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Now, if you are reading this post. you are probably hoping that I’m about to divulge the “secret sauce” to standing out in the crowded blogging space. Unfortunately, I don’t have that secret sauce or magic formula for getting millions of blog readers with the click of a mouse. If I did, I’d probably be a billionaire by now.
While I can’t offer you the secret sauce, I can provide you with seven tips to help market and expand your blog. These are by no means a quick fix. But with a lot of hard work, time and effort, they can help you build a loyal blog following.
1. Develop a content strategy
You wouldn’t begin selling a product without a marketing strategy. So, why start a blog without one?
Every blogger has some sort of strategy for what they post and how often they want to post. Some are very detailed and include an editorial calendar. Some are not written down at all and others are just a few sentences about the goal(s) for their blog.
Whatever you decide to do, just make sure to write it down. Also, keep in mind that consistency is key. Blog about a consistent topic often and people will begin to take notice.
2. Abide by the 60:40 Rule
60 percent of your time should be spent reading, commenting, and contributing on blogs other than your own. And, the other 40% should be spent on writing content for your site.
Unless you are already famous, people aren’t just going to come to your blog willy-nilly. You have to give them an incentive to start reading.
The best way to start is through commenting on other people’s blogs. I don’t mean just leave a comment that says, “Read my blog. Insert link here.” That’s just SPAM.
Instead,write a thoughtful, honest comment about the blogger’s post. Start a discussion. If they like your reply, then they might click over to your blog. Just don’t force it.
3. Guest Post Often
This goes right along with the 60:40 rule. It’s so important to get your blogging voice out there. Guest blogging for other bloggers in and around your niche will help you expand your reach.
The easiest way to start guest posting is to approach your five favorite bloggers. Present them with a topic and how it will resonate with their readers. The key here is how it will resonate with their readers. Your guest posting efforts will be a lot more successful if you are adding value to their audience.
4. Respond to Comments
If someone takes the time to comment on your blog post, it says, “Your post resonated so much with me, that I wanted to comment about it.”
Now, common blog etiquette would be to respond back to that commenter. That’s how to build a loyal blog readership. When you respond, more people will be willing to comment, since it shows that you are listening to them. This is how you get comment section gold, a.k.a. where the discussions you are having in the comment section become as good, if not better, than the actual post you wrote.
5. Spot trends in your blog analytics
Now if you don’t have analytics set up for your blog do so now. I’d recommend Google Analytics (free) or Webtrends or Omniture, if you have some cash and want even more bells and whistles.
It’s so important to monitor your analytics regularly. (Usually once a week to once a month). You should monitor not only who is visiting your blog, but where they are coming to your blog from (Twitter, Facebook, google, direct) and where they are going on your blog once they are there.
Identify trends, and cater specific content to them. For example, if you notice 40% of readers this week came to your blog from Twitter, it might be a good idea to spend more time marketing and building a community on Twitter. The same would go for Facebook, Youtube, etc. Go where your audience is. This concept also applies to content on your blog.
6. Write several headlines for each post
A headline is your chance to “hook” people into reading your post. People will decide whether to visit or stay on your site within an average of 3 seconds. If the headline is vague, confusing, too long or just plain sucks, there is a good chance most people won’t read your post.
Come up with five headlines for each post. Choose one for your post. Then, use the others to promote your work across your social media channels, but keep in mind your target audience on each channel.
For instance, on Facebook, your community might respond well to a headline framed as a question. Or Twitter, you might want to use a funny headline or even a quote from inside your post to hook people in. The more targeted and platform-specific your headline is, the more likely people will read it.
7. Have a strong website design
At the very least, it should take a person no more than five seconds to find what they are looking for on your home page. That means your blog should have a prominent search bar, some sort of an archiving system and dominant space for your posts. Some other nice things to have would be an about and contact us pages.
The key with your website design is to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to gain value. Remove any options that will confuse your blog readers or take away from them not helping you reach your goals.
What marketing tips would you pass along for gaining more blog followers?