No blogging tips event would be complete without the question we all want answered: how can we get people to read our blog? While stats aren’t everything, it is nice to know that you have an audience and your effort in blogging is being appreciated. So here are some I’ve found useful for increasing traffic and community.
Join Social Media
My first year of blogging, I was not on social media. Joining Twitter was a little scary for me, but the move really showed off in our stats. More people were aware of my blog, and it was an easy way to promote posts people might have missed. And, of course, the book community is really active on Twitter, so it helped me feel more engaged.
While joining Twitter is a great choice for a book blogger, the best social media, of course, is the one that you commit to. If join a lot of different sites but don’t like them or don’t have the time to properly utilize them, they’re not going to help you as much. Find the platforms you enjoy and find success with, and focus your attention on them.
Participate in Memes
Participating in weekly memes like Waiting on Wednesday or Top Ten Tuesday is a great way to connect with the community. You’ll be able to visit the blogs of others who are participating and leave comments, and many of them will visit your blog.
Sign Up for Events
Join hosted events like Bloggiesta, Armchair BEA, or read-alongs. This will give you a core group of bloggers you can connect with as you post on the same topics and join in on each other’s discussions. Many events also include Twitter chats, which can help further connect you to the community.
Alternatively, you can host your own event. The downside is that, if your traffic is currently low, sometimes it’s hard to get the event enough publicity that people will sign up. Asking specific bloggers if they’d be interested in contributing a guest post to an event you think they would be particularly interested is often more effective than putting out a general call for submissions/participants. Otherwise, hosting an event will probably work better for medium and large blogs than for small ones. For instance, Krysta and I started our first Tolkien Reading Event in 2012 by asking specific bloggers to participate. For this years’s Tolkien Reading Event, we ere able to post a sign-up sheet and the guest posters came to us. (Thanks, guest posters!)
The primary goal of commenting obviously is not to drive traffic to your blog. However, it’s a huge help. Remember that people can only visit your blog if they have heard of it, and one way to draw it to their attention is to introduce yourself and involve yourself in the bookish community. If you leave thoughtful comments and show interest in what others are saying, they’ll show interest in what you’re saying.
Do Something Unique
Readers will be interested in your blog if they feel you’re offering them something that other blogs don’t. That could be a simple as a a unique voice or a fresh way of writing reviews, or something as more structured like the Bookish Games hosted at Oh the Books. Personally, I’ve found writing of Sunday round-up of interesting posts popular, presumably because people like that I’ve done the work of finding the posts for them, so they don’t need to dig through a feed of over 300 blogs to find a good discussion post.
Less Successful Things I’ve Done
I love guest posting, and I actually plan on writing some guest posts this year because I like reaching new audiences and collaborating with other bloggers. However, I have to disagree with other blogging advice articles I’ve seen that suggest guest posting is a great way to build traffic. First, this is probably only really true if you guest post on a very popular blog. They’ll have a large audience you can reach, and the link back might be good for your SEO if it’s from a reputable site. However, my experience in the book blogosphere is that the “big” bloggers don’t generally solicit guest posts–not for any particular reason I’m aware of, but they just don’t. Second, my personal experience with guest posting is that very few people click through from the original post to my blog. So guest posting might help with a long traffic game–if people get used to seeing my name about the blogosphere–but it doesn’t bring instant hits.
People seem to approach interviews in the same way they approach guest posts. They’ll read the interview, but they probably won’t comment on it, and practically no one will click back to your blog to find out who you are. Again, I like doing interviews with other bloggers, and maybe it helps in the long-run with name recognition, but that’s about it.
I’m talking more specifically about the pros and cons of giveaways tomorrow, so I’ll make a short note here: I think giveaways can be useful for traffic building, but people tend to be interested mainly if the giveaway is international, if the prize is big (like a box of books), or they’re getting a gift card for a book of their choice. Single-book giveaways get a lot less interest.