I normally don’t stray too far from the Civil War on this blog, but I’ve recently been reading up on ways to increase blog readership and I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned, either in these articles or on my own.
First, I thought I’d lead off with some of the better articles I’ve read on the subject:
All of these blogs bring some different ideas to the table and may help you build a better blog yourself.
Second, I thought I’d share some of my own tips and describe what’s worked for me in my on-again, off-again life as a Civil War blogger. I instinctively figured some things out on my own:
- Focus on writing at least one “quality” article per week. If you take the time and effort to really research a post it will show in your finished product. The presence of at least a weekly post of real substance will bring readers in and keep them coming back for more. These quality entries can also be sent to the various blog carnivals around, especially the History Carnival, which can only serve to increase your readership.
- Get yourself linked to as many other sites as possible. When I first started blogging, Dimitri Rotov was the only other Civil War blogger out there. The Civil War blogosphere got some quality new members not too long after when Eric Wittenberg and Drew Wagenhoffer lent their considerable talents to the topic. Where am I going with this? It has to do with linking to other blogs in your topic of interest. The more links you have from others, the more likely readers are to find your site. I’ve made it a policy from day one to try to link to as many other Civil War bloggers out there as possible, and I routinely try to lend a helping hand to new blogs by linking to them. In most cases, you’ll find that your fellow bloggers will return the favor.
- Promote your blog and allow readers to find it. By this, I mean you should include a link to your blog in emails, in your signature for any forums or newsgroups you post in, and generally any time you comment on another blog. Note that most blog comment windows already have a place for you to enter your URL. Do not include your blog link in the actual comment. Doing so is considered bad form and may get you labeled as a spammer. Also, make sure you are actually contributing to these sites when you post or submit a comment. Posting a “come check out my new blog!” post in a forum is just as likely to turn people off. By doing all of these things, you are giving people who share your interests the opportunity to find your blog.
- Post your book reviews or other relevant posts on forums. This way you can show forum members your work (and of course link back to the blog entry at your blog) without just saying “Come check my blog out!” and turning people off, as mentioned above. Again, don’t overdo this. Make sure you are actually a contributing member of the forums you frequent before posting something like this, and make sure it isn’t the only thing you ever post once you do begin this method. I personally tend to use this sparingly. I almost always post only book reviews. This is a popular area on many of the Civil War forums I frequent, and it stays on topic.
- Submit your blog to as many search engines as you possibly can. Most people know of Google and Yahoo, but there are many, many more. Take the time when you are first starting out to let these sites know of your blog’s existence. You’ll start showing up in a lot of different search engines and the traffic should start to increase as a result.
- Submit your blog to as many “blog catalogs” as you can. These sites act as directories for blogs, grouping the blogs by category so readers can find bloggers who blog on their own topics of interest. You’ll notice the catalogs I subscribe to over in the right sidebar of the blog. The one you absolutely SHOULD JOIN is Technorati. I cannot stress that enough.
- Try to post regularly. Time constraints have forced me many times to blog far less than I would like, but blogs which are regularly updated tend to attract and keep readers. If you are looking for an example, Dimitri is usually the king of this method. He doesn’t always have a lengthy post daily, but he stays active even with short blurbs of interest.
That’s enough for now. I may come back to this topic at some other time to discuss some of the benefits and rewards of blogging, including review copies of books, affiliation with bookseller web sites such as Amazon and Abebooks, and inside information learned from contacts you make in the course of blogging. If you have any other good ideas you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!