How To Find Readers For Your Blog

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.


photo by carnagenyc

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.


photo by Lars Kristian Flem

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 …

  1. Provide information
  2. Charm and/or entertain readers
  3. 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:

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.

photo by mtnbikrrrr

photo by mtnbikrrrr

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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Image Attributions: carnagenyc , Lars Kristian Flem mtnbikrrrr

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38 Responses to How To Find Readers For Your Blog

  1. Stephanie June 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Another great post, Molly and full of helpful information. I was just reading up on the importance of attracting readers that aren’t necessarily other writers. Thanks as always for filling my note app with a terrific “to do” list. I’ll be sure to share the post. Hope you’re doing well and continuing to move forward with all of your own projects.

    • Molly Greene June 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      That’s right, Steph, authors need to go out and find blog subscribers who aren’t necessarily writers and authors. Don’t do what I did – although I love my subscribers, I doubt that you will all be buying my novels. I might have to start another blog, lol!

  2. Susan C Shea June 17, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Molly, Good post as always. It applies to traditionally published authors just as much – believe me, no one does it for you unless you’re a superstar these days! I like the poll/survey idea and I readily admit I’m not sure WHO my RSS subscribers are demographically, much less WHY they follow me other than as loyal friends in some cases.

    So many people tell me they can’t possibly read all the blogs they’re already subscribed to and that they let reminders on Facebook pull them into occasional reads.

    One comment about your previous comment: So many of us writers, at least in crime fiction, are also readers that they’re legitimately part of the desirable demo!

    • Molly Greene June 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

      Susan! Thanks so much for your kind words and info. I think Twitter & FB are required promo platforms and I secretly agree that writers are readers and should be included in that demographic … but I’ve been shot down so many times after voicing that theory that I gave up. I read tons of books, as do most authors. Also, I need to do a post about conducting polls & surveys – I’ll put it on my list!

  3. Nancy M. Dickinson June 17, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    To be honest, Molly, I know I need to do this but I simply don’t have time! I’d like to find someone who could do it for me, giving him/her a title and having them roam the internet, becoming a mover and shaker on the boards, all with a link to my website in their signature.

    • Molly Greene June 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      I hear you! I think all we can really do is choose a couple of platforms we enjoy and focus on them, then maybe add something into the mix now and then when it makes sense. I love Twitter so have focused my blog promo efforts there, and it’s paid off for me. Other authors prefer Facebook and have good results there – but I think we really all need to be on Goodreads with our fictional works. Hmm, I guess I’d better get busy ;-O

      • Nancy M. Dickinson June 17, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

        I get almost zero engagement on the FB page, even when we run contests. Unfortunately, FB is becoming nearly irrelevant in the world unless you’re sharing photos of kittens and puppies. People just want to click and go on.

        I’m seeing my Twitter and Pinterest traffic on the uptick, with more RTs and re-pins.

        • Molly Greene June 17, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

          Phew, because I neglect FB horribly. I fired up on Pinterest but haven’t kept it up. Twitter was/is my first and best love :-O

        • Ellen June 18, 2013 at 8:16 am #

          Phew, it’s not just me. I mean, I’m sure I could utilize FB better but I see it as being more and more irrelevant, too.

          I’ve not been converted to Pinterst for my novel, yet, but obviously, I’m missing the connection. Must revisit.

          Goodreads is a great resource but I find interaction to be stymied and clumsy (too spoiled by twitter). Probably just need to learn to use GR better!

          Thanks for another valuable post, Molly!

          • Molly Greene June 18, 2013 at 8:34 am #

            I’ve heard other authors report that Goodreads is clunky to use – but maybe now that Amazon owns it the platform will improve (or not). We’ll see!

  4. David June 17, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Thanks, Molly. One of the bigger draws I’ve found has been commenting on other similar blogs. I’ve never done a guest post but a group of about 6 of us did a simultaneous post on the same subject and linked to each other.

    I’ve been lame about promotion. My biggest traffic was when others mentioned an article in one of the social networking services. It really helps if the title includes a famous name and something like “10 tips” or “7 ways”. When those happened together, I got thousands of hits. But it was all skimmers, people who flitted through. In one case, fewer than 1% clicked though to read the rest of the article. As a result, I don’t spend the time on that.

    A friend who emphasized success techniques and titles like the above and started a blog at about the same time, grew traffic very quickly and got a large following. He also did lots of self-promotion.

    Net result, my traffic has grown mainly by word of mouth but I have some avid readers now.

    • Nancy M. Dickinson June 18, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      Interestingly enough, David, Peter Greenberg just did a blog post about his being so tired of articles that are lists, and I tend to agree.

      We’ve become a short-term interest world, sadly, and the attention span of the average reader has become so short.

      A study was done last year in the UK that showed:

      1. If a page took longer than 1 to 5 seconds to load, the reader was gone.
      2. The average reader doesn’t want paragraphs, but bullet points or numbered lists
      3. If you don’t have sub-headings, you lose readers. Readers want to scan sub-headings to find what they’re looking for first, and decide on the rest later.

      In short, we are becoming a world of scanners, not actual readers. I did notice when I changed the theme on my site to it’s current one, my bounce rate dropped down to almost nothing. My old theme was clunky and slow. It worked great when I got it, but I quickly outgrew it. I went from an average bounce rate of 80% to (seriously) 5% since I changed the theme a month ago. Old theme took about 4 seconds to load, current theme loads in under a second.

      Sadly, we as blog owners have to compensate for the lack of attention our readers now have. As much as we as writers hate the cute lists, that’s what readers want.

  5. Anne R. Allen June 17, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Superb advice! Target your reader and you’ll save time in the long run. And guest blogs are great. We’ll have to exchange posts sometime soon…

    • Molly Greene June 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

      Anne, your blog is such a fabulous, comprehensive and informative resource for authors I’d probably be nervous to throw my hat in the ring there – but yes! let’s do! I’d be so thrilled to have you!

  6. Cat Williams June 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Thank you Molly, great stuff, and very relevant to me as I try to build my audience! I am blogging about relationships, relationship dilemmas and ‘finding happiness’ so I hope my blog will appeal to many, I just have to find them and tell them about it?! Thanks, Cat xx

    • Molly Greene June 17, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

      Inspire, entertain, enlighten! Then get out and tell the world your happiness-building point of view. I like Twitter for that – build your followers and share there!

  7. Cassandra Charles June 17, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Great post. This is valuable information for new bloggers as well as existing bloggers. I think good content is the key thing here. And it needs to be done on a regular basis and not just to lure people in. In the end, they’ll just go elsewhere.
    You seem to write blog posts for writers, but have you written many directly to your readers? I’ve visited your blog quite a few times now, and i still don’t know what type of books you write!

  8. Pamela Beason June 17, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Great tips, Molly! Wattpad is new to me; I’ll check it out.

    I’m all over the place, in my writing and my life. I feel like I have readers everywhere except online. Since I’m very outdoorsy and a lot of my readers are hikers and kayakers and scuba divers, too, it’s a little hard to connect with them via social media. Arg. Maybe I’ll just paint signs on my backpack and kayak and scuba tank.

    • Molly Greene June 17, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

      PAM! Book promo isn’t “one size fits all.” And not every author needs to blog. You’re doing great – if it’s not broke don’t fix it! But if you try Wattpad please report back w/your results!

    • Laura Zera June 17, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

      Pam, you need to get stickers made and go ’round in the park parking lots and stick them on *other people’s Thule boxes.*

  9. Laura Zera June 17, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

    Molly, I’ve had a lot of fun meeting people who are regular readers of other people’s blogs (blogs I read, too) and then becoming friends with them over time. It’s the overlapping circles principle.

  10. Elizabeth Ducie June 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

    Great post, Molly, as always. The authors vs. readers debate is one that concerns me as well. My blog is also specifically aimed at writers, and many of my FB and Twitter friends are writers too. But presumably all those writers (as well as being readers themselves) have readers in their networks – and that’s the secondary marketing that is as important as the primary bits.

    • Molly Greene June 18, 2013 at 7:12 am #

      Agreed, Elizabeth. I guess it hinges on whether or not our author subscribers share our posts with their networks!

  11. Debbie A. McClure June 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Great post here Molly! I’ve been blogging for about a year now, and at first I was apprehensive about the whole thing. I had no idea what I was doing, but over time I think I’ve developed my “voice”. As with anything new, it takes time to build an audience, and then convince them to come back. I’m happy to say that I’m now gaining a growing number of followers and commenters, using many of the suggestions you’ve pointed out here. It’s posts like these that are so important to new writers, since we usually don’t have a clue what we’re doing, only that we’re supposed to be doing it.


    • Molly Greene June 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      Debbie, thank you so much for the kind words and for stopping by my blog! I know how tough it is for authors and new bloggers to even figure out what we need to know, much less find the time to master it. I’ve discovered that blogging brings a lot more benefits with it than just followers – confidence, re-usable content, online friends, knowledge and direction to name a few – and it’s definitely changed my life for the better. And I had no idea what I was doing when I started, either!

  12. Kayjai June 20, 2013 at 5:29 am #

    Very helpful information and put into a well written format. Thanks for all the tips and I look forward to more of your insights. I’ve been blogging for a while and I find it to be very erratic in reader attentiveness. I’ll try out some of your suggestions..some I have been doing for a while. Thanks, again.

    • Molly Greene June 20, 2013 at 7:15 am #

      Hi Kayjai! Once I began to use the WordPress plugin “Tweet old Posts” and regularly shared older blog posts in my Twitter stream I found my daily page views became more stable. You might try it!

  13. Rinelle Grey June 22, 2013 at 2:03 am #

    My best success has been in joining in blog competitions (like the A to Z blogging challenge), and blog hops. This brings new traffic in, and then as you said, the trick is to have content that makes them want to stay!

    I’ve nominated you for The Very Inspiring Blogger award, so if you get a chance, come and check it out.

  14. C. R. Myers July 8, 2013 at 5:57 am #

    Great information, Molly. Timely writing tips are always welcome. I enjoy reading your blog and know when I come here, I’ll learn something new.. Keep up the great work.

    Cat 🙂

    • Molly Greene July 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      … and I so appreciate your support, Cat!

  15. Bill DePaolo August 27, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    Molly, I’m curious as to how to balance my fiction writing from my blogging.
    My blog is of a political/satirical nature. Do you see a potential conflict?

    • Molly Greene August 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

      Do any of your fictional characters have a political/satirical personality? If so, your blog would be exploring a nonfiction topic you write about in your fictional work. If not, I have two suggestions 1) create a character with the personality 2) slowly, slowly add/explore other topics on your blog – hopefully nonfiction topics you “touch on” in your novels. Make sense? Hope this helps!

  16. Diane Holcomb September 22, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    Posting comments on other people’s websites draw readers to mine. The biggest uptick in readers for me happened when a friend posted one of my tweets on her Facebook page.

    What about humor writers? I blog about finding the funny in anxiety-provoking situations, Any tips on finding my audience? Doesn’t seem right, somehow, to promote my blog on anxiety forums. I suppose a useful comment would be appropriate, tho.

    I also blog short fiction, so my blog is perhaps too unfocused.

    • Molly Greene September 22, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

      Hi Diane! Molly Campbell, Erica Lucke Dean, Lorca Damon are all humor writers who tackle different subjects and find the humor in them – find them on Twitter and Facebook and see where they hang out. That’s the answer, really – to locate others writing on similar subjects with similar spins and watch what they do!

  17. Mila September 25, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    This is an interesting article and I hope with your tips I can find some new readers for my blog, because it’s different only to write for yourself!