I’ve been blogging since before blogging was cool. Seriously – my first blog post appear on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004. I wasn’t trying to develop a following or promote anything special, I just wanted to stay in touch with my family on the other side of the country (this was before Facebook!). Since then, however, I’ve launched a business, started writing novels, and have created two new blogs. Unlike the first, these have a mission, and I’m hoping to attract more readers than my parents and sisters. That means more time and energy on each post, but there are a few simple tricks that will attract readers and keep them coming back to your blog.
- Give them something. It doesn’t have to be a physical product, but visitors should get something for their time and effort – knowledge, links, tips, suggestions. Even the most entertaining bloggers usually offer some kind of revelation that they can share with the world.
- Listen. Don’t write and run. Monitor your posts and respond. Let your readers know that you’re reading their comments. Let them know that they’re valued.
- Edit, edit – for the love of God – edit! It doesn’t matter how much you know or that you’re the leading expert in homemade hot glue – if your post is confusing, badly punctuated, or rambling, people won’t read it. People will judge your knowledge based on the quality of your blog post, so if writing isn’t your strength, have someone help you with it.
- Format it. It doesn’t matter how interesting the title is, if I go to an article or blog post and it’s one long page of continuous text with no spaces, graphics, or art work, I’ll skip it (and I’m a writer who loves to read – imagine how many non-readers run from those posts!). If the look of your post isn’t appealing, people won’t take the time to read it (not fair, but true). Use bullet points. Make lists. Leave white space.
- Use pictures.* When I started writing for a local paper, the edit told me up front – if you want to get on the front page, you need a good photo to go with your story. It doesn’t matter that the paper was published to distribute stories and words. The hard truth is that people judge a book by its cover, a newspaper by it’s front page photo, and a blog by its pictures.
These tips don’t guarantee that people will engage with your blog (you still have to provide good content!), but a few changes in these areas will definitely appeal more to the online reading audience.
*Stock photos are a great options when you’re getting started, and there are several sites where you can get free photos. Be careful, however, not to just pull pictures off Google Images and use them in your blog. You need to find a source that gives you permission to use their artwork, otherwise you could end up in a lawsuit.