I hear this type of comment frequently from my clients: “I have great content on my blog, but no one reads my posts!” As Canadian Blogger John Chow says, “… many authors think blogging is like the movie, Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will come. You can build it, but if nobody knows about your blog, they’re not coming!”
Creating a beautiful blog, crafting great posts, then sitting back and waiting for readers to find your site is comparable to a child standing alone on a busy playground, arms akimbo, claiming no one will play with them. Most parents chuckle at that picture. But isn’t that what we do when we wait for readers to find us?
What’s the Solution? Network!
So how do you draw them in? How does a blogger attract reader traffic? One simple answer is ‘networking.’ Most adults are great networkers in real life. They may work in a corporate environment and communicate with contacts on a regular basis. The conversation among this group may be by email, phone, even chatting over drinks at a yearly conference.
But networking isn’t just a corporate thing. In fact, my 13-year-old is learning the basics of networking in her school’s Leadership class. And if you stand outside a school and listen to parents waiting to pick up kids, you’ll hear conversations about who is doing what for the next class party, where to get good prices on craft supplies, or advice from someone with a needed skill.
So, if we can network in real life, why do we struggle with the necessity of online networking? Although a properly set up and optimized blog will eventually be found, authors can speed the process and gain more traffic by working with others. Here are five ways authors can network a blog:
1. Publish great, properly optimized content
To attract an audience, you need to provide them with something to read. That seems obvious, but I recently had a discussion with an author about the lack of traffic to his blog, which only had 3 posts. No one will visit if there’s nothing to see!
So before you network, publish a reasonable body of work. Then, when you reach out to potential readers, they have a reason to visit and stay. If your blog is set up properly, this body of work will be found and indexed by Google as it is created. If someone performs a Google search for the topic of one of your posts, your blog can be found by that searcher. If that reader enjoys that post, they will hopefully go on to read more, and may even be compelled to subscribe so they receive new posts from you in their inbox each time you publish. But that won’t happen if you don’t have quality content.
2. Register your blog on database sites
You can register your blog on many database sites, which is the equivalent of introducing yourself to strangers. For instance, create a free account on BlogLovin.com, use its built in mechanism to connect your blog’s feed, then associate your content with various categories so people looking for blogs to read can find and follow it.
Bloglovin is more than just a database site, however. It is also a feed reader, similar to Feedly. Account holders can choose blogs to follow and actually read their posts on Bloglovin’s site. They can also receive email notifications and get a daily digest email with the latest content from blogs they’ve expressed interest in. Because email notifications are sent daily, you don’t have to rely on followers to remember to visit your site or BlogLovin to check for new posts. Note: This site will also help you with another point below: finding blogs to read, comment on, and follow.
I established The Book Blogger List in 2013 to serve as a comprehensive place for authors to find bloggers who will review and or feature their books. At the time, there wasn’t an up-to-date website that could be searched by genre and that’s what I set out to create. The Book Blogger List database gets 600 – 800 unique hits daily, more on weekends and holidays. I have a massive mailing list of people who want to be notified as new bloggers are added. Blogs that are listed on this site get noticed! So, if you review books or feature authors on your blog, fill out the form and get your site included.
3. Find other blogs in your niche and comment
Seeking out bloggers in your niche and leaving comments on their posts is a traditional, hands-on (and therefore time-consuming) method – but it works. Successful bloggers who started several years ago will tell you that visiting and commenting is a great way to be noticed. And, like any large project, it is best done in smaller bites. Set up a spreadsheet in Google Docs or on your computer and list 5 active blogs that you have found in your niche. There are thousands on BlogLovin.
Visit each one, read a recent post, then leave an appropriate, thoughtful, sincere comment. Do thank each blogger for sharing, and indicate that you are a new fan. Don’t be pushy. Don’t give unsolicited advice. Don’t self-promote. Aside from logging in to the commenting system, don’t leave links to your blog unless invited to. Indicate the date on your spreadsheet and move on. A few days later, repeat the process with five new, active blogs. After doing this for a few weeks, begin at the top of your list and re-visit.
Bloggers are a curious bunch – after you have visited and commented several times, your own blog will likely be visited in turn. If you have quality information to share, that visit should be a positive experience and will perhaps gain you a subscriber.
4. Seek influencers in your niche and offer help
Authors, if you don’t know the big players are in your niche, go to Amazon, research the bestsellers in your genre, and find out which ones blog. Then, offer to feature their books on your blog via a post that requires no input from them. Sharing thoughts about other authors’ books with your (however small) audience helps you develop more content. And if your thoughts are particularly positive, they may choose to link to your review from their site, which is a great potential audience builder and good for your SEO.
Or, why not send a note of thanks to an influencer? Let them know that you enjoyed their book, that you enjoy listening to their podcast, that you referred people to their course, etc. Doing something sincerely nice with a no-strings-attached attitude can get you noticed and appreciated!
5. Reach out to other authors
Although you can’t expect influencers – the power players in your niche – to give you much time, it is possible to collaborate with authors in a similar position to you. For instance, you can form a like-minded group for book and blog cross-promotions. Search for active, positive, motivated peers who write in a similar genre. As you all build your platforms, you can help ‘cross-pollinate’ audiences by swapping guest posts, etc.
As a reader, I appreciate discovering other authors who write books I might be interested in. Whether I find out about other authors through reading about them on blogs or being told about a group promotion, a new book/author is a good thing in my world! I know of several similar groups of authors who joined forces at the beginning of their career, and are still together and stronger because of their networking.
There is not one silver bullet networking method, but I hope these ideas have stirred your creative juices, I hope you explore them, and, as a result, discover other ways to collaborate with others. Happy networking!
Authors, what challenges and/or successes have you experienced on your networking journey? Leave a comment and share!
I’ve written eleven books that focus on helping authors, and every subscriber to my mailing list gets two free – one about social media and the other to help you find book reviewers. I also post about the technical issues that authors struggle with on my business blog, and create YouTube videos that walk my audience through challenging issues. I currently have 36 videos available, with more on their way. Thanks for letting me share!