Lee Odden

5 Ways to Grow Your Blog Community and Readership

Lee Odden     Blogging Strategy

Grow Blog CommunityThe more relevant readers of your blog content, the more opportunities to attract, engage and convert those readers in your online sales efforts.

Content marketing, brand publishing, media sites that blog, and consumer publishing are all competitors for the time and attention of your target audience.

So how can a company increase the number of readers of its blog content?

Here are 5 tips I’ve implemented with many companies and for ourselves over the years.

1. Facts tell, but stories sell. Tell stories! Whatever it is that you’re trying to communicate – boring, exciting or neither – always think of what “the story” is. You can find good stories in anything.  Use metaphors and analogies as inspiration for stories. Facts and statistics do have their place of course and can provide some very compelling logic behind an interesting story.

2. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Empathize with whatever market or audience you’re after. Put yourself in their shoes when thinking of topics, pain points and goals. Write about the journey to solving those problems. Think about what your readers care about in the context of what you’re trying to communicate. What is the common ground?

3. People will work for a living, but die for recognition. Find ways to ask your readers, subscribers, fans, friends and followers to interact and participate. Reward and recognize the kind of participation you’re after. Repeat. The simple satisfaction of contributing and being recognized is one of the most powerful when developing a strong blog community.

One of the great things about social networks and media working in tandem with a blog is that you can extend your reach beyond current readers and use those platforms for engagement. In fact, asking relevant and easy to answer questions on Twitter, G+, Facebook and LinkedIn has proven to be a very effective content crowdsourcing method. Not only can you get great insights, but additional reach through the networks of your network. Recognizing participants in the resulting blog post provides your community highly regarded feedback and inspiration to share, reaching even more potential readers of your blog.

4. A quantity of quality is what wins with blog content. There’s a lot of competition in the blogging space so it’s important to produce high quality, relevant and sharable content on a regular basis. Provide something your readers can’t find elsewhere and do that consistently. At our marketing agency, we help companies plan and implement this kind of content marketing effort over 6 months to multiple years, but it’s entirely possible for companies to figure it out on their own.

The key to long term (2-10 years long), quality content is community engagement and a team effort. Any given person has a finite number of ideas and eventually, they’ll “run out”. So tapping into the collective wisdom of your community satisfies both content ideation objectives and engagement.

5. Optimize and Socialize. Blog content that is easy to find in search and that is shared by credible sources on the social web can grow your community in very meaningful ways. People that search are often looking for something specific and when your blog content “ranks” well for those phrases, it lends instant credibility that can manifest as a subscriber and even media coverage from other bloggers and journalists.

Don’t let keywords run your editorial plan, but don’t forget them either. Search is an incredibly powerful source for new readers, because your blog content is delivering answers at the moment of need.

Don’t be naive and think high quality content will share itself – at least enough to beat out the competition. Socialize your content. Promote the best stuff through paid amplification – social ads, PPC, influencer outreach, promotion to your own social networks and through repurposing. Also make sure it’s easy to socially share once you’ve attracted a reader. Social in, social out – make social discovery and sharing easy.

Keep in mind, community building is art and science as well as ongoing. What works for one community might not fly with another. Continuously engage and optimize your efforts for the best results.

How much emphasis are you putting on blog readership and community development? Are social networks pulling your attention away from the blog or do you see them as inter-connected?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.

Comments

  1. Great post Lee. At times I struggle with building a viable community on my corporate blog largely due to the fact that my audience is international and so diverse, it’s difficult to reign in anyone for a sustained period of time and actively engage them on a continual basis. With such a fragmented audience, what are some things I can do to coalesce the community? Thank you!

    • Thanks John. The way we address audience fragmentation is to create regular features for specific audiences. Maybe you could do a recurring type of post for each major segment on a monthly or bi-weekly basis? Once you get that going, try to co-create content with influencers and the community in that particular segment. That kind of engagement is a goldmine for new content ideas and growing the community even further.

  2. Thanks for the tips Lee. I agree with them all especially with #5.To optimize and socialize your content in social media is one the most important things to do to reach your audience.

  3. Henley Wing says:

    ” It’s not about you, it’s about them”.

    I love tips #2 and #3. Nobody really wants to hear how awesome you are they, they want to hear how you can make them awesome. Understanding the pains, fears and needs of your audience is a great way to resonate with them.

  4. Lee, i love your first points Facts tell, but stories sell. if we write story with facts, people will start reading it.

  5. Great advice, great post. Thanks Lee. The timelines in number 4 are what people simply aren’t prepared to hear, but it is crucial to think long-term.

  6. Hi Lee,

    While I agree with much of what you said, I still see newer blogs having issues getting engagement in the first year, even if they follow all your steps. Any other specific actions you would take for newer blogs?

    Thanks as always.

    Best,
    Jacob

  7. Thanks, @leeodden:disqus. I really appreciate your advice about writing from the consumer’s perspective rather than the company perspective. While we are trying to drive a particular response from the reader, it’s important to remember that we are writing to people and they often appreciate recognition.

  8. I agree with what you’ve listed about how to grow your blog community. It’s true that, when you are writing just focused. If the reader don’t want your blog, don’t feel sorry for yourself. Because there are lots of readers waiting to read your blogs. Just optimize and socialize it in order for them to find your works and start reading what you’ve made for them.

  9. Probably one of the best blog advice lists I’ve seen on the Internet. Period. No bullshit and clearly explained. Thank you!

  10. Agree about the stories part: people need something personal to remember about your blog.