19 Ways to Get More Readers for Your Author Blog

by | Aug 31, 2011

Author blogs are an intrinsic part of your author platform. You can get more readers for your blog. You may have read many of these ideas before, but let me ask you: How many have you done in the last 30 days?

Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. You are building a media asset, and that takes time. Many of these techniques take a little effort and can be done in a few minutes a day. There is never going to be a day when you do them all at once, so look at it more like a menu.

  1. Write more often—if you don’t have enough traffic, write more often. This is not necessarily good news, since you may feel you already have enough to do. But when you’re growing a blog, there’s no better way to increase the energy flow to your blog than increasing the amount of energy you put into your blog.
  2. Write better articles—look at the last 10 articles you’ve posted to your blog. How many did people really care about? How many did you write for yourself, more than your readers? If you have to, and in contradiction to #1 above, write less frequently but better.
  3. Do something different—give readers a reason to come to your blog. If you’re doing what everyone else in your niche is doing, why should they? What is it that no one has done? What angle is uncovered? What insight is lacking in the conversation?
  4. Do something big—create a big list, a smashing resource directory, an exhaustive collection of tools, a survey of every viewpoint on a subject. Whatever it is, make it useful, the kind of thing you yourself would link to or bookmark for future reference.
  5. Kidnap a celebrity—interview the biggest star in your niche, or the most controversial, or the person with the biggest blog in your field. Aim as high as you can, you will be surprised. Make a regular feature of profiling or interviewing movers and shakers in your industry.
  6. Start an argument—disagree loudly with an established authority in your field, an “A-list” blogger, or the institutional overseers of your domain. Demand a response.
  7. Rant—find an injustice in your field, something blatantly unfair or a monopolistic company taking advantage of the little guy. Rant about it, invite others to contribute.
  8. Guest post—take your show on the road. Create a goal to contribute to someone else’s blog on a related topic once a week, once a month, whatever you can do. Query bloggers and read their archives. Fashion a headline for an article they’ll find irresistible.
  9. Comment—leave comments that add to the discussion, that amplify what others have said, that disagree respectfully with the author, that bring something to the table. Pick 5 or 10 blogs and stay in touch with them, commenting when appropriate.
  10. Upload articles—put some articles on articles sites like ezinearticles.com and make sure you link back to your blog. Use the same keywords you use in your blog posts.
  11. Explore your analytics—dive into your blog’s analytics to find the keywords people are using to arrive at your blog, then. . .
  12. Research keywords—use keyword tools to find as many keywords related to your blog as you can. Compare different forms of common terms in your field, since they can have radically different search volumes. Use this information when you write your blog posts.
  13. Curate content—serve up links to content elsewhere that you’ve checked out. Use your expertise and the time you spend surfing to collect links that others will find useful. Use social media to spread these links and do link posts on your blog to save others the time of finding great content.
  14. Run contests—have a regular contest, giveaway, prize, sweepstakes, awards or some way to create an event. Use your blog to promote it and ask participants to link back.
  15. Frequent forums—make a habit of commenting on forum threads that concern your topic. Like commenting, aim to improve, amplify or otherwise contribute to the ongoing conversation. Don’t forget to put a link to your blog in your signature that shows up when you post a comment.
  16. Give something away—put together an e-book, a PDF, a template, a checklist, a special report, a worksheet or anything else that others can get real value from. Give it away every day, not just once. Make sure people know they can share it with everyone, and remember to put a live link back to your blog in the giveaway.
  17. Write list posts—write the top 7 things, the best 9 widgets, the 5 things people haven’t considered, the 9 top places to get stuff, the 5 best tools for the job, and the 3 reasons list posts beat all others.
  18. Take a course—there are several excellent blogging courses that will teach you a huge amount about blogging and gaining traffic. Blog Mastermind is the one I used to grow this blog, and you can find others. Invest in yourself, it pays. (affiliate link)
  19. Ask readers—run a survey, ask for comments, ask your readers what they need, what articles they would like to read, where they are stuck, what they need help with.

Blogging is more fun, and more effective, when you have more readers. Every blogger wants more readers, but you have to spend time on more than just your writing to get that blog traffic.

Pick a couple of these ideas and put in 15 minutes today. It takes many little streams to build to a river.

Got something to add to the list?

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

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30 Comments

  1. Scoop Talked

    I’ve always used Google Alerts but not quite like this. I just refined all my alerts to try this out with a new site that is the way i get more readers. Thanks you for sharing this information, please make a blog on Check your favorite celebrity news & gossip.

    Reply
  2. carol brill

    thanks Austin. I appreciate your thoughts.
    blogging in character sounds like an interesting technique with a series or repeating character. I don’t have either so probably not for me.
    One of my novels is titled Cape Maybe and I live in Cape May so location may be an option.

    Reply
  3. carol brill

    Can you share your ideas on finding your blog’s focus when you write fiction? For non-fiction it seems easier…you’re an expert in something and you blog about it. thanks carol
    ps. I write contemporary women’s fiction

    Reply
    • Austin Briggs

      Hi Carol,

      If I may, I‘ll suggest either to blog in character (several successful authors are doing that), find an interactive way to pull readers in (I used to do this before, and will do again when my series catches on), or blog on subjects related to your book, e.g. the locations, cultural insights, even book reviews in the same genre.

      Reply
  4. Austin Briggs

    # 14 has been a real boost for my traffic – I run a flash fiction contest at my site with $115 in monthly prizes. I started it because I wanted to enjoy other people’s short stories, but it became the number one reason for repeat traffic, retweets, and backlinks.

    Not sure how it translates into sales… maybe a couple of direct sale of my novel per month. But who am I to complain, I just started 6 weeks ago.

    Another reason I found it that folks comment most on bite-sized articles. I’ll redesign my whole history section based on this learning.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      That’s really interesting Austin. Do you fund the prizes yourself, or did you find a sponsor? I’m just about to start a monthly e-Book Cover Design Award, and part of the reason I’m interested in doing it is for the educational impact. But hey, everybody likes to win, so I’m hoping to get some good participation. Good luck with your flash fiction contest.

      Reply
      • Austin Briggs

        Hi Joel, for now I’m funding the prizes myself. But I’ve already designed a nice “donate” button that I’ll put up shortly.

        Being new, I’m still in the benign stage. I patiently edit poorly written submissions, for example. Not sure how long my benevolent mood will last… But I must say, absolute majority of the stories folks sent in are superb.

        Your Cover Design contest sounds exciting, I’ll definitely jump in!

        Reply
  5. Lou Belcher

    I have several blogs. I just started a new one and was suddenly reminded how lonely it is at the beginning. It takes lots of work to get the readership going. Unfortunately… or fortunately, my cat’s blog is the best of them all. He gets 20 comments without even trying. Thanks for the reminder of things to try.

    Lou

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Lou, your cat sounds like a natural. Glad you stopped by.

      Reply
  6. Robert Chazz Chute

    I disagree! Loudly!

    Okay, I might have to work out some of the bugs yet.

    (Seriously, though, good post.) :)

    Reply
  7. Marcia Richards

    Joel, this is great! I do several of these now but some are good reminders for me! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Glad you enjoyed it Marcia. I keep lists like this bookmarked for those days when it just seems I’ve run out of ideas. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  8. Lee Romano Sequeira

    I agree with William’s comment above – be your genuine self, and speak in your own voice. Remember to be YOU, as everyone else is already taken.
    :)

    Reply
  9. Nadine Feldman

    I found your site recently and am amazed at the quality of information you provide. I am still in my infancy as a blogger, and these are useful tools to keep handy. I’ll refer to them again and again! Thank you!

    Reply
  10. Darby

    Kidnapping a celebrity to drive traffic might be a good idea for a book. ;) ‘E-Misery’

    Reply
  11. Gordon Burgett

    Sounds exhausting, Joel, but lots of good suggestions.

    Not sure if I “kidnap a celebrity” what I would do with them. If it’s a guy, maybe he can listen to the knock in my car. But I suspect my wife would insist I throw a lady celebrity back–unless she sews or irons, or both.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Yes, no real life kidnapping, please. This is a technique I learned where you cite a celebrity (could be one in your niche) by publicly disagreeing or maybe even partnering on something they are passionate about. Like all these suggestions, it’s what you make of it, but I’ve found people to be mostly quite gracious.

      Reply
  12. Marie Loughin

    Sigh. I know that what you’re saying is true. I know list posts draw readers. It works on me. (I’m here, aren’t I?) But creating such a list feels, I don’t know, contrived. I suspect contests work, but I am personally annoyed by the barrage of contest announcements. Ditto for giveaways. I do bite on posts that rant or provide alternate view points. But I practice conflict avoidance (except perhaps right now) and have no desire to start a flame war, myself. In fact, there are few things on this list that I feel willing to do, unless I can do them with real sincerity. So I guess I’m with William Mize on this one.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Marie, I totally get it. But I’ve found I can use a lot of these ideas in ways that match the tone and aesthetic of my blog, just adapt them. So while I don’t run rah-rah-free-book sweepstakes, I do curate content and pick “featured” writers and give out badges. People seem to like that, and next month I’m going to start an “e-Book Cover of the Month” award, mostly because I think it will be fun. So I think it’s just what you make of it. There’s nothing inherently insincere or inauthentic about a blog post just because it’s got numbered paragraphs. But hey, everyone needs a break sometimes. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
      • Marie Loughin

        Hmm, not sure what badges are. I do like the e-book cover contest because I’d like to see what other people are doing for covers. I’d also like someone to critique them — what makes a cover win the award? i.e. what makes a cover “good”?

        I didn’t mean to imply you aren’t sincere because you numbered your points. You make *good* points. I just feel that, in some posts around the internet, the numbered items aren’t terribly profound and the gimmick is forced. I don’t feel that desperate. Having said that, I have finally written a blog that lends itself to the “list.” I’ll be posting it tomorrow (eek – today! better go to bed!) to finish out a series.

        Reply
        • Marcia Richards

          Hi Marie, Lists are popular because it means a reader doesn’t have to spend a lot of time to get the info they want. They can scan the list to see if it holds any interest for them. People are dividing their time between so many things, lists make life a little easier. The topic of the list should fit the blog theme, so it won’t necessarily be profound. Good bloggers write for their readers rather for themselves. It isn’t about getting attention and racking up big numbers. Personally, I put my personality in my blog and I get subscribers based on people liking me, liking my ‘voice’, and my content, which always evokes an emotion the reader can connect with. Happy blogging!

          Reply
        • James

          Marie,

          You’re right. Most writers think the “lists” are them being succinct, but often, they’re vapid and repetitive. I’ve lost count of the “10 Ways to Write More” posts I’ve seen around, for example. They all boil down to “write more”.

          I’ve found some value in Joel’s “list” posts (like this one), but I always approach such lists with a jaundiced eye. Amongst blog writers, I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in the blog world and forget that most folks are just looking for easy answers, and lists sound “easy”. Only a few actually do something with them.

          Reply
  13. Christopher Wills

    Hi Joel. Interesting question this. I am becoming increasingly cynical about the question of how to attract more readers to my blog because I have seen blogs with posts like “3 ways to improve your writing… 1. read 2. read more 3. read lots more.” Then people comment “Wow; I’m going to go and do this now….” Then the next day the same blog will have a post “3 ways to beat writers’ block… 1. Force yourself to write. 2. Pretend you’re writing a school essay. 3. Promise yourself a treat if you can write 100 words.” And the same commenters comment “Wow; I’m going to try this right away.” And some of these blogs get thousands of followers. A certain young lady who is incredibly successful posts on subjects like her cat eating her socks and hundreds of followers comment; “Wow, this is just like my cat….” (presumably believing that if their cats are the same then maybe their book sales will synchronise too).

    I always used to believe that quality will out in the end but now I’m not so sure. By the way have you read my latest post on how my dog can hop round the house on one foot whilst playing Miles Davis music on the trumpet? :)

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Well, that’s similar to the “just build it and they will come” mentality. Marketing is communication, and SEO is just being smart about the effort you’re already putting out. If I can spend 60 minutes on a blog post, or spend 75 minutes and almost guarantee ten times as many people will read it, why wouldn’t I?

      I’ve just stopped reading blogs like the ones you mentioned, I don’t really care how much traffic they have, since whatever it is they are doing, it’s not what I’m doing.

      Reply
  14. William Mize

    I would take an alternate tack – forget “driving traffic”. Forget “google analytics”, focus on truly connecting with your audience.
    Focus on being yourself.
    Focus on being genuine.
    Focus on GIVING, not on getting.
    Focus on helping, not hurting or snarking.
    You and perhaps the words you write, will be remembered for who you are, how you helped others, not by jury rigging empty strategies for ‘web traffic’.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      William, certainly many bloggers take the same approach, and why not? Blogs, like books, can serve many purposes.

      On the other hand, if your aims are more commercial, then there’s nothing “empty” about learning basic skills that can have a profound impact on how many people actually read what you’ve written. Content marketing is all about giving away great content, being genuinely helpful, and making money at the same time. Just a different approach. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

      Reply
  15. Paul Salvette

    Thanks for the tips, Joel. I’m trying to boost traffic to my website in the hopes of boosting sales of my novella. Recently, I put up a massive multi-part tutorial series on eBook formatting, and I’ve been getting a bunch of hits. However, I need to find a way to translate hits into sales (not an easy endeavor).

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Paul, that’s a fantastic resource, and it can pay off for you in many ways. Like many content creators, you are going to need to find the form in which your material will be most valuable to the readers you want to reach. You might want to go over to Copyblogger.com and look at their articles on conversion, they are really good at it.

      Reply

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