Blogging: The New Challenge Part 2
New Methods of Finding Readers
On Monday, we talked about the current reality of dwindling blogs and the loss of Google Reader. You can read about it in, "Blogging: The New Challenge Part 1." Today we're discussing how the current blog climate is forcing us to use new methods to find readers for our blog.
A few years ago finding readers for your blog was as easy as offering a few subscribing options in your sidebar, following other blogs, and sharing your posts on Twitter or Facebook.
Oh, how the times have changed!
As with all good things, there can be too much of a good thing. The blogosphere became flooded with aspiring authors. Many of them saturated Twitter with promotional links. Although I love sharing other blogs, I completely stopped sharing links on Twitter for several months. It felt like noise. Twitter shouldn't be about shouting, "Buy this! Read that!" at other people. It should be about having a conversation, saying, "hey, you guys might like this post, I sure did."
Also, at one point I had eight different folders in Google Reader and each folder contained 20-30 blogs in it! I couldn't keep up, and I didn't bother trying. Occasionally I would click on a blog from my Facebook feed, but mostly I relied on Google Reader.
My blog reading changed about nine months ago. I no longer went to Google Reader--seeing over 1000 unread posts every time I went intimidated me. Instead, I found myself reading blogs I noticed on Google+, Facebook, and, sometimes, Twitter. I also clicked through pictures on Pinterest that linked to an intriguing blog post.
I can't speak for other blog readers, but here are reasons I read a blog.
1. The author is a friend. I put high priority on my friends' blogs. It's one of the ways I feel connected to them.
2. The title grabbed me.
3. The blog post was right there in front of me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
4. It was recommended to me.
How do I find the blogs to read?
1. It's linked on one or all of the social media sites I frequent.
2. Someone I follow shared the blog, and the title interested me.
Since Google Reader was eliminated, I no longer subscribe to a reader (with the exception of Blogger). This means that almost every blog I read, I found through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or it's written by a friend.
Why is this information useful?
Many bloggers stopped feeding the link to their current blog post on Facebook and Twitter. But by doing this, they're losing me as a blog reader. I read 3-4 blogs every weekday, and I find most of them on social media sites. If your blog post isn't there, I'm not likely to read it.
Google+ confuses many writers, but it only takes a few seconds to share your blog post on the site. I read more blogs shared on Google+ than I expected to when I started using this service. Google+ does an amazing job with sharing. I can see the title, the first few sentences, and the photo for the post. The posts are easy to navigate.
Pinterest is another place to find readers. Edit a stockphoto or personal photo to include a "hook" to lead people back to your blog (see the photo above). If someone "pins" the photo, it's automatically linked back to the post. This is an easy way to tempt new readers.
Staying social online still has benefits. By taking the time to comment on active blogs, you increase your odds of connecting with the author, who in turn will be more likely to support your blog too. I made so many friends through blogging--I can't put enough emphasis on how this has added to my life.
As time passes, some of your blogging friends may seem to disappear. You might even find that the majority of your "core blog friends" have chosen to spend their time elsewhere. Be open to new blog friends. There are always up and comers out there. A few newer bloggers I enjoy are Lindsay Harrel, Jeanne Takenaka, Susan Tuttle, and the new Married...with Fiction (a group blog written by Jennifer Major, Becky Doughty, and Heather Day Gilbert).
Keep your eyes open to what other successful bloggers are doing to increase their traffic and find readers. Don't be afraid to try their techniques!
The other behind the scenes factor: SEO.
Another way to find a blog is by typing a topic in a search engine. If the search engine determines your blog is a match (through tags, keywords, labels--search engine optimization), your post will pop up in the results.
This is one reason I always recommend typing your author name into the "tag," "label," or "keyword" section. Every post you write will be related to your author name. Regular, frequent blog posts keeps your name and blog relevant with search engines.
When authors get published, they want readers to find their books. Readers might type the author name in a search engine (I do all the time). What does an author hope the reader finds? The author's website/blog, of course! From there, the reader should be able to easily navigate to find out about the author, what books she's written, links to buy the books, and a way to contact the author to tell her she's fabulous.
Type your author name in a few search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing...) and see if links show up leading a reader to you in one way or another. Ideally, you want your website/blog to show up as the number one result.
Blogging in 2013 is challenging. Authors have to get creative and keep an open mind about where a reader might find their blogs. Don't be shy about continuing (or starting) to feed your blog posts into Facebook, Twitter, Google+. You never know who might find your blog this way! And don't get discouraged. If you enjoy writing a blog, stay with it!
Do you have a blog? What challenges are you facing with it?
Thanks so much for stopping by!