1) Blog frequently
Most new bloggers dislike hearing this. Trust me when I say that the struggle for content is ongoing. New bloggers, however, feel like it’s just happening to them. The truth is, don’t get a blog just to have a blog. Get it and keep it updated. It’s the quickest way to gaining traffic. How often should you blog? Three times a week. The best days to blog? Studies have shown that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are key days for blogging.
2) Stay on point
I tell authors this a lot: stay on point, stay on topic. Why? Because if you don’t you’ll lose readership. Once someone commits to your blog they want to keep reading relevant information. So don’t blog one day about your book, your speaking, or your mission and the next day share Aunt Ethel’s pot roast recipe.
3) Plan your blogs
While spontaneity is the catalyst for creativity, planning is a good way to stay on track. Start to map out key dates that you want to blog about that have some relation to your topic – this way when you’re at a loss for topics, you can always pick one from your list of planned out blogs. Also, consider these topics to blog about:
a) Future predictions: everyone loves these, to the degree that you can predict market trends in your industry do it, and the readership will follow.
b) Discuss industry news: what’s happening in your industry that you can talk about? Even if you’re a fiction writer there’s always *something* going on worth mentioning in publishing, writing, or marketing that directly relates to your topic.
c) The elephant in the room: talk about the stuff that everyone is afraid of. What new trends are emerging that consumers/readers/companies need to be aware of? What’s next for your market and how will it affect the industry? How can we keep publishing books when we already publish 800 a day? You see what I mean? Think of things that frighten you and talk about them. People will respond. Every time I do this I get a ton of comments on my blog.
d) Write reviews: review other people’s books, product or work. This is a great way to network and to become a “filter” for your market. Filter out the new stuff and feature it on your blog (this goes for you fiction writers too!).
e) Other blogs: what are people talking about? What did your favorite blog just say? Virtual networking (with other bloggers) is a great way to grow your content and get to know others in cyberspace. Don’t forget to link to the blog you’re discussing!
4) Invite comments on your blog!
This is really important! The more folks you can get commenting, the quicker your blog will get passed around. If you have a “no comment” feature on your blog, remove it! You want people to be able to comment and give feedback. In fact, at the end of every blog, why not invite readers to comment? If you start getting a lot of responses to this, begin featuring your favorite comments in future blog posts!
5) Comment on hot topics in the news
The quickest way to get traffic is to get your blog featured on a high-traffic site. But how can you do this? By commenting on news stories. Most major news sites have a feature that will list blogs that are talking about the various news stories. Not all blogs get featured but: a) if your if your topic is related to the story they’ve featured; and b) you’ve written an insightful post on the topic, you’ll likely get listed. For an example of what these look like take a peek at a recent story on CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/09/14/simpson/index.html
6) Digg yourself
Make sure that your blog has a bookmarking feature. Sites like Digg and http://Del.icio.us are great places to get started. You can go there, sign up for an account (very easy to do) and then follow their instructions for bookmarking your individual posts. This is important! You don’t want to bookmark the blog but rather, the posts. The posts will then show up in these sites and, hopefully, other folks will bookmark them as well. Even if no one else bookmarks your posts, it doesn’t matter. You can still get traffic by being positioned on these sites. Super simple to do, go ahead, give it a shot!
7) Twitter your blog
Got something to say? Try microblogging at Twitter: http://www.twitter.com. It’s a free service that asks the question: What are you doing now? Go in, sign up and start posting your messages with links back to your blog. We tried this and it’s fantastic. You can also blog from your cell phone and blackberry. You can not only use it to promote your blog but your book, speaking event, whatever you want. It might sound like a “who cares” idea, but trust me, everyone’s Twittering these days.
8) Syndicate yourself
Using simple RSS feeds through http://www.feedblitz.com you can syndicate yourself and let folks subscribe to your blog. If they don’t have a way to subscribe to your blog, they may forget you altogether. Once someone subscribes, every time you post new content it will notify them. And the best part? Your messages won’t get stuck in someone’s spam filter. They’ll get the notification, head to your blog and voila! Your readership stays engaged and growing.
Finally, don’t use an “official” voice on your blog. Pretend you’re sitting across from your reader over coffee. Talk to them in a more casual, conversational tone and you’ll not only get more readers, you’ll likely get more comments too! It doesn’t take much to grow a blog, just a little dedication and creativity. Happy blogging!