In this session from the 2011 Problogger Training Day, Darren gave us his ‘9 point theory’ on finding readers for your blog. He emphasised that this is NOT a hard and fast formula, but as far as formulas go … it’s a great place to start!
1. Know who you want to read your blog
- In the early days of Problogger and Digital Photography, Darren went so far as to create profiles of individual people that he thought would be reading his blog. When he wrote his posts, he wrote his posts for this person.
- This is a really important thing to note. When you write a post as if you are writing it for a single person (almost like an email), your style is instantly more relaxed, conversational and authentic. And we all know it is this authenticity that creates a connection between yourself and your readers.
2. Create content to meet their needs
- When you create a reader profile, you should cover things like “what are the problems this person has”
- Once you know their problems, you can create content that addresses these needs. Again, this assists in establishing a connection: “Hey, this guy is telling me how to solve my problems for free!”
3. Identify where your readers gather
- This is another really important one. If your readers are all in an online discussion forum somewhere, then you can tweet away for 12 hours a day and not gather any extra readers that way. If your readers are on facebook, you need to be on facebook.
4. Build a presence in those areas – be useful, not spammy
- A few of the panellists on the day noted that they frequented websites in similar niches to theirs and commented (usefully!) on their posts.
- Caz Makepeace cited guest posting on related sites as a prime strategy for bringing new readers to her site.
- Other bloggers I know frequent discussion forums in their niche, providing assistance and tips. Having their web address in their signature makes it easy for people to make the short trip from forum to website
5. Engage the readers you have already
- I think Darren’s words were “Love your readers to death”. In other words, don’t forget about your existing readers in your pursuit for new readers. Build your online community and engage with your existing readers regularly.
6. Give people relevant and easy ways to subscribe to your newsletter and/or blog
- Find the method your readers want to use and give it to them. For instance, if you’re a mummy blogger, you probably don’t need an e-newsletter, but you definitely want people to subscribe to you via RSS or email.
- Darren said his Digital Photography followers love email, but don’t understand RSS
7. Use the methods from #6 to engage and drive traffic
- In other words, if your readers are all subscribed via email, then send them an email with links back to the great content on your site.
- If you use RSS, then make sure your feed is set up correctly (ie full feed – most people HATE a partial feed)
8. Create shareable content
- Experiment with this one – test and tweak
- Shareable content includes:
- Funny posts – particularly with a funny picture
- How to posts
- Posts putting forth a controversial view
9. Repeat all of the above