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April 5, 2010

How to attract readers to your blog. ~ Chris Courtney + Waylon Lewis how-to blog on WordPress video.

Here are some tips via Chris Courtney, elephantjournal.com Columnist (with typical readership of 1,000 clicks per post, as compared to our average blog being at 100 over the course of a week). Our editor-in-chief, Waylon Lewis, asked him to offer our columnists some tips on how to generate more hits to your blog—and we thought to offer this to the public at large, as these tips can help all of us.

  • I try to write articles the same way I write a song, as if I am having a conversation with a good friend and want to get them to become part of the conversation.
  • When writing for a blog, remember that if you don’t capture your reader’s imagination in the first few lines, they’ll click away and not even finish the post. Also, with blogging, those who try to say too much all at once (especially when doing it all in first person) tend to lose the reader before they finish the piece.
  • For example, an excellent article on American high schools (a rather serious, perhaps boring subject at first glance) could generate over 1,000 hits if it has an engaging opener and a conversational style. Everyone went to high school (and has pretty intense memories about it) so they can relate in some way. Perhaps an opening paragraph starting like this:

“Do you remember your high school years? How could you forget? Sitting for hours in hard desk chairs between moments of awkwardness and social Darwinism while learning things you weren’t sure you’d ever use one day.” (Then, segue into something to set up main points and weave some “connecting verbiage” into the rest so the reader feels like it’s a conversation, not a monologue).

  • Of course, writing something truly compelling with an angle people haven’t heard yet doesn’t hurt either. While pieces may be very well written and quite informative, if they seem to be missing a certain something to get the reader on the same wavelength as the writer, authors miss an opportunity to pull their readers into the conversation.  Great thoughts and facts are best presented bridged into thoughts and experiences the reader can relate to. After all, it’s our job to build the bridge—not theirs. Keep it personal.
  • Join and post your content on some of the Facebook special interest groups’ pages.  For example, a couple of Black Flag groups got after my April Fool’s piece about music, so maybe the author of a high school post could find some parent/school interest groups and post it there (with a nice teaser message).  For example, any yoga piece I do I generally repost on 3-5 of the biggest yoga groups (some with over 100K members).  FB messaging the article to your friends now and then (but not too often lest you become a spammer) also provides a nice boost when the article first goes up.
  • The most potent promoters I have are my wonderful friends all over the world who retweet and repost on their FB Wall and web pages. They know I’ll do anything for them so they seem to want to take care of me and spread the word. It’s truly humbling.

Please don’t get the impression that I think I’m some great writer…I’m still learning every day. In addition to years of policy writing, I wrote on European soccer for 7 years and had 5-10,000 readers per week, did national radio, etc. and would get some very incisive reader feedback which helped me to grow.

What else do you do that helps? Stumbleupon? Twitter? SEO? Being active in comments with your readers?

Please share your tips, experiences and techniques in comments below, if so inspired.

Bonus, Team elephant:

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