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

Via elephant journal
on Apr 5, 2010
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Here are some tips via Chris Courtney, 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:


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive.


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

  1. Jim Tolstrup says:

    And if you can work "Sexy" or "Bum" or something like that into the title the readership will at least double

  2. Good advice, Chris. Thanks.

  3. Great article! From my personal viewpoint, I like to engage readers by asking questions and not "wrapping it up". I like any of my thoughts to be venues for better thoughts and some discussion. Sometimes it hits and sometimes it doesn't.

  4. I find that the better tags I have on my posts, the more diverse traffic I get. For instance, when I do a book review, I tag it with the book title, author, publisher, and then relevant key words. And yeah, John does a great job of engaging his readers.

  5. Naked is good, too! Seriously.

    Or, strangely, anything mentioning veganism always gets good traffic and comments, or American Apparel. At least for our demographic.

  6. That's the hardest thing—to pull back from conclusions but still offer enough that it's not watered-down.

  7. Tags in SEO? You don't mean internal tags?

  8. So I guess you guys are saying the perfect headline would be:

    "Sexy Naked Vegan Bum Tapped for New American Apparel Ads"

  9. Hi Anne, I'll take a look and send you an email.

  10. Anything with a title like "Naked Vegan Revolution" would probably resonate…provided the substance of the article is good and engaging. How about it Gary Smith?

  11. Adam says:

    I use both wordpress and blogger. Tags, labels, whatever. I get hits from people searching the tags on WordPress, as well as people doing google searches with multiple tags (recently: "butsudan, buddhism, gohonzon" and "buddhist, mustache, mullet" – don't ask)

  12. elaine says:

    I am shamelessly hoping that by commenting here some veganish people will check out my blog. 🙂 I'm an "almost vegan" for health reasons, trying (rather unsuccessfully so far) to switch my kids from a conventional diet to a vegan one. I write also on parenting issues. …I LOVE the elephant journal (only recently discovered you!). My latest blog is on the movie you promoted recently, Skin Trade.


  13. […] How to attract readers to your blog. ~ Chris Courtney | elephant journal […]

  14. Almost…if you put Jon Stewart Glenn Beck at the end, that'd be blog gold.

  15. Yah, I was just gonna share with our columnists, but in the interests of traffic…well it'd be hypocritical to keep a post about generating traffic private, and not get any traffic out of it..!

  16. Well, I'm glad you posted this! I use Twitter quite a bit to drive traffic to my blog. Definitely helps to have an engaging lead in, question, keyword, etc.

    Also visiting, reading and commenting on other blogs has been working for me. But I'm still small potatoes …


  17. I would also add that if you've written a blog that features a specific product or person or organization—email is to them and ask them to spread it around to their own networks. People are often psyched to share things that have been written about them, or something they care about—even if they don't think to right away.


  18. Amazing info, Chris and great feedback from everyone else! I definitely tweet, occasionally post on LinkedIn Groups that I'm member of and need to do more posting on Facebook groups.

  19. […] > Advice on blogging from longtime elephant columnist Chris Courtney. […]

  20. jonathan says:

    #1, You don't run EJ off of your own WordPress installation? It looks like you're using Just curious.

    oh, nvm, I see the "upgrade to wp version 2.9" up at the top during the demo.

    and #2, How can I get a job with EJ?

    Seriously though, great site. It's the first thing I open every morning.

  21. michellelmckay says:

    Thanks for these tips!
    I'm a relatively new blogger, and have just stumbled upon this site.
    I think I'd fit in well here, and I hope to make some contributions.!
    Ta again for the tips; anything to increase readership is much obliged!

  22. Ramani says:

    I like leo babutta who does that minimilast website. He doesn't give a crap about social media or driving much traffic as much as posting real and useful content and recognizing that human being are reading his material and not some twitter-tag-e-mail subscriber is going to read his material. He lets people take his work and do whatever he wants with it. He is quite successful.

  23. Lorenz says:

    Great advice. Plus, the title worked because it immediately piqued my interest. Well played, man, well played.

  24. Gayle says:

    What are the biggest yoga groups (some with over 100K members) that you post to? I write articles about yoga so I would love to know what these groups are so I can post there.

  25. michael says:

    Thanks a lot Chris for sharing this post. It’s indeed insightful.

    I’m a new blogger in the blogosphere. My blog aims at encouraging people to live inspired lives.

    I stumbled upon this blog and I’m sure it will be of great help.

    Thanks again.

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