A projected 128 million people in America read blogs. That’s a massive readership – and one you’re missing out on if you don’t have a blog or aren’t optimizing the one you currently produce. As a marketing technique, blogs are the best way to develop a strong, authentic voice for your brand, to communicate news and updates, and to connect with other like-minded individuals or organizations. With high-quality, dynamic content, your blog will be the best ambassador for your brand.
But all the great content in the world won’t make a difference if you aren’t able to attract readers. There are a variety of techniques, both internal (optimizations you make to your blogging) and external (ways to make your blog more visible) that will ensure you get more readers and keep them loyal.
Your blog is not your brand
The strongest personal blogs – those with a devoted readership, an original voice, and a clear focus – stem from a specialized passion, one that fuels the writer’s desire to connect to a community. These bloggers know that the best material comes from a place of genuine passion. Don’t make attracting new readers your primary goal. Readers can sense inauthenticity, and if your blog sounds like an advertisement, your audience will flee.
Brand blogs have a different goal – to publicize the company or product – but the same principle applies. A good rule of thumb is only to write what you actually want to read. Make your content genuine. Don’t try to hide what makes your voice or opinion – celebrate it! The ultimate purpose of marketing is to drive sales, but if you go for the hard sell rather than trying to entertain and educate, you’ll turn off more customers than you turn on.
Mix it up
Most blogging platforms can support a variety of media, from photos to videos to music. Use them. Image-driven marketing will be one of the strongest trends in 2014 and be using thoughtfully chosen and compelling visuals can help add dynamism to your posts. Break up blocks of text with interesting videos or playlists – anything that adds another layer or gives your reader a way to refocus on your content and make it easier to read. Punchy, shareable videos and images are often the ones that will gain real traction in the virtual world.
Keep it regular
One of the biggest risks in blogging is boredom – both for you and your readers. If you get bored of your content, your readers will too. Variety is key here, but so is regular posting – yet another reason why it’s so important to only engage with work that genuinely interests you.
A surefire way to lose readers is by dropping out of cyberspace for weeks at a time. You want to maintain a regular presence to keep readers returning and to attract new readers. This is where sharing content from other blogs or news sites becomes useful, as it keeps you active without the need for producing an original post every day, as well as offering a way to connect with your community. In addition, link your blog to your social networking profiles. If you don’t have enough content for a full post, take to Twitter or Facebook. Social sites are also a great place to chat with your audience in a more immediate forum.
No blog is an island. Connect with other bloggers who are working in similar fields and build a community that thrives on the vibrant exchange of information and ideas. Join forums that attract similar industry professionals to participate in a more global conversation. Additionally, since the best time to engage an audience is when they’re already in content consumption mode, treat your blog as a hub for related and interesting content. Drive traffic to other blogs you respect, and experiment with content discovery platforms such as Outbrain Amplify to help distribute your work across networks where you’ll be visible to an audience that might otherwise not have had reason to go looking for you. Finally, be prepared to respond to any comments on your blog – both positive and negative!
Don’t be afraid to really engage with your new readers.
These simple tools should help you attract new readers to your blog and motivate your current audience to share your content more widely. Now get blogging!