This is part two of a two part series
Con’t from Getting Visitors
There are many ways to gain visitors to your blog but the most effective one, in my opinion, is to get involved in the blogosphere. It’s like showing up at a party where no one knows you. A few people may introduce themselves of their own volition and if they are so inclined may introduce you to their friends but the best way to make people know you are there is to go out an introduce yourself.
It’s okay. Don’t be shy. Most bloggers don’t bite and will welcome you with open arms as long as you are sincere. The worst possible thing you can do is to show up at someone else’s blog and leave useless comments like, “Nice Blog” followed by a link to your site and the insistence that they visit you. That’s because, among other things, spam is all the rage now even though it is the bane of internet existence and leaving trite comments with a link to their site is a trademarked move of a spammer.
So when you visit other bloggers, read what they have to say carefully and leave sincere and thoughtful comments. You’ll make a bunch of cool friends and get visitors to your blog. For more tips on commenting please see my article, The Blogger’s Guide to Comment Etiquette.
Other ways to bring people to your blog involve joining internet forums and communities of interest to you. Most allow you to add a link to your blog both in your profile and in the signature field of your posts. If you want instant gratification, you can join a traffic exchange site like BlogExplosion and BlogAdvance. It’s a great way to surf blogs and by doing so on their systems you earn credits that put your blog in rotation to have others visit you. For more ideas please read my article, Building Your Fanbase.
Now that you’ve roped them into visiting your blog, the real challenge lies in keeping readers glued to your blog and coming back for more. There are many factors that contribute to who your fans are and how many you have. Some, such as your website template and your content, you have control over and others, such as personal taste, are beyond your influence.
Your major draw and simultaneous major repulsion will be your content with your website template pulling up a close second. Let’s start with the easier of the two. As we discussed earlier in this article, your website template should reflect your personality but at the same time it should be user friendly. This means that your visitors need to be able to navigate to all parts of your website easily without getting stranded.
Your color scheme should be easy on the eyes. Sorry but neon pink font on a black background is a no-no and adding too many flashy thingies to your blog will distract your readers and likely cause epileptic seizures. You want your visitors to remember your content not the blinding flash of animated banners and the dizzying array of sidebar gizmos. That’s not to say you can’t have any of those things but remember “moderation” is not a four letter word.
As a writer, I believe that all writing is valid, useful and entertaining in some way therefore it has always been difficult for me to tell people what they should write about. So instead of laying down a tablet of commandments of what thou shall and shalt not write about, I’ll instead offer a few suggestions on how to make what you do write more appealing.
At its heart, blogging is no different than any other writing. It entails relaying a story to an audience in a way that said audience can understand and relate to what you are saying. It begins with making sure your posts are readable. It doesn’t matter what language you write in, make sure you mind the grammar and spelling rules. No one expects you to be perfect but your readers should be able tell the difference between “I asked him to come with me” and “I axed him, two come whit me”.
Your posts should have a beginning, middle, end and a point somewhere in the midst of all that. Without these things, you are just rambling on aimlessly and quite possibly confusing, or worse boring, your readers. And speaking of boring, you might want to try and keep your posts length between 750 and 1000 words. Attention spans are not what they used to be but this of course is subject and personality dependant. Find what works for you and go with that.
Try to use descriptive language and imagine that you are telling your story to a friend because, in essence, that is what you are doing. The blogosphere is your friend and you’ve got something you want to share with them.
Another way to help keep visitors to your blog is to interact with them. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions and be sure to follow up on any comments they make on your posts. This will help foster a sense of community and most everyone likes feeling as though they belong. Understand however that people grow and change and that no matter what you do you will lose readers but also gain readers through the same dynamic.
Keeping Track of Visitors
RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. This is also a bit of code that allows your visitors to read your blog posts in their feed readers. What a feed reader does is help them keep tabs on their favorite site all in one place. The user inserts your code in their profile and the service they are using will ping your website to check for the latest posts and then display those posts. You can check out how it works at some of the more popular feed sites such as Bloglines and Google Reader.
While you may want your visitor to read your blog posts on your blog, many internet users usually are involved with more than one website and just don’t have time to visit every single site to check for updates. Besides there is no barrier to them visiting and leaving a comment. All they do is click the link to the blog post to leave a comment and they are automagically transported to your website.
Most blog hosts and software come with this service. Usually it’s just a matter of making sure it is activated and the link to your syndication feed prominently displayed.
There you have it. The basics on how to blog. Everything else is just fine tuning which we’ll cover at one point or another in the coming weeks. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask questions and try new things. But most of all have fun!