How do you make your blog or website grow? Do you have to coerce, cajole, or trick your visitors? Do you have to spend a lot of money?
It's not as hard as you think.
There are, essentially, three important aspects to consider for any blog:
- The Content
- The Community
- The Technical Side
If your blog isn't getting the traction it deserves, then it's probably because you've neglected one of these.
You need to write good stuff. I can't stress this enough.
Sometimes, it's hard to have proper perspective when you're close to your work.
If you're unsure of the quality of your content take a step back and evaluate:
- Do you have a focus?
- Do people thank you for what you've written?
- Do people share your writing?
Consider the number of comments, social media shares, and word-of-mouth reputation your blog has.
What do you do if your content is struggling? Try the following:
- Ask your readers. See what they want from you.
- Spend more time writing. If you only spend 30 minutes crafting a post, trying doubling it. See what happens.
- Work ahead. Give yourself time to edit your posts before they go live (this means not always writing a post the same day you want to publish it). Capture ideas to revisit later.
To some bloggers, building a community comes naturally. For others, it's a discipline.
Getting more than a group of random visitors to your blog is essential to growing your blog's audience. Here are some questions:
- Are the same people commenting on your blog each day?
- Are people sharing your content with others?
- Are people connecting with each other via your blog?
All of the above are indicators you're building a community, not just a platform.
The bottom line? If conversations aren't happening – if content is merely being consumed – then your blog needs work.
If you're struggling with that, try the following:
- Write a blank blog post. Ask a question that your readers need to answer. Collaborate. Do something creative that turns readers into participants.
- Branch out. Connect with your readers elsewhere (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, real life, etc.)
- Reach out. Connect with other bloggers through email or by commenting on their blogs. Ask those who are building community on their blogs for help or advice.
The technical aspect of blogging is hit-or-miss.
Usually, a blogger leans toward one of two extremes: 1) all-out geek with zero social skills, or 2) completely oblivious artist. But if you're going to leverage your blog to reach the most people possible, you have to consider some of the technical parts of blogging:
- Do you know SEO, how to link out, write search-friendly titles, and focus on keywords?
- Do you know basic HTML to correct a nasty formatting issue on my blog?
- Do you know how to do simple formatting, like subheads, bold type, and italics?
For you artist types whose eyes just rolled back into your head, this is possible. You can do this. Here are a few next steps:
- Ask Google. Search a technical term or topic you don't know and find a helpful tutorial. (In fact, there's an SEO Guide on this site that I wrote to help beginners.)
- Find a mentor. Whether it's a blogger you admire or the geek next door, find someone who can teach you the basics to maintaining the technical side of your blog.
- When in doubt, copy. Find a good blogger that you like and do what they do. Truth be told, that's a lot of what I do. I don't only watch what people say, but also what they do. I follow what I see, more than what I hear.
I'm not saying that you go back to school and get your Master's in Computer Science; I'm just suggesting that you should be able to take care of your own blog.
Listen, we're all works-in-progress. No one's “arrived.” We all need to grow.
This shouldn't intimidate you. It should encourage you to get better. Because anyone can do this. I hope you will.
Do you need to grow in one of these three aspects of blogging? Share your thoughts in the comments.
*Photo credit: EvelynGiggles (Creative Commons)