Comments and traffic: crack for bloggers. All blogs have their share of “lurkers” (those folks who read and never comment) and then there’s the segment of regular readers who never actually visit your blog on your site because they get your content in their reader or via email. Convenience is a conundrum for bloggers looking to increase interaction and traffic figures. Unfortunately, there’s no Easy Bake Oven for blogging success – but I can give you tips on how to get people out of their readers and inboxes and back INTO your blog…and garner new readers in the process.
Why would anyone want to come out of their warm RSS reader womb and back into your blog? Because you’re offering something for their time. Step 1: Think of where you’re spending your marketing dollars and time. Step 2: Consider what your readers are worth to you. I write for a living, so my readers are the heart and soul of my day to day. How do I thank them for their time? A reward.
Readers: This week, there is a $25 iTunes Gift Card up for grabs. Just leave a comment with a verifiable email address (required) and in that comment, give me a link to a site you frequent that runs a kickass promotion for its readers. It can be ANY site – you are my eyes and ears. Tell me what other people are doing and WHY you like it. Next Friday, I’ll announce the winner. It’s the WHY you like it that will win you the gift card. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
Do Your Homework
When’s the last time you actually looked at your blog subscriber email list? Get off your ass and get your nose in a book – your blog’s Little Black Book. It’s amazing what you can learn by doing a little homework. Pay attention to the people who Retweet, consistently comment and Stumble or bookmark your content. THANK THEM. Interact with them. Engage. Why would anyone leave a comment on a blog where the blogger doesn’t bother to interact? There’s an old adage in the writing world that goes something to the effect of “If you don’t read, you have no business writing.” I stand by that 100%. When you begin to consider your blog as a classroom, your readers as students and yourself as the teacher, it becomes evident that your class can’t go on autopilot. You need to interact and give them a reason for showing up.
Run an RSS Subscriber Contest
When the new RedheadWriting.com site goes live in February, you’ll see a sexy little RSS Subscriber contest come online. I’ll run it for 30 days and then pick a grand prize winner and 4 additional winners. But how the hell am I going to track who truly subscribes? This great post about tracking RSS contest subscribers from Weblog Tools Collection has it down to a science. Be sure to read through the comments as well – a gem of a find and thanks to Thaya Kareeson for a kickass post that is actionable and on-task for the blogger looking to grow their reach. And a tip about running contests: give away something with a high perceived value. The last contest I ran, I gave away an iPod Touch as the grand prize. It’s why I use iTunes gift cards as weekly prizes. I’m not giving away an mp3 player – I’m giving away an iPod. Whether you’re an Apple fan or not, the iPod/Apple brand carries weight with a large audience. Don’t give away shit people don’t want. It’s like forcing people into a crappy white elephant gift exchange and all you’re going to get for your time is a used tea cozy.
Tonight’s Special Guest
If you’re looking for traffic, look for guest blogging opportunities. I’m a paid contributor for my weekly Dear Redhead column at ToyWithMe.com. I love it! It’s another reason to do your homework – leverage your network to offer your services for a guest blog post. While paid opportunities are difficult to come by and usually require you have a fair-sized following to back up your case, look at it this way: an hour of your time twice a month for unpaid guest blogging opportunities on other blogs gives you exposure to new audiences and the opportunity to build your brand affinity outside your own readership. This gets people out of their reader and into your blog (or your GUEST blog on another site). A few tips on how to make the most of this:
- When you have a guest post, create a post on YOUR blog that gives a lead-in and link to the other blog. Your readers have no choice but to click through and check it out!
- Request that the guest blog link back to your home page or a particular related article on your blog. This encourages NEW readers on that blog to click through to YOUR site.
- Better yet, embed links in your guest post (without being a spammy asshat, mind you) that link back to your blog. It’s best to discuss this in advance with the blog owner. Don’t kick someone in the balls for giving you a chance to grow your readership.
- Offer a reciprocal guest post on your blog in exchange!
A note about requesting guest blog opportunities: When you contact a blog for the opportunity, give them reasons to say YES. List your Twitter following, current subscribers, other key audience factors and how you’ll promote the piece. Many sites have submission guidelines – be sure to follow these. Can’t find anything? First, be sure that they accept guest bloggers. Secondly, send an email through their Contact page. And spell check, for the love of all that’s holy. Spell check.