1. Give a chance to your Audience and get ideas from them
with your posts that answer the most interesting questions from people you engage with on social media.
Dave Larson, founder of @tweetsmarter
This can be a great way to gather ideas of what topics people would most like to read about, which will help your blog grow! One of the best ways I’ve seen this in action is through blog comments or Tweets. In one example, here on Fast Company a lot of people requested a post that features more women entrepreneurs:
Now, a few weeks later adding such an article where just women contributed and built great businesses was a big hit:
2. Understand your audience
Understanding your audience better means you’ll have a better idea of what blog content will resonate with them, which is a good start when you get to writing blog posts.
A great technique for doing this is to simply ask your readers first on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn with an engaging quote. If people respond well to it, than this is probably a great topic to write about. An example for this comes from Andrew Chen who famously “tests” his blogpost ideas on Twitter first.
And so does Joel here at Buffer. Take this example from a recent Twitter post of his, where he simply tweeted one quote to see how well people liked a topic before he blogged about it
3. Write for yourself first
Write first for you only don’t think what the other think about. Put your thoughts in front of peoples and let them to decide what is better thing of what they want.
Adii’s experience in writing for himself firstly has made a difference to his blog in ways he didn’t expect:
Yes, since I’ve been writing for myself, I’ve found that I write more and I publish more often. I think though that the main reason for that is that I don’t decide whether to publishing something based on the traction / reception that the post will receive within my audience; instead if I want to publish something, I do so. For myself.
4. Build your email list
Start building your email list from day one. Even if you don’t plan on selling anything, having an email list allows you to promote your new content to your audience directly without worrying about search rankings, Facebook EdgeRank, or other online roadblocks in communications.
When you’re asking readers to sign up for your email list, you might want to try experimenting with different language. Willy Franzen found that his subscription rate jumped 254% higher when he changed his call-to-action from “subscribe by email” to “get jobs by email”:
Using this phrase more clearly tells Willy’s readers what they’re signing up for, which clearly worked well!
5. Love your existing readers
Love the readers you already have. A lot of bloggers get quite obsessed with finding new readers – to the point that they ignore the ones they already have. Yes – do try to find new readers but spend time each day showing your current readers that you value them too and you’ll find that they will help you grow your blog.
Focusing on your readers is a great way to get to know them better (see tip #2). I love the way Daniel Burstein describes blog readers’ expectations of you as a blogger:
A blog is really two things. One, simply a piece of technology, a platform. But, two, it is a promise in the minds of most readers, who expect that the blog should have actual content with some elements of value that is hyper-targeted to their needs. Much like with a newspaper. Readers don’t just look at a newspaper as newsprint that is delivered on their driveway every morning. They look at it as valuable information about their city, where they live, and the things that they do.
6. Focus on building an amazing call-to-action
I screwed up for years. I’d blog and blog. Some of my posts were doing very well on places like Hacker News, but I had such hard time getting return visitors. And very few people bothered to follow me on Twitter.
Don’t rely on people to do the work to find your Twitter account. Don’t rely on them to do the work to find your details in a sidebar. People are blind to sidebars. Thanks banner ads!
Finish your blog post with some kind of call to action to signup for an email list or follow you on Twitter. When I started doing this, I immediately increased my Twitter followers by 335% in the first 7 days.
Nate uses a simple call-to-action on his blog now, that looks like this:
This particular technique we’ve also tested here on the Buffer blog and found it to work amazingly well to bring attention to other blog posts we’ve written, like this:
or to Buffer product features, like this:
7. Give stuff away
Give away free content that adds value to people’s lives “until it hurts” and they will love you and become loyal fans.
A great example of this is the research done by Incentivibe, who found that adding a giveaway contest pop-up to the bottom-right of their website led to 125% more email subscribers.
8. Be consistent
Consistency is one of the most important things that bloggers tend to forget. It’s much easier to lose your traffic than it is to build it up, so make sure you consistently blog.
A study by Hubspot showed that consistent blogging actually leads to higher subscriber growth rates:
Over a two-month span, businesses that published blog entries on a regular basis (more than once a week) added subscribers over twice as fast as those companies that added content once a month.
09. Give your email list priority
If you’re blogging to create a business, a movement, or to support a cause, then you need to build an email list. It’s not an option. I don’t even consider my blog to be my community, my email list is my community. Caring about these people, writing for them, and delivering value to them should be your number one goal.
When the New York Public Library focused on growing email subscription rates, this simple home page design with information about what readers could expect to receive boosted numbers by 52.8% over a more complicated version with less information about the actual newsletter:
10. Write catchy headlines
No matter how great your content is, it won’t matter unless you have an amazing headline. People have a split second to decide if they should click on your post, and your headline will make them decide. The headline is also essential in making it easy and desirable for people to share your post. Keep your headlines SPUB: simple, powerful, useful and bold.
Something we do at Buffer is to test several different headlines for each of our blog posts to determine which ones works best. Here’s an example of what that might look like:
You can read more about this particular approach in more depth here: A scientific guide to writing great headlines on Twitter, Facebook and your Blog
I’m sure there are lots more great tips out there about building a blog. What’s your favorite?