weekly goals and then work on them for 10 or 15 minutes each day. Over time, it will likely start to become old hat and you can add new goals and experiment with new ideas.
However, remember to compare yourself with yourself only. There will always be another blogger doing a better job of this or that or the other.
Don’t let it discourage you. Look at the progress you are making towards your goals — even if it seems very slow and miniscule — and be encouraged by that.