A reader of this blog recently wrote the following entry in their own blog:
I’ve always thought my posts were okay… but since I started this blog I’ve had a conversion rate of only about 0.24% when it comes to the number of unique visitors I get vs. the number of people who actually subscribe. 60% of visitors leave before even 5 seconds have passed. Maybe I need something more eye-catching… or maybe my blog is just a lot more boring than I think it is. It seems like typically, successful blogs became successful within the first two months, so perhaps this is just a waste of my time. I’m going to set a goal: I want to have 20 subscribers by the end of 2008. And if I don’t, I will stop blogging.
Since they closed comments to that post, I emailed them with my completely unasked-for advice, then decided to publish my thoughts here since it occurred to me that many new bloggers will find it useful.
The technical advice
1. Change your WordPress theme. Your current theme is not very appealing, visually. If you can, pay for customization. Customizing a theme is cheaper than building a new website.
2. For easier tracking of your subscribers, burn a feed with feedburner.com. Place the “subscribe” button at the top of the sidebar. Add a “subscribe by email” link as well.
3. Add images to your posts. Flickr.com has a great selection of free images – just search for “creative commons license” images in the search form and credit the photographer. Edited to add: using images has its risks.
4. Create a community. Find 10-20 small and mid-size blogs in your niche (more on niches later). Start reading them and commenting regularly. This is a good way to build a community around your blog and get comments.
5. Join social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
6. Consider blogging non-anonymously. Anonymity and a lack of a photo make it harder to connect with you.
7. Learn some basic SEO techniques and install the Wordpres SEO plugin. While SEO shouldn’t take over your writing, it’s very important to optimize your posts for search engines. Search engine traffic is important, and you want the right kind of search engine traffic – the kind that sticks around and reads your material rather than the kind that immediately bounces off your site.
The stuff they should REALLY give some serious thought to
8. Decide on a general direction for your blog. What is it about? You don’t have to limit yourself to a very tight niche, but if you can have a general niche, that would help. One of my own challenges with this blog is that I refuse to limit myself to a niche. But anyone who can be happy blogging within a niche should do so, in my opinion. Once you know what your niche is, add a tagline to reflect it.
9. Be patient. It’s not true that blogs succeed after a couple of months. Darren Rowse of Problogger recently said in his interview for Blogging Without A Blog, “For a blog to reach its potential though, you need to give it considerable time. It takes a couple of years to get to its potential.”
10. Ask yourself: what am I trying to achieve with my blog? Remember: most of us will never become famous (how DO you define Interent-famous anyway?) or make serious money from our blogs. So we should have other motives. For some it’s showcasing their work as writers and possibly landing writing gigs or book deals. For others it’s an outlet for their creativity and a way to connect with other people. A blog can also help you attract new customers to your online or offline business.
For me, blogging is about expressing myself in ways, and having a reach and an audience, that would not be available to me without this blog. Making a few extra bucks doing something that I love is a nice bonus. I’m also thinking about this blog in terms of showcasing my work. While I have absolutely no desire to ever write a book, I do love to blog. I currently work part-time writing the UpToUs corporate blog and would like to do more paid writing. My personal blog is a great way to let people know what I’m capable of. One of the items on my to-do list is adding a “hire me” page to this blog.
11. Finally, remember that human nature will cause you to always want more. So when you’ll have 20 subscribers, you’ll want 50 and when you get to 50 you’ll want 100. Think you’ll be satisfied with 500? With 1000? No you won’t. It never ends, which is why setting these goals can lead to perpetual dissatisfaction.
What are YOU trying to achieve with your blog?
Image credit: Annie Mole