Building a loyal RSS readership is the most difficult part of blogging. Driving traffic, hitting the Digg front page and building links can all be fluked by being in the right place at the right time; but impressing somebody enough for them to want to read your blog every day is far harder.
Most of the worlds 50 or 100 million blogs will go through life with just a handful of readers before the writer decides to call it a day. Have you ever wondered how some blogs seem to attract new readers like a moth to a flame? Do you look at sites with thousands of readers and wonder how they do it?
Blog posts and tutorials designed to help you increase your readership focus on basic elements such as positioning your feed link above the fold etc. I’ve included these points in a basic checklist at the end but will be focusing on the more advanced methods of readership building in this article.
Citations from other bloggers
The first thing I did when starting BlogStorm was to sit down in front of my Netvibes RSS reader and look through all 200 feeds to try and figure out how I found them and why I subscribed to them. The results were very revealing and I found that most of the feeds added in the past 12 months were added after a personal recommendation from another trusted blogger. Only about 3 of the feeds were discovered after spotting the site on Digg or a similar social network.
Making use of this statistic is simple – you need to make sure lots of trusted bloggers with large readerships recommend your new blog. Of course this is easier said than done.
My method was to make sure the blog had something different to offer my readers and to use this as a marketing strategy. The internet marketing blogosphere is so saturated that for a new blog to start from nowhere offering unique advice was refreshing and a lot of people were happy to link to it.
I also spent a lot of time emailing all of my Gmail address book contacts to individually introduce the blog to them and make sure they knew all about it. Don’t beg for links, just make sure they know about your blog and who you are.
Gaining citations is a hard process and involves interacting with bloggers one at a time over periods of weeks, months or years. Sometimes you won’t ever get a link from them but if you know a blogger and have communicated by email they are much more likely to recommend you to their readers at some time in the future.
The first five articles on a new blog are without doubt the most important. You need to establish a theme for your blog so that people know what type of posts to expect and prove to people that not only are you a great writer but that they really should subscribe to your blog.
Get these first few articles right and you can gain a few hundred readers in the first week.
Linkbaiting is a great strategy but it needs to be done in the right way. There is little point in hitting the Digg front page with a “Top 10” article as thats not going to earn you any citations from popular blogs, unless you are just wanting to drive traffic. The key aspect of linkbaiting is to craft your linkbait in a way that is likely to gain you links from authority blogs and news websites. Hitting the Digg front page will send you a nice traffic boost and probably give you link from hundreds of sites that scrape the Digg feed, but unless your content is linkable you won’t see a boost in readership from it.
For me the main benefit of linkbaiting is to gain citations from other bloggers but its also a good strategy for driving what I call brute force traffic.
At the start of my promotion I wanted to raise awareness of my blog so I set about trying to drive as much traffic as I could in the hope some of it would stick. I call this brute force traffic and it’s a fun but not very effective strategy.
300,000 visitors later the fact that most of it doesn’t stick is only too apparent. Visitors from Digg and other social networks don’t subscribe to your feeds for the simple reason they visit maybe 50 new sites every day and can’t possibly subscribe to them all.
The main benefit of traffic bait is to drive natural citations and build brand awareness. If somebody doesn’t subscribe the first time they come across your site maybe they will the next time.
Regular readers don’t normally like to read loads of linkbait posts all the time. It’s very important you publish a mixture of very high quality posts and linkbait posts to keep your regular readers happy.
Give people a reason to read
People subscribe to blogs for a whole variety of reasons. Before you can attract a new reader you need to be able to understand why they might want to read what you have to say. If you write about the latest gadgets you need to break the news before Gizmodo and offer better reviews than Engadget if you want to be noticed. Internet marketing bloggers need to produce tips and articles that will help their readers make more money online.
Persuade your visitors their lives would be better if they subscribed to your blog.
Checklist: 7 easy ways to increase your readership
- Use a large RSS button in a prominent area on your page
- Offer email subscriptions
- Email people who forget to confirm their subscriptions
- Hold contests only for RSS readers
- Add a note to the bottom of every post pointing out your RSS feed
- Show off your stats with FeedBurner
- Include a link to explain what RSS is for your non internet savvy readers
This was a guest post by Patrick Altoft. Patrick started the BlogStorm internet marketing blog in June 2023 and gained over 1000 readers in 3 months. Subscribe to the RSS feed for more information on blog marketing & linkbait.