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Reader Acquisition Strategies for New Bloggers

FindIt takes some courage to commit to writing a blog. You’re putting yourself out on the web with a written record of your thoughts and opinions. That transparency opens you up for instant ridicule or, after a lot of hard work, an ounce of respect. In essence, you’ve put your reputation on the line – any future employment opportunities may be dashed with a single mistake. Awesome!

You set up your blog on Blogger, TypePad or WordPress (recommended). Then you sit and think about that first blog post… hundreds of ideas are spinning in your head. How do you start? I tell folks to just do it and get it over with. I started with a rant on Mountain Dew advertising for breakfast. With your first post, unless you’re a known name, you’re starting with zero reputation and, probably, zero readers.

If I only knew then what I know now, the next few posts may have been a little bit different. I don’t regret the path I took, but I definitely could have acquired new readers much faster. I wasn’t concentrating on readers, I was just trying to get used to writing each day or so and getting a feel for it. A better route I could have taken would have been to write some great responses to other blog posts. I had read many a blog before I started but had not joined in the conversation. Had I done that, more bloggers with reputation would have read my blog and may have promoted my writing.

Tip #1 Along with some fresh posts, write about some other posts out in the blogosphere to jumpstart your readership. Be sure to utilize trackbacks.

After your first few posts, invite (bribe, demand, beg, threaten) your friends to read and comment on your posts. Comments really do lend credibility to a blog because it provides readers with both a sense of what your readers think of your site AND that your blog is worthy of commenting on. If you know other bloggers, encourage them to review your blog for you and throw you some ‘link love’.

Tip #2 Build up some comments and try to get some trackbacks from bloggers you know.

Alright, you went to the beauty salon and got the pretty faux hawk haircut, now it’s time to dress up and show off the new dew! Pour yourself into communities and social bookmarking sites. When I helped JD launch his blog, Black In Business, I got JD to join MyBlogLog and then I posted his blog on several social bookmarking sites, primarily StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon doesn’t require an actual post to rank – you can simply apply a description and some tags. StumbleUpon users with similar interests will stumble upon your blog and many will stick because of the common interests.

Tip #3 Take advantage of some blogging networks and social bookmarking sites.

As you continue writing, be sure to analyze your content. That will provide you with feedback of the posts that visitors are finding the most as well as the posts with the most hits. Along with your taking a look at your comments, now you can get a picture of a direction to take your blog content in. Go for it! Lather (clean up your content), rinse (drop the garbage) and repeat. Continue doing it and 500 posts later you won’t believe how far you’ve gotten.

Tip #4 Lather, rinse, repeat.

Last tip: Avoid the crap out there. Here’s a rule of thumb: any ‘Top Blogging’ site that requires that you install a badge, banner, or any other graphic, stay the heck away from. There’s no quick fix to a blog. Reputation takes time, building readership takes time, and building your ‘findability’ on search engines takes time. Avoid any blogging site that’s going to increase your blog ranking by you putting a graphic on your blog.

Tip #5 Avoid putting graphics on your site that simply advertise some crappy blogging aggregator who doesn’t give a crap about you.

8 Comments

  1. 1

    Great Post, Doug.

    Leaving good comments is definately a good way to get readership – you were the first to comment on my blog, and I have been a steady reader of your blog ever since. 😉

    Once more advice I might share is that of giving you blog a distinctive look and feel – don’t make it too complicated, it is dangerous to use too many plug-ins that add cool features. Many of those features are first helpful when you’ve gotten a sizable amount of posts.

    As Doug has previously mentioned, have some sort of incentive that keeps readers on your blog; many come via a search engine, and might read only one specific entry. If you, however, show some related posts at the end of your posts, they might stay a bit longer, and return, too!

  2. 3

    Awesome tips for new bloggers Doug.

    I second everything you’ve written.

    One other tip:

    Don’t give up! Sometimes it’ll feel like you’re talking to a friggin wall. Don’t worry, people are listening / watching even if they don’t respond. Keep at it!

    Just my $0.02 🙂

  3. 4

    That $0.02 is worth a million bucks, Tony! Bloggers get worried when they don’t get a lot of responses… but the truth is that 98% to 99% (literally… I’ve read some stats) of the people visiting your blog will never EVER leave a comment. So remember folks are reading and you’re doing a great job!

    It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

  4. 5

    Doug, your support has been very important and with out your guidance I would have struggled. The point is, it helps in the begining to have someone with more experience to help you understand you are headed right or making a fool of yourself. Regarding the networking sites, comment on other sites and make yourself known. Post with frequency and go where your heart carries you. I have a business blog but have also commented on sports ans politics.
    My mentor and role model is Doug Karr, number 3000 something in the world. It has been fun watching his blog gain readers at a stunning rate.

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