1. Be consistent. We are all creatures of online habit, and if you are hoping to build traffic and a regular audience, it’s essential to worm your way into people’s routines (much harder than actually getting them to like you!). And in order to do this, it’s important to have a posting frequency that your audience knows and expects. Whether you blog/Tweet/Tumble once a day, five times a day, or once a week (but not less than that), know thy social media schedule and keep it holy.
2. Reach out and comment someone. The best way to build traffic is to be noticed. Pick a few well-trafficked blogs and/or Forums, become a fixture, get to know the regulars, write witty comments, and try to attract people naturally your way. The more you invest in other people, and I mean genuinely invest in them, the more they’ll be willing to return the favor. Better yet, you might even make some wonderful real-life friends.
3. Take the long view. A following is not built overnight. When impatience enters the picture there’s a temptation to be overly controversial, which is a good short-term way of getting traffic, but damaging in the long term. If you make everyone mad people will definitely stop by, but chances are they won’t be back.
4. Find your niche. The Internet abhors a vacuum, and it’s important to think about what unique information or perspective you will provide. Be as unique and interesting as possible, and make yourself stand out from the pack.
5. Short paragraphs. There are few things less inviting than a massive wall of text. Twitter forces you to be brief, but everywhere else make your paragraphs short and punchy.
6. SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Think about your post titles and imagine what someone would Google if they wanted to know about the topic you’re talking about. The more links you receive from other sources the higher your search results, and the more natural traffic you’ll receive.
7. Be selfless. It’s not about you, it’s about your readers and followers. Think about what you are providing them and deliver the goods.
Anne R. Allen says
Anon 10:32–I was talking about apologizing for not blogging–not apologizing for a mistake. We all do that from time to time and should own up.
Heidi C. Vlach says
Good advice. I'm going to work on titling my posts better — because whimsical mental tangents sure do amuse me, but I can't imagine they're very helpful for search indexing.
J.M. Lacey says
You're right on with your tips. Thanks for sharing with us! Blogging is still marketing, and that takes time, consistency, and understanding your target audience.
It's true. I do print and web design all day long and am regularly confounded by how many people have no strategy when it comes to social marketing. I find most have better results if they set aside a certain block of time each day to either get their message out or support others.
It also doesn't hurt to contact professionals, if that is at all possible, as this stuff is in constant flux.
Scooter Carlyle says
I know I'm no poster child for what to do online, but I do know I have un-followed people for the following reasons:
2. Snarky words. Constantly. Nearly every post.
3. I agree with Terry Odell that it's inappropriate to post an advertisement as a comment.
Carson Lee says
"Walls of text": on my blog, I sometimes put spaces between paragraphs and then when I click "publish" — it comes out without the spaces. Some Internet hidden force or something closes up my spaces which had created read-able islands of text and makes the islands back into a wall.
It's like — "May the force be with you," and the Force IS with me, and it's f—–g with my paragraphs…!?! is there a way for me to deal with this?
Great advice. Especially loved the last one. We need more people to be selfless in this world and in the blogosphere.
1) I've learned it's good to have a photo of yourself on the sidebar, or some element on the page that's always there. A photo of your face — not anything extremely goofy or artistic. It lets people know there's a human behind the blog, and it's unique branding.
2) People should come to your blog for your writing for the most part, not anything else. A robot can set up a contest or do any of the gimmicky stuff that overloads the internet.
Thanks for this. I agree with Terry Odell's comment, "don't use someone else's blog to tout your own wares." It's great if they'll do it for you, and the favour should be returned, but tacky in the extreme to impose yourself.
I think it's very important to have patience. Success through writing online, whether it's blogging, publishing content, or owning a website, is a slow and steady climb.
Perseverance is key.
I had to laugh when I saw #7, I'm giving a two-hour blogging workshop called 'It's not about you.'
Great post, as always. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Natalie Aguirre says
Great advice. Consistency, not posting too long posts, and selflessness are really so important. I never thought of SEO, but if I ever have a blog, I will.
The Red Angel says
These are such good tips! Thanks so much, Nathan. 🙂 I'm still a young blogger and though I have gotten quite a few followers, I hope to build up my reputation in the blogosphere and gradually make myself more known to others. I'm going to share this post with one of my friends, who has just started her own blog. 😀
Sharon K. Mayhew says
I think it's about making personal connections…remembering things about your followers and noticing things. If someone is absent for a while, email or fb them to check and see if they are okay. Perhaps they've had some rejections and need to know they matter. Your email might just be the thing to keep them going…
Number five! Could we please broadcast this one to some of my friends who write in the "running blog" genre? Paragraphs, please!!! I only skim because you're my friends, but seriously, no one else is reading that giant block of text. Ugh!
And number one is, I think, number one for a reason. I really saw my traffic jump when I became a more frequent poster. I know it would help if I was more regular, (which I'm not). It's an area I'm working on and I really hope to come up with at least one regular weekly feature that can be a backbone of my blog. Thanks for the reminder that these things are important!
Nicole Zoltack says
I find that commenting on other people's blogs, and by commenting I mean real comments not just one liners, I tend to see my number of followers go up. It's amazing how much my blog has grown since I started to blog religiously M-F and commenting on other blogs.
This post is worth gold. Terrific advice – very, very helpful.
Re. #7, I think that is one of the secrets of your enormous popularity, Nathan. You are extremely generous – generous with time, with information and with your followers – and this post is very much an example of that.
Publicity is the uberheading.
Hardcopy verses Digital.
The mixture is still the same as learned in business schools.
Novelty – Depth – Familiarity.
All those elements are present in any successful publicity campaign. A blog is a publicity campaign. The early days are the prototype. If a blog catches fire and draws consistent readers all three elements have to be in play. Depth is the hardest and draws readers back. Can the readers drill down and find value. Here, N,s blog it is synoptic reminders of the key functions of writing with forums to reinforce the absorption-immersion experience. Whatever a person is blogging about even if it is a sub genre of fiction there should be text based summaries and links to key resources to appeal to the authors audience. Accumulating key text summaries is the hardest part. Familiarity means consistency in various functions. Novelty is tough and dangerous unless you have space monkeys that appear on command in the sky when you appear in a distant metropolis and suddenly whip out your secret magic wand and summon your patronus. Balloon boy is a good example of novelty as a publicity stunt gone bad. Lack of any novelty whatsoever is like being a bird on the outside of a flock reacting to the pressure to turn generated by the tighter confines at the center of group.
In the final analysis publicity is like designing recipes a lot of it has to do with adapting to what is available at the moment.
The latest amazingly successful publicity campaign I am studying is to get everyone to be submissive enough to accept full cavity searches before flying on any public aircraft as a noble sacrifice to our gallant war effort to protect Grandma's house from the big bad wolf.
So far the campaign is right on track.
… just kidding! I hope.
Anybody need a few million frequent flyer miles.
Mo Mas, No Mas, No Mas!!!
Here here, Mira. I agree Nathan's generousity is what makes this blog such a fun place to visit – and his people skills and intelligence.
Those seven tips are spot on, I think, but I'm doing none of them. *looks shame-faced*
I think I'd rather visit other blogs and comment.
J T Shea:
The rest of the time I'm practically genocidal, tinkering with some old radio equipment and a dustbin lid trying to send out a message to some Hate-Filled, militaristic, alien race to choose the Earth as their next conquest.
If I was merely misanthropic all the time I'd probably end up adding to the clamouring masses talking to themselves on the internet in the vain hope someone will listen in.
This is all jealousy, of course – I'd love to be able to blog
The Good Wifehold says
Suggestion for Pheonix… as a writer why not write a story with chatacters… I guess the equivalent of a soap opera???
Wouldn't that be a good showcase for a fiction writer?
(And yes… shameless touting)
The Good Wifehold says
Mrs. DeRaps says
I agree with what you're saying here. But, I do think that readers of your blog should be able to get a sense of the reader behind the books. On the blogs I follow closely, I feel like I know the reader who's writing the reviews. I identify with them somehow or care about them. And that's why I go back and trust their recommendations.
Thanks for the advice!
Laurie Boris says
These are great tips, Nathan, thank you! I'm starting to build a presence and this reminds me to be slow and steady. I really like Terry Odell's comment about not touting your own wares on someone else's comment threat. That's just rude. As someone I once worked with in advertising said, "buy your own media space."
J.W. Thompson says
Moses Siregar III says
That is all.
Another tip is to "pay it forward:" blog about the blogs you follow. I did this recently, and:
1. It gave me an instant post topic, because
2. I'm happy to promote things/sites/people that I like,
3. The other bloggers are appreciative, and will stop by to read your post. (It helps to send them a quick email letting them know of your patronage.)
Good Luck and happy blogging!
I attracted a huge following by being a kook. Sure, people got an impression, but who cares. I can morph and code switch at the drop of a hat.
My comments are my brand of cutting edge performance art, and I was noticed by many who were on a kook watch.
Many readers wrote, "I get you." And they were the ones who loved my blogs. The others thought me "batsh*t" and blocked me… but I'm still here.
It's my joke and my fun and I get the last laugh.
I can't do anything on a routine, so number one is out, but other than that, great advice for me. I follow most of it already, but a nice refresher and a new tip or two.
You apparently practice what you preach as evidenced by the number of comments on your blog- people read what you write. Success achieved.
Jambalaya Justice coming 2011
Thanks for the awesome advice. You are usually "right on," and that's why I love reading your blog. However, what are the odds that your comment is even noticed, as there are so many comments.
I've recommended many writers' follow your blog because of your great advice.
Twitter, blogging and facebook can take a lot of time from writing, but platforming is a must. Go get 'em fellow writers. Happy New Year!!
My blogs tend to be short and funny – not usually informative at all.
I have 12 followers.
Yours is massively informative, with the humor dial turned well down. You have over 5,000 followers.
I wonder if there's a lesson to be learned there!
I only THOUGHTI knew what blogging is.
@ euclid: O RLY? ^_^
I tend to disagree about the "humor dial being turned down."
Not too many bloggers I've seen can so deftly make an informative point about query letters…in a MadLib.
NB: Mr. Bransford's initials are the same as the Latin expression for "note well." 🙂
Word verif: "Agizes." Seems like TwitterSpeak for "agonizes" or even "antagonizes." I think the captcha has caught a bit of Misanthrope's Complaint. 😉
This is really good advice, Nathan. As someone new to the blogosphere and a little social media shy (didn't grow up with it, you know so it's like visiting a foreign country), I'll take all the helpful advice I can find.
Tommy Mann says
This is all very good advice. I stopped using some of my social media because I just couldn't do it consistently. There are some pages on FB and Twitter that will post hung ho for 3 days then stop for 2 months, then repeat. I decided to focus on just FB and Twitter plus my blog, and do those consistently.
Tommy Mann Ministries