Wednesday, 15 June 2016

9 Ways to Engage a Blog Audience


I’ve been blogging since October 2011 via my neetswriter blog, and since January 2015 via my neetsmarketing blog (this one). Both blogs between them have received 200K page views during that time, and they receive together around 7-8K page views per month, depending on how often I post and how much I promote the blogs on social media. Sometimes they get more. You may not mind whether anyone reads your blog, you may be writing it for friends and family, or for fun. But if you want your posts to be shared on social media and to receive comments (although often these days, comments are left on Facebook instead of the post), here follow a few points on blogging, and some ideas on how to engage a blog audience. This post is aimed at writers/authors.

How often should you blog?

I don’t blog daily or weekly; I aim to post on each blog once a month (which I suppose is the equivalent of fortnightly on one blog), and often I include a guest post on my neetsmarketing blog too. I try to make the content interesting on the neetswriter blog, and useful on the neetsmarketing blog; sticking to my brand in each case.

I’d rather write one good quality post per month that gets some attention than four posts that nobody reads (sometimes it takes me a while to write a post, especially for this blog). There are many thoughts online about how often you should blog. I’ve known authors who have blogged daily or weekly, and after a year or two they’ve stopped blogging altogether because it was too much. If you blog daily or weekly, are you getting the page views to make it worth the time you spend writing the post? Do you need to blog weekly, could you blog fortnightly or monthly and write posts which get the same number of page views, or more (of the daily/weekly posts combined)?

There are a lot of posts out there saying how important it is to blog daily or weekly, but if you're doing that and your posts aren’t being read, and you’re spending a lot of time writing them; as well as leaving comments on other blogs so someone reciprocates on your posts, and reciprocating for comments left, is it worth it? If your daily/weekly posts are being read, and you have time to leave/reciprocate with comments, then it's worthwhile.

Quality over quantity

My thoughts are quality over quantity-you can milk the same post, especially a popular one on social media for a week at least. I wouldn’t expect my loyal blog followers to visit more often than they do (I'm grateful to anyone who comments or shares via social media), and I can’t commit to reciprocating with reading or commenting more often than once a month. Because, don’t forget, blogging isn’t just about writing a post, it’s about promoting the post on social media, and commenting on other blogs. And if you’re not careful, it can eat time you need for writing (been there early on with the neetswriter blog).

Why should someone read your posts?

There are so many posts out there, why should someone (hereafter referred to as “blog reader”) read your posts? Aim to make posts thought-provoking. Your blog reader needs to feel: empathy, inspired; and/or that they’re learning something new.

And you want the blog reader to return. When they see on Twitter, Facebook etc that you’ve written a post, the ideal scenario is that they click through straight away, or make a mental note that you’ve got a new post out, and that they’ll read it later.


Social Media promo, Title and Photos

Before you can engage a blog audience, they need to find your post in the first place. This will mostly be via social media, especially initially, but once your blog has a few posts, you’ll probably find that some views come via Google searches (this is great!)

You need to entice the blog reader with a title which makes them want to find out more. Be punchy, use a question, or a number as I’ve done with this post, or perhaps a title which could have more than one meaning. A photo which relates to the post in some way can draw your reader in, and if you include a photo at the top of the post, Facebook (and possibly Twitter, depending on whether your blog has Twitter cards set up), should pick up the photo when you and others post the link. You can include other photos throughout the post too.

Here follow 9 Ways to Engage a Blog Audience

Content:

1. Move your blog reader or give them something to think about


My most successful neetswriter posts have been ones where the blog reader can empathise. The most recent neetswriter post, My Mother and The Durrells, inspired by the anniversary of my mother passing away and the TV programme, The Durrells was my most popular neetswriter post for a while. This was probably because many blog readers could empathise with losing someone, and The Durrells was a big hit on TV, so using #TheDurrells hashtag on Twitter helped. The post came to me fully formed when I woke up at five in the morning, the day after a trip to the National Gallery, which I used to visit with my mum. Often I use what I’ve been doing, how it relates to my writing/books and turn it into a blog post.

My most popular neetswriter post to date is: The Pros and Cons of Writing in the First Person Present Tense, closely followed by If only I’d known this when I wrote my first draft. The first post from October 2011 still gets views now, with no promo, via Google searches. I wrote a Part II in 2013 which again did well, and I linked the posts to each other. If you read these posts, you’ll see how my writing may have evolved since those earlier days of blogging...

2. Provide useful information

My neetsmarketing blog is packed with advice for writers on how to use social media, inspired by client and course attendee questions. The most popular posts are about Twitter and Facebook, and there are lots of helpful posts written by guests too.

Top three posts:




3. Use your brand to engage potential readers of your books

If you write historical fiction, you can write about the history relating to your book. I have a series of eighteenth century and art posts waiting to be written for if/when my book 2 is published with photos all ready. If your book is set in Spain, write about Spain. If your books are about dogs, write about dogs. If there's a popular TV programme or film which links to your brand, use it, and then you can link to the hashtag on Twitter too (eg. The Durrells above). Some authors choose to write about writing, and some prefer not to. I've heard that posts about writing can be popular, and I guess if they bring page views, you could do a few here and there to gain followers.

4. Have an angle

Often, I write a post and return to it later on. Then I ask myself what I’m trying to say, and amend the post so that it has an angle. 

5. Get your facts right

If you quote someone or something, check your facts, so that your blog reader trusts you, and returns for more. When I write posts about the history relating to my novel, I wouldn’t want to get any of my facts wrong. Because then who is going to trust the information in my books?

Extras:



6. Use photos

I test out photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, using the most popular ones for my blog posts.


7. Format nicely/break into sections

Use headings in bold and make them bigger, use numbers, break the information down into sections so that your blog reader can skim the post if they want to, finding what’s relevant to them.

8. Make sure links work (obvs!)

9. Avoid typos (obvs too!)

My posts on hosting and being a guest:


That’s it! This post was inspired by the blogging part of my course in May 2016.

In other news:

On 18 June, I wrote an article for the online magazine, Women Writers, Women’s Books: 


My Social Media Course for Writers, 8 October 2016 in London:


My next Social Media Course for Writers is at the same venue as in May 2016, and there’s an early bird discount of 10% until the end of June. Bookings have been coming in and places are limited.


See Facebook photos and comments from my course in May 2016 here .

Find out more details and see quotes from previous courses via my website here

Book by sending an email to anitajchapman at gmail dot com.


And I shall be at the RNA Conference in July 2016! Look forward to seeing some of you there. Here are my posts from last year's conference in London:


If you missed Sue Moorcroft's recent guest post on Street Teams, you can read it here

On 21 June 2016: author, Liz Fielding will be a guest with her fab post on newsletters (now published, 21 June 2016).


4 comments:

  1. I've noticed a recent trend for people to comment on facebook rather than the blog too. I suspect that's easier if they don't already have a blog and therefore profile on the same platform.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Patsy! Yes, I find that I get a lot more comments on Facebook these days, including in the groups and on Twitter too :)

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  2. I've found that too, Patsy - some comment on my blog and some on Facebook. I was particularly interested in your comment on how often to blog. I blog once a week but recently missed a week when I was away. I noticed that I had nearly as many page views without posting anything new, which made me wonder whether I might drop down to once a fortnight (I have less time now with the novel as well as the mag stories).

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Wendy. I couldn't manage blogging weekly, would end up churning out rubbish in a hurry, but your posts are always perfect, Wendy!

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