I’ve had my blog for over two years and I’ve been posting regularly for twelve months solid and seen a growth in readers on my blog for each of those months – except the two months when I’ve deliberately slowed down and focused my energies elsewhere – because sometimes life does get in the way of my writing time!
My blog is a niche subject and in my eyes, lifestyle and travel blogs are always way more popular than history (why?). However, history doesn’t always have to be centuries old. Recently, I’ve written more 20th century posts than I ever would have thought I would. One of my popular posts is the piece I wrote on Harry Potter: a History of Magic – the Exhibition at the British Library.
Some bloggers just write for themselves and others write to gain a readership, only you know how important gaining readers is for you. Below are some of the top tips that I can recommend to draw readers to your blog – gaining you more views – and potential monthly growth.
- Have an eye-catching title! I suggest keeping it on the short side, make it succinct and relevant to your content. My early posts saw me trying to think up intelligent titles. It is generally not worth the bother, you will save a lot of stress keeping it simple!
- Add photos! Photos draw the eye – I always try to choose my best photo as my ‘featured image’ which will sit proudly at the top of my blog. When you add photos – featured and in the body of the text – make sure you caption them – this will help your readers and search engines pick up your content. You don’t need lots of photos, but one or two will help break up the text as readers find it hard to stay focused on a large wall of writing. If you don’t take your own photos go to ‘add’ when writing your post and choose ‘Free Photo Library’, they have an amazing selection.
- Hyperlink previous relevant blog posts! This helps promote previous posts. It might only gain one or two extra readers/views each time you do it but it helps showcase older posts and keeps your older content active. It also prompts newer followers to take a look at older posts that they might otherwise ignore.
- Be an active blogger! That is read and comment on other peoples’ blogs – not just random likes but constructive and engaged comments to help build a community that is inclusive of your blog. Ask a question at the end of your post – it will invite readers to comment and thus you’ve started a blogging friendship! Keep searching for blogs to follow in the Reader as this helps keep your readership active. Many of those that I follow have stopped blogging or have a reduced schedule and this may happen to you. Step outside of your niche, you may find that choosing a lifestyle or a diarist type of blogger really suits your downtime and helps you relax. I did!
- Use tags and categories! By tagging up to 15 combined tags and categories you will be making your blog posts as attractive to search engines as possible. Don’t use more than 15 combined as the WordPress anti-spam measures will kick in and stop search engines finding you. Even when I wasn’t adding regular content to my blog I had a small number of regular views due to having the right content and tags to attract search engines. My search engine hits have really taken off this last couple of weeks – but I’ve been very active on Twitter and Facebook with #BlackHistoryMonth hashtags to showcase some of my black history articles so that may have improved stats. Also, I’ve noticed that certain academic papers are always popular when term time begins!
- Use social media to promote your blog! I’ve used social media since my earliest blogging days – having sampled Facebook, Facebook Page, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Instagram I can honestly say that regular Facebook has worked the best for me. It has a core cohort of regular readers plus the option of any other article I post getting viewed and shared. I have added content into dedicated family history groups and received hundreds of views of one article. Twitter tends to need repeated postings because its feed moves so fast and finding the optimum time of day for your readers can be tricky. I don’t engage with friends on Twitter so maybe that is why I see little gain from it. My HistorianRuby Facebook Page is growing but I’m not sure of the benefit in gaining readers – although, it gives the option of a post going viral and that is always a good thing. Reddit gives me a few random views and the most data that I can gather from it is – if my post is about the royals I’ve half a chance of it being read! I’ve seen a growth in Pinterest lately, you do need to be active daily, saving Pins etc., but it takes seconds. I now have a dedicated HistorianRuby Blog board and also share posts on other relevant boards.
- Post regularly! This is something that helps develop your blog. You may wish to schedule – I admit I’m rubbish at that! Some bloggers prefer that their blog is organic and post as and when they want, others stick to a rigid schedule, I’m an impatient blogger and post as soon as an article is ready! The more you post, the more people read.
- Enjoy it! Being happy in your work does filter through to what you write. If you’re passionate about your subject it shows! And people enjoy reading something that is written well and sends a positive message.
- Participate in blog parties and blog awards! This is purely a personal choice if you do this. But in my experience blogging awards are attractive to other bloggers. Blog parties specifically invite bloggers to mingle, therefore gain you readers and some new followers. I’ve forgotten to do a few blog award posts lately, so if you’ve tagged me and then I didn’t follow up with a post, I apologise! I’ve been very busy and I do let them slip away from me.
- Use your blog’s theme to its full potential! If your theme supports featured content (I use Canard) use it to showcase the latest five blog posts taking pride of place on your home page. Featured content groups similar tagged posts together and using this has really helped encourage visitors to my homepage read two or more of my featured posts.