10 Ways to Build & Increase Your Readership

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 your blog on a regular basis.

Make it very obvious on your blog’s sidebar how to subscribe, 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.

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 proofread 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, such as Works-For-Me Wednesday. 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 there’s one thing I want to encourage with giveaways, it’s this: don’t overdo it 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 10-20% 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.

Many new bloggers think you must have a big blog or super-secret sources in order to host giveaways on your blog. But guess what! There is no super-secret society one must be admitted to in order to run giveaways. Nor do you need to have substantial traffic.

No matter the size of your blog, there are thousands of companies who would love to offer a giveaway to your readers. Seriously. And once you get started with giveaways, you’ll likely quickly find that there are many more opportunities than you have time and space for!

How Do You Start Offering Giveaways?

(1) Give Something of Your Own Away. When I was very new to blogging and didn’t know any better, I often paid for my own giveaways. In fact, I often gave away products that I personally owned and no longer needed.

While this is not the ideal, it is an excellent way to “get your feet wet” when it comes to giveaways. When you approach a company regarding running a giveaway (see next point), you’ll likely have better success in procuring a giveaway if you can show them that you’ve successfully run giveaways in the past.

If you use Swagbucks (and if you don’t, what are you waiting for?!), you might consider giving away a gift card you’ve earned through them. That way, it doesn’t cost you actual money out of pocket. And readers love gift card giveaways.

(2) Approach Companies and Ask If They’ll Run a Giveaway. If you don’t have companies beating your door down to request that you do a giveaway with them, start getting proactive! Have a product or website that you love, write and ask them if they’d consider running a giveaway on your blog. It’s that easy!

Be professional, be concise, and make sure to clearly explain how running a giveaway on your blog would be a win for their company. I’d recommend that you share your blog stats with them, link to a recent giveaway you’ve run, and share why you feel their product or website is well-suited to your blog’s audience. In addition, I’d state upfront two ideas you have for a giveaway but also convey that you’re open to other ideas they might have.

(3) Ask for a Contact From Another Blogger Who Has Run a Giveaway. Has one of your blogging friends run a giveaway with a company that you think would also be a great fit for your blog? Ask them if they’d be willing to pass along their contact at that company to you.

Now, please don’t abuse this idea! Most bloggers are happy to share their contacts with you, but don’t expect or demand that they must share all their contacts with you as most bloggers work hard to establish relationships with PR and Advertising companies. But if they are willing to share, this can be a great way to get a direct contact for a person at a company or PR Agency which is likely interested in running giveaways on blogs.

(4) Respond to a Press Release With a Giveaway Pitch. Once you’ve been blogging for a little while, you’ll often begin to receive press releases about new products from companies and PR Agencies. If you’re interested in the product and think it would be a great fit for your blog’s audience, consider writing back and pitching a giveaway. Companies are sending out a press release to garner buzz for their product, so they’ll often bite on a giveaway pitch.

7. Interact on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

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-aside from so many of the other things we’ve discussed in this series-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 when 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 a series.

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 commenters. 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 commenters. They care much more deeply about you than a fly-by-night nasty anonymous commenter ever does.

In addition, listen to your readers: ask for their advice, welcome their input, and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Cheers

OJ!