Maybe you’ve been working away, uploading a blog post every other week but you feel like you’re speaking to a room with no one in it? Sadly, you probably are. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not necessarily because your posts are bad. It’s simply the fact that the Internet is overwhelmed with content.
At the time of writing, there are almost two billion websites online. That number is growing by the second. So it stands to reason that with such fierce competition, growing your blog audience is going to be some mean feat! But it is possible.
Let’s talk you through how to build your blog audience in 12 simple steps…
1. Know who you’re writing to
Lack of performance can be down to not honing in on your audience. For that, you’ll need to do a bit of a branding exercise, regardless of whether you’re a freelancer just looking to get your content read as widely as possible, or you’re a business looking to use your blog to increase conversions.
In short, know who you want to read your content and who is already reading your content and build a target demographic from there. Once you know who your target reader is, you can create content more geared towards them.
2. Have a content strategy
To keep your blog readership high, your content needs to be up to date, relevant and insightful. Do some research based on a few things:
- Your areas of expertise
- Keywords you want to rank for
- What your target audience is: talking about/interested in/concerned about/inspired by (follow them on social and see what hashtags, awareness days, campaigns and topics they’re passionate about)
Once you’ve put this together you can build a calendar. Hootsuite has a simple editorial calendar template you can steal with space for topic, posting date, and where and when you will promote each post.
3. Be consistent
Get ready to spend more time in front of your laptop because the best performing blogs post more than once a week. In actual fact, Hubspot noted how 92% of businesses that published to their blog several times a day gained at least one customer compared to the 56% of businesses that posted just once a month.
It’s also a good idea to stick to a set frequency, rather than publishing content at sporadic times, as Google will get used to the rate at which you publish and will cache your site accordingly.
4. Provide value
Once you know your target audience and you know what you want to write about, make sure you provide genuine value and insight. If you become known for consistently publishing content that rambles or is simply just an out and out sales message, your readers will switch off.
So what classes as insightful content?
- News – Information on what you’ve been up to, a behind-the-scenes look at how you develop and practice your skills, what new products or services you’re launching…
- Research – Position yourself as an industry leader by blogging about the latest developments in your field and how that impacts you and your customers/readers.
- Thought pieces – Take a topic relevant to your audience and tackle it from a new angle, or simply answer their burning questions in a way that highlights your position as a thought leader. A tool like Answerthepublic can help if you’re struggling for topics.
- Tutorials – If you’re a crafter, post a step-by-step tutorial on how to make a brooch. If you’re a freelance writer, provide a guide on how to write a press release. Yes, you’re providing information for free – that’s the point! But rather than turning customers away, it will show you are generous and are confident in your expertise, winning you more, not less custom.
5. Optimise your blog
When is the last time you visited a blog by typing the correct URL into your browser bar? Exactly. Your blog is going to get nowhere if you don’t optimise it for the search engines. There’s a lot more to SEO copywriting, but in essence, we’re talking:
- Keywords used in your meta data, URLs, headers and content
- Easy to read content
- Valuable content
- Useful links
- Lots of headings, bullet points and white space
Something else that will help is tidying up your site generally. Not only does modern website design make your content more attractive, it also ensures your content is easier to read and can respond to the medium we’re all using: mobile. If you’re considering a redesign of your blog, Squarespace and WordPress are two favourites.
6. Promote it!
This is critical to the success of your blog: once you’ve published your post, don’t forget about it! As SplashMedia editor Noemi Tasarra-Twigg told us,
“It’s often much easier to write article after article because we feel safer this way. It’s certainly less intimidating than putting it out there, asking others to share it and potentially receiving negative feedback as a result. [But] remember that your blog is effectively your online business.”
While tweeting a link to your blog once it’s up online can be a start, it’s not really enough. You need to set up a social media plan that ensures you’re not only regularly posting your own content but putting your blog’s brand out there into the big wide world. Only by regularly posting on social will you build your reputation amongst fans and attract new readers alike.
Part of this strategy could include running contests and polls, sharing posts from others, engaging with your readers, and starting topics of conversation or dropping into them (search for hashtags related to your business, industry or core audience).
7. Have a link-building strategy
You’ll notice your blog starts to gain more traction in the search results once you implement a good link-building strategy. That means linking to other posts you’ve published, other pages on your site, but also reputable sites out there that have a good reputation for posting quality content.
The key here, however, is to choose those smaller sites and influencers who will notice when you’ve linked to them and have enough time to link back or share your post on social. If yours is a personal blog, why not consider linking to it from your portfolio too? Another good tip can be implementing a guest post strategy (see below).
The other trick is not to get sucked in by black hat techniques, such as buying links back to your site. This will only end in tears as Google often blacklists those found guilty.
8. Publish elsewhere
Following on from the last point, consider reaching out to those who may have an audience you can tap into. Ask if you can write them a blog post for free in exchange for a link back to your site. They might wish to reciprocate or be happy for you to include a link to their site in one of your posts already published.
Another great way to get your content out there is to republish it on sites such as Medium or by starting a new question on Quora to answer with your post.
9. Enable comments (and reply!)
The comments section of your blog could be a great way to stir up some conversation. Consider enabling comments to allow people to share their thoughts on what you have to say. Be sure to check back in with it to keep the conversation going, and also to enable a spam filter such as Akismet. Since comments spaces can sometimes be ugly places, you might also want to filter them rather than let them publish automatically.
There’s nothing like a virtual or in-person meet and greet to get yourself known. You might decide to network on social media, comment on others’ posts and get involved in forums.
In person, you might consider putting your blog address on your business cards and mailing them out with invoices or goods, as well as handing them out at conferences, workshops and other networking events you attend.
11. Consider advertising
If you’ve tried all the above and really want to make a splash with your blog, consider creating an AdWords campaign which gets it noticed. Yes, it means monetary investment, so it might not be right for hobbyists or those new to blogging, but it could really raise your game if you’re already doing everything else to encourage organic traffic but you want to achieve higher click-through rates.
AdWords involves companies bidding for search terms in exchange for an ad appearing at the top of the search results. Once a user clicks through, the company is charged for the traffic. Quicksprout has some handy tips on using paid search for bloggers and Neil Patel offers some insight on how to increase your AdWords click-throughs.
12. Check your progress
You’ll only know how well your blog is performing if you actively monitor the results. That means setting up a Google Analytics account, tracking your results and actively using the data you find to inform your strategy. It should tell you who your customers are, what they’re searching for, what content they spend the most time on, what content causes them to leave, and what they click through to. As a starting point, this post from Neal Schaffer gives three key blog metrics you should be tracking in Google Analytics.
It’s not easy knowing how to build your blog audience, but if you give the above steps a good run for their money, you should see improvements within a few months. And the best bit is that once your readership grows, you can start to make money from your blogging.
For more insights, check out the rest of the Copify blog, or if you’d like to create engaging content that helps build your blog audience the easy way, consider using freelance bloggers.