There are a lot of people who start blogging who think that “if you build it they will come” (like in the movie Field of Dreams). So you start writing about whichever subject you like and start looking at your statistics and….nothing (or not much), which can be very frustrating. Why aren’t people reading what you are writing? Why don’t they leave comments? The reality is that there are a lot of blogs out there and getting noticed or getting people to follow you takes time and effort. Since I’ve been blogging for a while I thought it would be a good idea to write down some useful tips to increase the number of people who want to read what you write.
You could compare running a blog with setting up a shop. First ask yourself why should people visit? What do you have to offer them which will turn them into “loyal customers” with whom you can build up a relationship? It’s good to know your own strengths and use them. Of course it’s also important to make your storefront look good, if it looks bad people will not want to come in. Reading is a visual experience so make sure you use fonts which are easy on the eye as well as a color scheme which has a good contrast (so no yellow letters on a green background). Your writing could be in any format you like, but make sure that it’s not one big block of words. Break things up in paragraphs because it will make it less daunting to read it.
Also ask yourself when your shop is open. When can your readers expect something new from you? I set myself the goal to do at least five posts a week and try to stick to it, usually scheduling posts in advance. If people know they can read something new each weekday they might want to come back often to check it out. This will be less likely to do so if you only post something every few weeks.
Ask your friends to look at your blog and give tips on how to make it better. I did so when I started out with a Dutch version of this blog (which I’m also still running) and it eventually lead to My Filmviews because a colleague thought it would be read more and he was right about it.
If you are writing reviews it’s good to break things up with a regular feature. Some blogs have weekend roundups (for example Flixchatter and Front Room Cinema) , some have regular questions (here it’s The Monday Question, Fogs Movie reviews has The Great Debates), or run a poll (for example on The Focused Filmographer). It could be something else, like my Friday feature “The Many Faces of…”, just think of something you think is fun doing each week. They allow you to engage with your audience in a different way and are a reason for people to come back.
So your site is now looking good, has an interesting (or more) regular feature(s) and know when you will be scheduling new posts, so you can say you’ve built it, but how do you make people come to your wonderful spot? The most important thing in blogging is community and interacting with others. So visit other blogs about the same subject and leave comments about the thing someone is writing about. Don’t just respond to lots of sites in the hope they will visit yours, try to get to know the other person through what they are writing because it makes blogging a lot more interesting. If you want to find blogs about a specific subject WordPress.com is a good place to start as you can look up various topics. If you want to find great movie related sites the LAMB is the spot to go.
When you have left a comment somewhere it’s also a good idea to look at the comments others have made to an article. Make it a habit to click through at least one of the sites these bloggers are running and comment there as well. If you are worried that you have to visit too many sites each day to keep up just subscribe to them and new posts will be delivered to you by mail. Also make sure that the settings on your own blog are correct to provide this to others (I wrote an article on this a while ago). Also make sure that you make commenting on your blog as easy as possible, because people are not willing to jump through hoops just to tell you their opinion. It’s also helpful to ask questions at the end of your post as it indicates that you want to know the opinion of someone else.
Twitter and Facebook are also valuable tools in building a network. WordPress offers the option to do a post on both of the networks when a new post is up. Retweets by others or likes on Facebook can drive extra traffic your way. Try to regularly visit Twitter and Facebook so you are not only posting there, but also actively interacting with others and retweeting articles of them you enjoy.
Blogathons are also a great way to get people to notice your blog. For those who don’t know what a blogathon is, it’s basically a list of questions which you want answered by other bloggers on their own sites. You create a blog post for the blogathon and link to all their answers. Take your time thinking of one and try to start it when you know some other bloggers who are interested in joining.
Also try to write articles that could be helpful to others. When IMDB changed its look ago many people didn’t like the new look, but didn’t know there is a possibility to revert it back to the old one. The article I wrote about it was very well read and two years after it is still read a couple of times each month.
If you are a movie blogger you might not know that it’s possible to add links to your reviews on IMDB. Just log into the site, search for the movie you reviewed and scroll to the bottom of the page. Press the ‘Edit Page’ button, scroll to External Reviews and select Add 1 Item. Follow the rest of the instructions and within a couple of days your link shows up on the site. It might not result in thousands of views, but it will generate some traffic once in a while.
Hope these tips will help you in making your blog even better!
Do you have any other tips which might be useful?