I have been blogging now since the end of 2009. Looking back, I’m surprised that I’ve been able to keep it up and that I still have things to write about. What keeps me going? You guys. All of you who come to read and leave comments and ping me to add to your own posts.
What does it take to keep readers coming back? I think there are several things that help you attract and keep an audience.
1) Have a theme
If you jump from topic to to topic, from restaurant reviews to political rants, how are your readers going to know what you’re passionate about? How will they know you have any credibility on a topic if you’re shooting your mouth off about everything under the sun? That’s not to say you can’t have an opinion on a variety of things but make sure your audience knows that’s your gimmick, giving your opinion. Look at the blogs you read regularly. Are they specific? Book blogs? Writing blogs? Pictures of cats doing silly things blogs? You go back to them because you have an idea of what you’re going to find, right? So pick a theme and try to stick to it. If you veer off on occasion, not the end of the world, but I would state at the beginning of the post something to the effect of “this isn’t my common type of post, but I felt I had to address this or get this off my chest” , etc.
2) Inject yourself into your posts
People are not going to come back to read if your posts are dry and dull. Don’t be afraid to be yourself in your writing. Add your brand of sarcasm or humor. Don’t be afraid to state your opinion. They don’t have to be just the facts and nothing but the facts. I tend to think of my posts more like editorials than “news” articles.
3) Make your posts interactive
Believe it or not, people aren’t always stopping by just because they like to “hear” you talk. They probably stop by because the title of your post catches their eye and if it interests them, they probably have something to say about it as well. Pose a question to get your readers to add their opinion. Ask them to debate with you or find more information. Insert polls and prompts and anything else to get your audience to participate. It’s always nice to hear other points of view as well.
4) Back it up
I’m not talking about “that thang”. I’m talking about backing up your claims. Add links in the body of your posts (WordPress is great for offering recommended links as you type up your posts). Find other blogs talking about the same topic and link them at the end of your post. You readers want to know you did some research or have an idea you know what you’re talking about and not just pulling things out of your ass. It’s not necessary for all posts. This one, for example, I’m just going by my own experiences, but I definitely do it for topics I have to do a little more research on.
5) Contests and giveaways
This is not something I do too often because I don’t seem to have much luck with getting people to enter or play along (and I’m not quite sure why that is…if you have any suggestions, please feel free to list ’em in the comments!), but I know it works for some of the other blogs I follow. There are great tools out there like Rafflecopter that make giveaways easy for you, the blogger, to deal with.
6) Put yourself out there
I assume most of the people who follow my blog are authors like me. If so, you know all those avenues you use to help promote your books? You can use many of them to promote your blog as well. Tweet your posts a couple times of day (please space it out so you’re not spamming followers). Remember people around the world are on Twitter at different times of the day. Schedule your Tweets to post while you’re sleeping. Make use of things like Facebook pages and Triberr. Social media is your friend! Just don’t over do it. If you’re spamming people or if promoting your blog is *ALL* you do, you’ll just turn people off.
Keeping these steps in mind as you do your blogging is sure to help you attract and keep an audience. Did I miss anything? Do you do something other than this to engage your audience? Please let me know!