6 Ways to Get People to Read Your Blog
It’s frustrating. You’re producing great content on your blog, and your grandmother is the only one reading it. Grandma’s thoughtful comments notwithstanding, you start to have your doubts. Is it worth all the effort? Who the hell do I have to seduce at Google to get some page views?
Before you go ahead and sacrifice an intern to the Google gods, consider a few tactics that should help boost your traffic.
1) Know Who You Are
One of my favorite quotes on publishing in the digital age comes from Chris Ahearn, the former president of Reuters: “You’re big, you’re small, or you’re dead.” Ahearn’s point: If you want to survive, you need to be a big institution like The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, or a niche publisher that covers a specific topic in a specific way, like the Gawker Media blogs or Refinery29.
Make sure that you establish a clear identity that’s going to compel readers to return again and again. As a bonus, they’ll be likely to share your content with friends and followers who have similar interests.
2) Craft Awesome Headlines
For every eight people who read a headline, only two will usually read the whole post, according to this amazing infographic. So grab your readers’ attention with a great headline. Numbers in headlines, such as, “5 ways to….” often work very well. For better or worse, so do formulas, such as, “What Everybody Ought to Know About…,” or “Little Known Ways to…”
3) Make It Funny
Funny content can pose a big challenge for large brands — the corporate wringer can turn even the funniest quip into a dud due to “brand safety” concerns. But if you want one of your posts to truly go viral — to the tune of tens or hundreds of thousands of shares — taking risks with humor is your best bet. There’s no perfect recipe for creating something funny enough to go viral, but the Internet loves inspiring, wacky, easy-to-digest content. If any site has it down to a science, it’s probably BuzzFeed, the site that brought the world 25 Celebrities That Look Like Mattresses.
Sure, there are other ways to go viral: You could get a cat to dance, inspire President Obama to sing, or land a rover on the moon. Unfortunately, those tactics probably aren’t too relevant to your blog or your brand. One easy, cheap solution is to take the funniest writer on your team and have him go crazy on Meme Creator, coming up with industry-related memes. When these memes hit their target, they tend to get shared and blogged about a lot. Just look at the success of this creative team’s ad-industry memes or the Paul Ryan Gosling Tumblr, which may be liberals’ greatest weapon against the GOP VP nominee so far.
4) Invest in Distribution
There’s no shame in spending money to acquire readers. If you’re going to invest time, money, and effort in developing good content, you should make sure that people actually read it. Here are some key content distribution options:
- Outbrain will place your content in the “Read More” sections of sites your desired audience is already reading.
- Promoted Tweets allow you to get both a reader and a follower in one fell Tweet (just make sure to Tweet out an article). Facebook ads can have a similar benefit.
- Paid Discovery Stumbles can be effective, although they can get quite expensive, so watch out.
Catchy headlines (as discussed above) are crucial here, since that’s what you’re paying for people to see. Great pictures help, too.
5) Guest Post on Other Sites
Editorial sites are desperate for content. Free is a good value proposition for them. You can get a lot of readers by showing off your blog’s awesomeness with a guest post on the right site. Just be sure to include a prominent blurb about the blog with a link to go check it out.
6) Go Social
Take the time to distribute your content on social media. Tweet your best links. Pin and tumble your best pictures and videos. Stumble your most visually stunning content. Ask questions on Facebook. Get your best stuff on Reddit and stay calm as some 13-year-old kid tries to rip you apart. At least he’s reading!
Finally, remember: Don’t just share your own content. If you read something that you think your audience will like, share it with them. They will appreciate it.