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We All Want Readers

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I know that this is two posts in one week about blogging, but I’ve received a few emails since my post on Monday about making your blog tastier to advertisers.  Most of the questions have been requests for more in depth tips for drawing in more traffic.  Honestly, if I had all of the answers, I would hopefully have more than 20,000 visitors a month like I do now (which is awesome, but not Smart Passive Income awesome, lol).  But here is what the last 3 years have taught me about increasing blog traffic.

Top 3 Tips to Draw In Readers

1.  Your site has to be visit-worthy.

I do not expect to be looking at thousand dollar sites when I read a regular personal blog, but don’t make it hard for me to want to stay!  I need to be able to navigate around without feeling like I’m opening a combo lock.  And I definitely don’t want to feel like my eyeballs are being assaulted.

I tried a black background blog with white lettering when I first started, and you know what?  I got complaints from the super nice people that were bothering to read a brand new site anyway.  When 3 of the 10 total readers you have take the time to email you personally to ask for more normal colors, LISTEN.  It takes years (probably forever) to get a site to look just the way you want it to, but make sure that you also are making it at least welcoming for others if you ever hope to have some followers.

If you have no idea where to start with your site, you can find sites to help walk you through the process.  I don’t like spending money before I make money on a hobby job, so I just picked a free theme with WordPress that I decided was flexible enough.  Then I set up the basics, started writing daily, and spent a few hours for several weeks making it as welcoming as I could.  I’m still not 100% satisfied with the look of BFS, but since my tastes change all of the time, I think it’s to be expected.  🙂

2.  Your site has to be read-worthy.

If I am visiting your site for the first time, I generally first scope out the most recent post, then the ones that are easily scrolled through after that, and finally I click on your “About” section.  If the posts I can see are all boring, I usually won’t be back.  If I wanted info posts less than 400 words long about something that already has 600 articles about it, I would Google for it and see what reputable sites pop up.

I am reading your specific site to hear your voice. If you can make “Tips” posts fun, than more power to you!  But if it’s just a blah, blah rundown of info I already know, well, sorry but I have better things to do.  As Donna Freedman spoke about during the last Financial Blogger Conference, develop a voice of your own.  Readers want to be entertained AND informed if possible.  STOP BEING LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.  Really try to use your humor, or expertise, or writing style to make me want to read your stuff again.

3.  To grab “real” followers, you have to guest post and comment elsewhere.

No one can find out your site exists unless they see you around the blogosphere.  To be seen, you have to write.  That means guest posting (or staff writing) and commenting all over the place.  Why would other bloggers read you if they don’t know you exist?  How will non-bloggers find you if your name isn’t all over the place?  Why would bloggers add you to their blogroll if they don’t know you?

Remember that growing a site will mean putting time into the rest of the sites in your niche too.  That’s just how you grow friendships and acknowledgement.  If that isn’t something that you want to do, than please let me know what else has worked for you.  To my knowledge, you can’t grow online without being talked about.  I prefer to generate that talk with solid comments, great guest and staff posts, and by helping others.  I love that part of blogging, but it is time consuming.  Don’t blow it off.

What other big tips can you think of to draw in new readers?

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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16 thoughts on “We All Want Readers

  1. Thanks for this post, Crystal! I’ve had to scale back my blogging adventure due to work, school, and two pre-schoolers at home (Eegads!), but I’m trying to absorb as much as possible in the next year so I can hit the ground running when I’m able to commit more time. I always enjoy your insight, as well as all of the personal finance blogs I’ve found through you (and I’m not even a financial blogger!).


  2. As a new blogger, I always check out the sites of those that comment on my blog, and the sites of the others who comment on the posts I leave comments on.

    I do have a small addendum to #3. It helps if your comments actually have some content to them. Sure there are times when a simple “Loved this post” will do, but if that’s all your comments ever say, it can come across as spam-y. It also doesn’t help you engage with the author/blog owner, which makes it much easier to be forgotten and/or overlooked.

  3. Great tips Crystal. The most successful thing I have done with my blog is to just go and comment on everyone elses. I try not to leave comments like “great work”, but ones with some feeling behind them. This has worked for me. I am just getting into guest blogging now, so hopefully it will work out.

  4. On the first blog that I started I spent all of my time commenting on other blogs. I barely did any guest posts and I would spend so much time commenting that I would barely have time to write for my own blog. This time I took a totally different approach. I focused my energy on guest posting and I have had more visitors in the past three months than I had in a year on my previous blog. I have also had triple the amount of subscribers.

    It’s just something to keep in mind because it is so easy to become consumed on leaving comments on 50 blogs everyday. It may not be the best payoff.

  5. I love blogging tips! Not that I am a huge success, but I think you just have to put in the time, post regularly, and do commenting and guest posting. I don’t see it as a chore at all. I’ve met some of the most amazing people, and many, you included, are very willing to help a newbie out.

  6. Guest posting definitely helped me a lot when I was starting out way back in 2007. I’d also encourage everybody to take a step back and ask what your ultimate goal is. For many bloggers the primary goal is to make money by offering readers valuable content. Understanding your ultimate goal will help you determine things like where to guest post and what type of traffic you want. For example, you can get a ton of social media traffic, but it often results in little to no revenue and few engaged readers. In contrast, search engine traffic can generate a ton of revenue from readers who find your content truly helpful. And guest posting is a lot better way to generate search engine traffic than commenting (although commenting is a lot of fun and helps build community, which is important, too). Just my two cents.

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