Have you ever finished writing a blog post, then anticipated a deluge of page hits and comments? After all, you’ve just finished writing what you believe is a truly insightful post, a fresh take on a common theme or daily occurence, so obviously people out in the blogosphere will stop by. I sure have. I remember eagerly penning this post about the role of personal expression in writing instruction for struggling students. So far, it has only generated one response.
While I don’t work tirelessly to increase readership of the ‘Stew, one of the many reasons I enjoy blogging is creating dialogue. It’s simply more enjoyable to put ideas and musings out there, exchanging questions and comments with readers, rather than the blog simply be a refined diary of sorts. I also consider digitally interacting with you “strangers” out there more satisfying than posting to facebook walls of long-ago neighborhood friends.
But I am coming to understand that promoting a blog and gaining a consistent readership and dialogue is no simple task. It’s like a part time job. Simply producing great content won’t produce readership; it takes active marketing.
Have you considered the complex, multifaceted ways bloggers attempt to promote their posts and drive page views? This enlightening infographic from edudemic.com provides a road map for those of us who are at least somewhat interested in understanding the multitude of strategies bloggers and other web writers employ to create traffic. The graphic made me pause, challenging me to run down the list of what I do–and don’t do–to promote this blog according to five categories: Social Media, Bookmarking Sites, Personal Contacts, Other Blogs, and Syndication.
Social Media–I link my posts to Facebook and Twitter, but I do not use Pinterest, Linkedin, or Google+.
Bookmarking Sites–I don’t currently utilize sites like Reddit, Digg, or Delicious.
Personal Contacts–I do share blog posts with professional groups and message boards, but I do not add a link on e-mail signatures or send out links in mass e-mails.
Other Blogs–This is the category in which I interact the most–I do try to carve out time to comment on other blogs, submit as a guest blogger, and respond to the vast majority of comments left at the ‘Stew.
Syndication–Apparently, you can submit your blog to a number of sites, including DemandStudios, to help spread your content to larger, more established news sites like USA Today and Salon.
What are my takeaway? As much as enjoy writing and blogging, I have no desire to elevate the hobby to a part-time job–it takes too much effort to fully engage in all of the above promotion categories. And I do not envy those who attempt to make a living out of online writing and blogging. There’s so much great content out there, so many distractions, and so much time needed to drive readers to a given site. I’m curious to know about your approach to blogging and promotion:
What do you do to promote your blog? Do you care about increasing your readership? What other tips or insights do you have to offer about promoting your blog, or blogging in general?
Glad you stumbled upon my blog!
Thanks for the tip regarding Google Alerts–haven’t used it, but will test it out.
A useful post. I am not quite a “newbie”, but still have much to learn. One think that struck me particularly was the business of guest blogging … blogging on other sites (I do) and having guests on my (plan to start up soon). It was a wonderful way to get to “know” other bloggers as people, not just as names. One suggestion for finding blogs in your interest area is Goggle Alerts. That’s how I found yours. And I’m glad I did.
As a baby blogger, it’s really encouraging to read your post (and the comments!) and find so many things that I resonate with. As you said, it’s so frustrating to post something that I believe is truly good or insightful, and have it slowly sink into my archives without generating a response. I haven’t really decided whether I’m going to devote a ton of time to marketing my blog… we’ll see. Regardless, thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone =)
I spent a LOT of time, every day for probably an entire year, wandering through WordPress blogs (back when they were easier to read and access) looking for the handful I wanted to read and leave a “like” or sincere comment in. I made this a consistent part of my day. Tedious, yes. Time consuming, yes. But it worked — plus being FPed six times. I slowly and steadily found that probably 70% plus linked back to me and began following.
Now I only visit FPed posts and people are finding me, through others’ blogs or links or Facebook or twitter. I post maybe 20% of my posts on Facebook; since many of my friends are also professional writers, it’s a different audience, not just pals.
What you’ve written about folks you know resonates with me. I have plenty of “real” friends and family who say they enjoy reading this blog, but they rarely comment. I think there’s something about being involved in the WordPress/blogging community that lends itself to the give and take, versus simply reading and clicking on the next best link.
I like the idea of adding one marketing strategy at a time–that will help you determine whether or not it’s worth the effort.
Looking at your makes me ashamed. I don’t do hardly anything to market my blog, but I’ve started to desire it. I do want to blog/write full time in the end, so I think I’ll start adding one marketing strategy at a time, like start with social networking, analyze that, then move on, increase as I go.
I haven’t been blogging for very long, but I agree that I am looking for more of a dialog than a place to display. I post to Facebook & LinkedIn right now and mostly hear from the folks that I actually know that they mean to get around to reading my stuff soon – some of the titles looked really interesting…
Great post Paul. It “is” a part time job. 🙂
I have a twitter account that has over 400 followers, but I think only five of them read my blog and I have know idea who approximately 400 of them are. My blog readership has been steadily growing, but it is nowhere near 400 readers. However, approximately half of them consistently either like or comment on some of my posts. I would rather have 50-ish people who care and comment than over 400 “followers” who never look…
Of course, I would rather have 400 people who comment.
Exactly. I have been able to expand several of my blogs into articles for “Empirical” magazine. In the end I see blogging as an opportunity to organize my thoughts and work on my writing skills. If anyone reads them, and especially if they comment, it’s icing on the cake.
Some people have the time to chase readers, I suppose, but it takes true dedication. I have too many other hobbies that keep me occupied at the moment.
I’ve had the same reaction. Some days, I notice a high number of page views but few comments. I’d rather have a strong correlation between page views and comments…but I also understand that we’re all pulled so many different directions and can’t–or don’t want to–dedicate the time to comment on all of the worthwhile content out there. Thanks for the compliments!
Right on Hugh…popular sites seem to pump out more “high-interest” posts.
I enjoy being more deliberate about posts, and I sometimes turn the ideas into articles to pitch to other publications.
Greetings Issac, I think we’re on the same page as far as trying to find that promotional balance. A lot of the marketing stuff doesn’t feel genuine to me. With regards to substantive posts, I’m cutting back to 3-4 posts a month due to other real work responsibilities and commitments, and I believe that will be a reasonable goal for the time being.
I’m in complete agreement about interest in posts. I’ll admit I do skim a lot of online material, but it’s great to really be captured by a certain idea or post and share a thought.
I’ve been fortunate to have been Freshly Pressed twice, which has accounted for a big chunk of Mindful Stew followers, but I know many people who regularly comment were following before a surge in site hits. I agree it’s more enjoyable to exchange ideas with a few other thoughtful bloggers than having a high stats count!
Interesting thought about chasing readers, but who really has the time? I write because I love to write. I think because without I’d be stale. I combine the two because it makes sense. If Shoeless Joe Jackson comes meandering out of the cornfield and brings with him a cadre of readers, so be it, but for the time being I am just happy to have a place to write.
I’d love to have more readers, but for the same reason you said – to engage in a dialogue with others – not to simply have “more readers” or “more pageviews.” I actually find it somewhat sad and dissatisfying to see my Stats indicate that a bunch of people stopped by and yet not a single person commented. That feels lonely to me. Thank you for this terrific post; it really resonates with me (I’ve done exactly what you describe in the first paragraph). I’m building my audience solely through other blogs at this point, but the ideas you discuss here get me thinking about other avenues. Thanks
Timely post, as I’ve contemplated on this a lot recently. I totally understand your frustration – it’s hard not to be deflated when a post I personally think is really great doesn’t generate much interest. I’ve also gone through similar struggles with balancing doing blog promotion and how much resources I should devote to it. The thing I find is a lot of the promotional techniques that are championed are more catered to blogs that are frequently updated with briefer posts or act as aggregators, and not as well suited for blogs with actual substantive content. Definitely makes it harder to be visible when you don’t put out something two to three posts per day to generate the views. But I’ve made my peace with it. 🙂
I used to worry about the number of readers. I would still like a few more. But I finally decided that I would prefer to have a nucleus of readers who are interested in reading what I have to write. And I note that the popular sites seem to write about things that make people happy. I am more interested in making people think — as are you — which may not make them especially happy. That will never be terribly popular! I have finally come to accept that fact.
I enjoyed this post immensely. I’m a relative minnow in terms of Followers and decided over our summer (Christmas) break to start to read more broadly and comment on more Blogs. My readership has grown from around 10 to 40 over a couple of months. Quite a few of these are via the Reader, under the topic ‘Blogging’, where newer bloggers have followed me after I’ve made a comment – probably as they’ve had a quick look at my site and having not gained a great deal of experience, have added me.
For me, it is not so much about increasing my readership, rather than knowing you have people actually interested in reading your posts. I read this through from top to bottom – how often do we skim something or stop before the end? To this end, having 10 dedicated readers would beat having 100 ‘stats’ who are not that fussed overall.
What do you think?