Blog Pop Chart
My Blogging Table of Contents has six articles to help you assess and improve the quality of your blog, and attune it to the interests of your target audience. The “What the Blogosphere Wants More Of” list way down at the bottom of my right sidebar has some more ideas. This article distils it all down to the ten things you can do that are most likely to increase your readership, and keep it growing. Marketing 101 for Blogs.


Marketing is useless if you don’t have a good ‘product’. Here are five ways to ensure you do.

  1. Provide something unique: There are so many blogs out there, even if you’re writing brilliantly, you won’t attract an audience if someone who’s already more widely-read is writing on the same subjects. First-hand accounts or data, original research, surveys, original ideas, original graphics or photos or artwork, all help establish your uniqueness. World O’Crap, one of the newest and yet most popular Salon blogs, is written by a liberal who almost exclusively frequents right-wing conservative blogs and news sites, catches them in lies and exaggerations and inconsistencies, and then writes biting, hilarious satire about them. Unique, brilliant, and very funny.
  2. Provide something valuable: Give readers a high ‘return on their investment’ in reading your blog by (a) entertaining them, (b) teaching or helping them to do something (lessons learned etc.), (c) informing them about something they need to know about, (d) giving them a ‘take-away’ (checklist, great quote, useful tool, etc. — something that will cause them to immediately bookmark or blogroll or write about your site and revisit it often), (e) saving them time (distilling something down, analyzing it, researching it), or (f) providing deep insight about what something means (great graphics can help do this).
  3. Be first: The first person to write about a particular topic will probably get a large share of traffic about it. Even if a more popular blog picks up on it, they’re likely to link to you and send even more readers your way. First-hand accounts, on-the-spot photos, comments from people who were at the scene of breaking news all make fascinating reading. Even the first reviews and synopses of new movies and books usually attract a lot of attention.
  4. Do your research: Invest time to learn as much as possible about what you’re going to write about. Spend much more time reading and researching than you do writing. Check your facts. Learn to use search engines powerfully, so no time is wasted looking for just the right information. Don’t neglect primary research — stuff you get from offline sources like real people, in-depth television reports, people you can call or survey to get information that isn’t available on the Web. Always cite and if possible link to your sources. Dig for great finds, stuff that isn’t on the first page of the Google results, information that you need to go through multiple links to find, information embedded in the many databases that are online but aren’t Googled at all. And never lie or exaggerate.
  5. Learn to write very well: Master the art of story-telling. Learn to be brief without being too dense. Write in a conversational, accessible, friendly style. Eschew obscure and intimidating words, like ‘eschew’ (it means ‘avoid’ ;-) Ask people you trust to comment on your writing style. Use point form, examples, restatements for clarity. Be natural. Learn the 39 steps for story-writing; most of them apply to non-fiction, too. Have fun, be loose, show your emotion. Try to avoid clichˆÉ¬©s.


Once you’ve got a world class ‘product’, here’s how to get people to look at it.

  1. Use other media to pull people to your blog: Don’t just write great stuff and wait to be discovered. Use e-mails (sparingly, selectively) to tell people you think might be interested in reading your blog about a particular article you’ve written. Make comments on others’ blogs and include your blog URL when you do. Try to find an A-lister or two who might be interested in one of your articles, and e-mail them (just be aware many others are also looking for A-listers’ attention, so do so sparingly and be patient). Or just comment, early and frequently, on A-listers’ posts (first commenter on any new A-lister post often draws a lot of traffic). Join and participate in discussion groups, always leaving your blog URL at the end of every message. Contribute to e-magazines, either online versions of hard-copy periodicals like Ms., or specialized online journals like Virtual Occoquan. Use outgoing links on your blog and blogroll to articles and blogs written by people you’d like to have as readers: Chances are, they’ll note you when they look at their inbound links list and come over to see what you said about them. And when people write to you, always answer, always acknowledge that they took the time, and always include your URL in your response. But don’t feed the trolls (i.e. don’t reply to readers who write hurtful, malicious or baiting comments or e-mails) or you’ll have readers you don’t want.
  2. Write, at least sometimes, about ‘hot’ topics: You don’t have to be a Googleslut to occasionally get some special buzz on a topic everyone is talking about. Being very focused on narrow, deep topics will get you a faithful readership, but not a particularly large one. Writing about something popular from time to time, especially if you do so before everyone else is writing about it, and say something unique or insightful, will broaden your audience, and bring in what Malcolm Gladwell calls connectors, people who can bring their entire, large networks of potential new readers to see your blog.
  3. Make a great first impression: The average reader who links to your site looks at 1.5 pages and stays 90 seconds. Google hits command a small fraction of even that attention span. That’s how long you have to make an impression that will bring them back. A memorable look, a powerful theme, easy navigation, legibility, making sure your links work and that you’ve spellchecked, using clear headings, clever, attractive graphics, summarizing your long posts, making sure your page doesn’t take too long to load — all these things help create a great first impression, and give your blog what’s called ‘stickiness’. The longer they stay, the more they’ll remember and the more likely they’ll come back.
  4. Learn by studying who’s reading what, and what works: I look at the end of each day who’s been reading How to Save the World (most blogs have a ‘referrer log‘ tool that lists your visitors; services like SiteMeter also provide this information). If I don’t recognize a reader by their URL, I’ll go to their site to see who they are and what brought them to my site (and often say ‘thanks for visiting’ while I’m there). And I track total popularity three ways (see chart above): Average hits/day per the Salon Rankings list, Number of Inbound Blogs per Technorati Cosmos (I also visit any new additions to my Inbound Blogs list), and Number of people subscribed to my RSS feed per Dave Winer’s Who Subscribes List. I know that when I write about certain subjects like blogging or business innovation, I’ll get a spike in hits. But I also know my posts on other subjects, like the environment, economics, and social networking, have different and loyal audiences, who I’d lose if I narrowed the focus of this blog. And some things, like poetry and short stories, I post despite knowing they have a very small audience, because the few comments I do get are essential to improving my writing skills. And because I love writing them.
  5. Get outside more: Real Live Preacher, consistently one of the three most popular Salon Blogs, deliberately seeks out (looking at the Recent Updates List for unfamiliar blog names) and welcomes and helps new bloggers — a tremendous way to get grateful new readers for his smartly written, well-laid-out blog. By using blog directories like EatonWeb or lists like Technorati’s Current Events (or just typing a topic of interest in Technorati’s search bar) you can find other bloggers interested in the same things you are, and connect with them. Or explore the blogrolls of blogs you like. When you find a ‘like mind’, link to them, e-mail them, comment on their weblog, or otherwise let them know you exist and where to find you. But don’t be pushy and overtly ask them to link to you — just let them know where you are, and they’ll come around.

And finally: Be patient — Viral marketing is very effective but takes time to work. Stick with what you’re doing, especially if people are complimenting you — word will spread, and the audience will come. And be yourself. If you try to affect a style that isn’t ‘you’ it will come off as forced or dishonest.

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  1. kopiitem says:

    thx,for your advise,I hope after read your site, I could earning my site.

  2. genial says:

    Hey there… greetings from Jakarta Indonesia..1st of all… forgive my English.. i know i’m not so good on it…I’m totally agree with what you said and very impressed of each words you put there… the advice is awesome.. actually i have some question about my RSS Feed, bref.. why it disappear just like that…?!?!? but for now… forget about it… I like redirecting here, hope this is help me so much in writing through my blog :)thnx in advance

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  9. engi says:

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