Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Ten quick tips for growing your blog's subscribers and comments

A couple of weeks ago, I asked the poll question "If a company or small business is blogging, what's the most important metric they should measure?" And according to you guys, Subscribers (36.2%) and comments (32.8%) were easily the two most important. Thanks to everyone that voted!

So since subscribers and comments seem to be the most important metrics to measure for bloggers, I'd like to share some ways that I have increased my blog's subscribers and the number of comments I get per post. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully many of you can benefit from at least some of these tips:

Subscribers

  • Set up a Feedburner account. This should be one of the very first things you do when you set-up your blog.
  • Once you do, burn a feed for your blog, and then set up your account so all your different feed versions will redirect to your Feedburner feed. This is important because it then gives you a much better idea of how many subscribers you have, and how they are accessing your feed. Feedburner's blog explains how to make the switch(for Blogger blogs). I saw my number of reported feed readers double overnight by doing this.
  • Once you've started a FB account and have redirected your feeds to the FB version, start paying attention to how your feed readers are accessing your feed. Pick the most popular feed readers, and add subscriber buttons for them on your blog. At first I only had a subscriber button for Bloglines on my blog. Then FB started tracking Google Reader, and I discovered it was the most popular way that subscribers use to access my blog's feed, so I added a button for it. Then I discovered that Netvibes and Newsgator were growing as well, and added buttons for them.
  • Make your subscriber buttons easy to find on your blog. Last year I moved my buttons up to the top of the my blog and immediately noticed a jump in my subscriber numbers.
  • Give your readers the ability to subscribe to your blog's posts via email. Feedburner can set this up for you as well. Always give your readers as many choices as possible for how they can receive your content.




Comments

  • Ask for reader feedback. One thing I figured out VERY early on in my blogging journey is that my readers are, as a group, always smarter than I am. Since I always learn from you guys, I want your feedback.
  • Take a definite stance. This is actually something I need to work on. But when you take a definite stance on an issue, it makes it easier for those that agree with you to chime in, and it makes it easier for those that disagree, to express why they do. And when you have contrasting opinions, that usually leads to a more robust conversation.
  • Put a 'window' on your comments, in your blog post. Let's say that I write a post and it gets a couple of comments. Then Gavin leaves an incredible comment that sparks the exchange to take off and grow into a conversation. Why not go back and edit your post and add Gavin's comment at the end of your post? And add a link to Gavin's blog when you do. This is a great way to show your other readers Gavin's comment, and it will likely prompt them to check out the comments section to see what the smart kids are saying!
  • Leave comments on and link to other blogs. I've said it a million times, but the best way to grow your blog, is to leave it. Make a point to comment on the blogs of your readers that comment on your blog, or at least link to their blog posts. This is why I love Twitter, cause it's a great way for me to quickly and easily share links with my followers, and I try to share links from bloggers that comment on my blog, first.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for feedback from your social networks. This comes with a big caveat that you have to be careful about how often you do this, and you need to also link to other blogger's posts. If the only time I see you is twice a week on Twitter asking me to please come leave a comment on your new blog posts, I probably won't do it. But if I see you everyday on Twitter chatting and linking to other blog posts, THEN when you ask me to please read your new post, I probably will.

What did I miss? How are you growing your blog's subscribers and comments?

UPDATE: Gavin adds in the comments - "Finally got around to adding the specific reader buttons to my blog. Wouldn't you know it, a 10% increase in subscribers overnight."

10 comments:

I Can't Keep Up said...

Thanks for such a great post Mack! This is a great check list for both new and experienced bloggers. You keep us on our toes.

The idea of a "window" was new to me, so I will have to try it.

Gavin Heaton said...

Thanks for the shout, Mack. If only I could think of something to clever to say about this post ;)

I have been particularly slack about serving my subscribers. For too long I put off understanding how the subscription process worked ... which is crazy. As you say, do it up-front as it saves having to go through what I have been doing -- changing my Technorati profile and consolidating my feeds. Now, at least, you have made it easy to figure out -- wish you had written this two years ago!

Philippe said...

Thanks a lot. I never created my FB account. You convinced me to do it right now :)

Mack Collier said...

Feedburner is really a valuable tool that holds a lot of potential for helping you measure your blog as well as promote it.

And BTW Gavin, I did write about this, but last year:

http://moblogsmoproblems.blogspot.com/2007/08/10-ways-you-can-use-feedburner-to.html

Gavin Heaton said...

Hey Mack, last time it prompted me to change the layout and bring my RSS button up to the top of the page. That was as far as I got.

This post was a reminder that there is more to do ;)

Nelly said...

I'm a new blogger and I found your tips really helpful - thanks! I'm not sure if it makes a big difference but I would like to add registering your blog with Google and Yahoo. I think it's easier for them to find you and it doesn't take as long (if I'm not mistaken?).

Gavin Heaton said...

Finally got around to adding the specific reader buttons to my blog. Wouldn't you know it, a 10% increase in subscribers overnight.

Jyl @ MommyGossip said...

Thanks for this post. I am blogging for fun in the mommy blogging world, but what drives me, other than the creative outlet, is figuring out the strategy behind it all--fascinates me, really. Your posts are well written and informative. Would you be at all opposed to a shout out in the mommy blogging world? I'd love to include one of you on my blog tomorrow.

b4u said...

hi mack
will you please explain about window and how to do it.

Mack Collier said...

b4u, notice that I added one of Gavin's comments to the end of the post:

"UPDATE: Gavin adds in the comments - "Finally got around to adding the specific reader buttons to my blog. Wouldn't you know it, a 10% increase in subscribers overnight.""

I did that because it's a great comment that alerts the readers to there being a great discussion in the comments. When I say add a 'window' to the comments, I mean simply pull out the great comment and add it to the end of the post.

Does that make sense?