Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Eight Easy Ways to Grow Your Blog

My latest article is up at Marketing Profs, entitled 'Eight Easy Ways to Grow Your Blog'. It's a freebie article (yah!), and is aimed specifically at small businesses/companies that are struggling to get their blogs off the ground. Many such businesses are bootstrapping it already, and they don't have the time or money to hire SEO consultants or web designers to come in and tinker with their blog. They need no-nonsense tips they can easily put into action themselves to make their blogging efforts more successful. That's what this article provides.

Here's a quick overview of the Eight Easy Ways to Grow Your Blog:

1 - Post regularly. Probably the easiest way to grow your blog's readership, but it can be the hardest to follow, especially for a small business/company. Make sure you put your writers on a regular schedule going in. I also talk about which days are best to post, and how to space out your posts.

2 - Develop a comment policy. Decide how you will handle comments, if you will post them automatically, or moderate them. And if you moderate them, you need to develop a plan for approving them as quickly as possible, and during non-business hours.

3 - Reply to comments. Listen to the feedback you are receiving from your readers. Readers want to know that you are paying attention to their comments, and by replying and acknowledging them, you are showing your readers that you appreciate their efforts. And more comments leads to more comments.

4 - Showcase readers who make special contributions. Do everything you can to make sure that readers that frequently comment, or link to your blog, know that you appreciate them. It's just common courtesy, and when you have a reader that's going out of their way to be a faithful community member, you cannot do enough to encourage and reward that behavior.

5 - Build your blogroll with your readers' interests in mind. Remember your blog isn't for you, it's for your community. Treat it as shared space, and tailor your blogroll to the interests of your readers, as well as your own.

6 - Offer unique content aimed at your blog's target audience. The majority of my target audience is fellow bloggers with an interest in marketing and social media topics, and companies that are looking to enter this space. So I first created the Top 25 Marketing Blogs list, which serves as a reference for both bloggers and companies, then I created the Company Blog Checkup series, which serves as a reference for companies on how to improve their own blogging efforts.

7 - Make your blog's feed available for RSS subscribers. Both steps 7 and 8 explore the importance of giving your readers the ability to consume your content in the form(s) that are convenient to them. Feed readers such as Google Reader and Bloglines are becoming increasingly popular, so you should set up a FeedBurner account ASAP and get your feed out there. Then once you have done that, you can add popular chicklets that will make it easier for readers to subscribe to your feed.

8 - Offer email subscriptions to your blog's content. FeedBurner offers this service as well. You have to remember that not everyone has the time to check your blog more than maybe 2-3 times a week. Offering email subscriptions gives these infrequent readers the ability to stay up to date on your postings. I added this option here at the end of April and my number of daily email readers is already equal to 10% of my actual traffic to the blog.

You can view the entire article which includes 'action points' for each step by clicking here. Hope you enjoy it!

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Anonymous said...

Mack - read your article at MarketingProfs.com. Pleased that it was available since they usually lock up gems like this behind their subscribers only wall. I've been blogging for a while now and advise others on it so it's nice to find a resource that not only I can learn from but that I can point others to as well.

A few comments on your steps...

:: Step 1: I've found that another benefit of posting regularly is that I attract more attention from search engines which can, obviously, have a positive effect on your blog readership.
:: Step 2: With respect to comment spam, I'm using the Akismet plug-in on my self-hosted WordPress blog and find it does a good job in helping me manage the multitudes of comment spam I get daily.
:: I'm wondering what your feeling is about publishing your blog to the various blog directories out there -- Technorati.com, etc.?

Thanks ... Tom

Mack Collier said...

Tom good point about search engines. The regular posting leads to regular links, which boosts your blog's pagerank, which leads to more traffic. Great observation, I didn't really want to get into that because I was trying to keep the steps as simple as possible.

From my experience here, the word-verification eliminates almost all of the spam comments, I used to have to delete several a day, now it's maybe 2-3 a week.

As far as the blog directories, I think it helps some, but I've never seen a huge traffic uptick from it. I put it in the 'if you have time' category.

Thanks for the feedback!

Gavin Heaton said...

Hey Mack ... I love that you say "easy", but each of these take commitment mostly in terms of time, but also in terms of thinking. In many ways, what you are saying is ... "this is the way to tend and grow your garden - virally". Nice.