The Problogger runs a fantastic series of webinars, all you have to do is sign up and join in… so far I have attended his Monitization Webinar and my personal favourite his Webinar Interview with Simple Mom.
The topic today was Finding Readers for Your Blog and as he says – there is no one way for a blog to find new readers and every blog has a unique way of growing. His blog, Problogger had very slow beginnings and then one great day it exploded and never lost those new readers. Generally the growth is slow and steady. And at some stage many blogs taper off… this is when bloggers give up or stop caring too much!!! One of his other blogs, Digital Photography School just keeps on growing enormously month by month in an unprecedented way, the graph he showed was off the charts. The point of the demonstration confirmed that all blogs are indeed different and have their own reader growth spectrums.
I think for our blog, I was simply amazed that other folk ever read our blog!!! I didn’t even know how to have comments at first and for the longest time didn’t have comments. Once I figured that out it was a lot easier to write for specific readers as readers became more connected. There are definite seasons to growing a blog and I didn’t realise that it was something I had any control over before I had blogged for quite a while and I could see that some posts generated a whole lot more traffic than others. Our blog only began to grow significantly when I began spending a lot of time off our blog, and loved strategic commenting and seeing the number of readers grow as a result of that. The next significant blog grower for us was a shift from doing all the promotion myself to loyal readers sharing what they liked particularly on Pinterest… I have little control over what folk pin but I do know when folk visit as a result of seeing a pin they like that they do stay and read a couple of other pages at the same time… Our blog continues to grow and I love that thousands of folk visit our blog. I think my takeaway from this webinar is to get to know my readers a whole lot better… I have to say when I do write I usually write for a particular person that has asked a question or suggested a topic. So the more readers that suggest what they would like to hear the more I can write for our particular readers.
The Problogger’s Nine Principles for Finding Readers:
- Identify WHO You Want to Reach:
- Create the Content that Meets Your Reader’s Needs:
- Identify Where Your Readers Gather:
- Build a Presence Where Your Readers Gather:
- Engage the Readers You Have:
- Give People Relevant and Easy Ways to Subscribe and Belong to Your Community.
- Use Those Methods to Drive Traffic to Your Site.
- Create Share-able Content:
- Keep Repeating All of the Above…
The tip is to create reader profiles and then write to those readers. Who is your reader? What do they want to know, what are their needs, what are their challenges? He has a fabulous post where he creates reader profiles for Gareth, Grace and Keith. I love the detail he provides… Definitely something I can learn from.
Knowing your reader will help you to find new readers. You can use surveys to discover more about your readers, Surveymonkey.com is a great resource for that. Polls help you identify specifics about your reader profiles, which is so useful as they enable potential advertisers to see what products would appeal to that particular blog’s market. The Problogger has used polls to develop Pinterest boards, now that is a great idea!!!
Now that you know who your reader is you can build a useful blog, full of great content specifically for them. Any other strategy, such as guest posting or commenting, counts for nothing if new readers have nothing fabulous to read when they arrive at your site. You need a foundation of good useful content to keep your readers interested. The reality is, creating good content is not enough, you have to get off your blog and seek your readers out.
Which social networks are your readers on: flickr, Twitter, Pinterest,… You can use a poll to determine this. 72% of Problogger readers are on Facebook. Honestly it never occurred to me to think about this, though I do get a lot of traffic from Pinterest that doesn’t mean that that is where my readers are hanging out online.
Develop a presence and be useful on the relevant social media. This is such a useful tip – you don’t have to spread yourself thin and try and be everywhere… just go and find your readers where they are!!! Leave useful comments and answer questions, that help to build relationships and authority. If that is where your readers are then that is the place to be generous and sharing links to others… not just links about your wonderful self… but useful links within your niche. The more generous you are the more folk trust and that gives you credibility and builds your traffic as folk turn to you as an authority. The Problogger has worked on developing a Pinterest presence in the last week. I have to smile it has taken me since the beginning of Pinterest to feel that I have a smidgen of a presence there!!!
So true… Be loyal to your loyal readers – don’t be greedy and always off seeking more. Build your community. Sharing information and building loyal readers is far better for long term growth than instantaneous social media shout outs. Get your readers to do something when they are visiting, it means that they are thinking about your site and they are getting more engaged. He has a weekly photography challenge for his readers to join, which means they are thinking about his site even when they are not on his site. It keeps his readers loyal, to see and they keep coming back for new challenges.
Email, RSS, Twitter, FaceBook and Social Media. Make it easy for your readers to connect with you. His biggest “connector” is his weekly newsletter via email, that he began to help his dad follow him.
As a reader subscribes he sends a welcome email and then he has a cycle of email updates so that it is always changing: He uses weekly updates, themed updates, seasonal updates and promotions. It isn’t always the same old format, but it cycles through. You can use this to drive readers deeper into your site as well, linking back to fabulous past posts helps new readers to discover great content.
And the Se7en + 1th Principle:
As your blog grows ands your readers will naturally start to share the great information on your site, they will do some of the “finding new readers” job for you. By serving your current readers, you give them something that they will like to share. And it doesn’t always have to be brand new fresh content… list link round ups are great. Humour and tutorials are always popular, link them to past tutorials and drive traffic deeper into your blog. Folks love to share inspiration… give your readers something inspiring… let’s say that again… people love to share inspiration!!!
Research your readers… discover their favourites topics, tools, whatever it is a great way top generate discussion and build some buzz. A good place to see what your readers like is to see what they are pinning on Pinterst. Take a look at Pinterest.com/source/your url. Then look at what other blogs like yours are have pinned and shared. Find out what folk really like and then make sure your content reflects that. Consider other ways of presenting the material you have. This week Problogger created a ZEEN: “What is the best of DPS?” Most popular posts of the year… a fun way to create ways to meet new readers and provide them with great content at the same time.
And the se7en + 1th + another 1th Principle:
He Went on to Talk About a Couple of Strategies for Finding Readers:
- Hook your readers: Give your reader something to do at the end of some posts, invite them to subscribe at the end of a post: “Want more posts like this then Invite them to subscribe…”
- Create momentum and suspense on your site: Write a series of posts… leave your readers expecting more… more of the same, more of something new. He grew his blog enormously with his 31 Days to a Better Blog Series. I know I loved that series and it set me on the road to blogging and keep on blogging… and then blog a bit more!!!
- Guest posts: Guest posts are touted as the great blogger grower but there are certain things you need to think about first: Make it relevant to the blog you are visiting; Get to know the blogger and have a relationship before you suggest a guest post; Post on similar blogs to your own, it gives credibility to your blog and your voice as an authority within your niche.
- Linking Back into your Blog: Every page that a reader reads is another chance to deepen their engagement. Also linking back, especially within your first paragraph, means that when someone scrapes your content they will scrape your links as well.
- Creating a Presence on Other Blogs: In his earlier days the Problogger spent a lot more time on other blogs… now that his blog is established his readers do a lot of the sharing and he now concentrates on building community on his own blog.
- How much Time Should be Spent in Promoting: Is there such a thing as too much time spent promoting? Definitely, you need to find a balance between providing readers with content and engaging them.
- Best time to post: Most of his readers are US readers and he posts as the readers wake up. HE also posts at the end of the working day, when folk get home and are sitting the couch reading their iPads – How does he know what we are up to?!!!
- Wide Spectrum vs. Focused Topics: Would you reach a wider audience by concentrating on a small niche topic Small of subjects for a large audience or focus in on a narrow topic. Again there is a balance…
And the Se7en + 1th Strategy:
You can listen to a recording of the webinar here, Finding Readers for Your Blog as well as look at a pdf of the notes with tons more information!!!
Sign up and follow the Probloggers Webinars he loves sharing useful information… and his webinars are a great way to learn heaps of tips… His next webinar is on Blog Design… trust me I will be there!!!