When a self-published author blogs, the #1 goal is to build a site filled with content readers are going to love and relate to, which in turn will grow their subscriber base and gain fans for their books.
The only glitch with this simplified theory is that before readers can subscribe, they have to find the blog. So especially in the start-up phase, authors need to balance posting content with promoting it.
As an author’s website builds valuable content and attracts more traffic, fans/followers/readers will share the posts and help with promotion. But in the beginning, readers don’t just show up. Indie authors have to get out and invite potential readers to visit.
Here are a few tips about how to do that.
Identify your target reader
Whether your blog is brand new or seasoned, if you want to attract loyal followers and subscribers it’s best to have a clear picture who you’re writing posts for. That means you need to identify your target reader and their needs, meaning, understand what type of content (and length, and post day) draws them to (and keeps them on) your blog.
Understanding your ideal reader and how they use the Internet will improve your chances of finding them online. And once you know where they hang out, you can dangle snippets of your content there and lure them to your website. Once they’re on your turf, you’ll depend on your content to hold their attention and keep them coming back.
If the picture of your ideal reader is fuzzy, sharpen it by creating a reader profile just as you might do with your novels. A reader profile describes their needs, challenges, and how they use the web – Are they on Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Goodreads? Are they participating in certain groups and forums? The answers will help you determine topics and how and where to promote your posts.
You can also use surveys and polls to refine your profile. Surveys can be placed on your home page or included in blog posts and subscriber emails. Polls can encourage reader engagement. If you use polls and surveys to determine your readers’ needs, your posts will be based on their answers, as well as the questions your followers are asking in blog comments and on social media.
Now, get off your blog and find those readers
Wherever your ideal reader congregates is where you should develop a presence. Hint: To find out where your potential readers are gathering, find out where your competitors are spending time.
Two great places for novelists to connect with readers are Goodreads and Wattpad. But don’t just post and run, or leave content and/or links and take off. Be useful on every site you frequent. Answer questions. Build relationships, be generous. That’s how you build authority.
Darren Rowse, founder of the ultra-successful site Problogger, (full disclosure, that is an affiliate link!), is my blog coach idol. Per Darren, “Constantly revisit the core components of your blog. Stay relevant, follow the trends, and make sure you’re staying updated about where your readers are spending time and what they want to know about.”
Creating great content is key, but it’s just the foundation
There’s no doubt about it, great content must be the foundation of a good blog. In my opinion there are only three categories of posts that will keep people coming back. You need to …
- Provide information
- Charm and/or entertain readers
- Inspire people
If you’re not falling into one of these categories, you may draw visitors in but they won’t return. (Posts that tick more than one box are even better!)
Generate more interest with catchy blog titles
Back to content promotion: One trick that will enhance your chances for click-throughs on your links is to use a catchy blog title to create interest. Try one or all of these and you may see an increase in shares and visits:
- Ask a question. Examples: What’s An RSS Feed & How Do I Find It? or Print Vs. eBook. What’s Your Opinion?
- Appeal to the Big Issues we all have in common: Time, Money, Goals and Dreams. Examples: Getting Things Done: The Art of Workflow Management, or You Have To Believe.
- Offer value through tips and how-tos. Examples: My Top Ten Blog Blunders EVER, How to Set Up a FREE WordPress Blog, and one I haven’t tried but will someday, The secret of _______.
But keep in mind that your content must deliver. Per Darren, “It’s not just about getting people to your site, it’s about sharing information and creating a reputation so people will respect your content when you do share it.”
Engage the readers you have
Don’t forget to serve your current readers, because they’re key. Engage and empower them so they’ll share your site with their own networks. Make your readers want to subscribe and return. Tip: Your blog will grow faster if readers interact with your posts. One way to do that is to ask questions at the end of each article to encourage comments. Use your posts to begin a conversation.
You can also “reward” readers and subscribers by creating something that you can actively give away on your site. Your freebie can be content already published and repurposed into something readers will enjoy. Or, offer a giveaway as an incentive to subscribe.
Guest on other blogs and invite guests to yours
Darren says we should write high quality useful content for our own blogs, but save the best stuff for guest posts. When you’re thinking about guesting, target blogs that have the type of reader you want to draw to your own.
If your goal is to guest on a popular blog, the absolute best way to pitch established bloggers is to 1) understand the type of article they publish, 2) ask yourself what original, quality content you can contribute that will be useful to that blog’s readership, 3) write a great article that adds value on that subject, and 4) pitch it to them. You’ll likely be accepted.
The flip side is, of course, that you should also invite bloggers with a similar readership to guest on your blog. They’ll bring their friends with them when they visit, and everybody wins.
- Draw readers by understanding what type of content you can offer that they will relate to, return to and share. Write that content and post it.
- Seek your ideal reader out online and make your content available in those places without being pushy.
- Be kind, generous, and welcoming to everyone who visits your blog. Make them feel at home and want to return.
- Guest on other blogs with readers who will also be interested in what you have to say. Invite bloggers with a similar readership to guest post.
Readers, if you’re currently blogging, where have you had the best luck finding readers for your blog? Please leave a comment and share!
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