Sunday, May 06, 2007

Building a Bigger Blog

A few of my friends have started blogs lately, and have asked advice on how to build an audience, what software to use, what hosting to buy, etc. Since I'm pretty much worthless for technical advice, I'll do what I can, and give a few suggestions on building an audience.

Be Interesting and On Point: All bloggers fail this test sometimes, but think about why anyone else in the world would want to read what you're writing - think about your audience. If you're trying to build a political audience, then don't write about gardening too often. If you're trying to build an audience of knitting enthusiasts, you shouldn't spend too much time writing about Roe v. Wade. This doesn't mean that you need to be unidimensional, and it doesn't mean that every post you put up needs to be aimed at building your audience. But, if you want more traffic, decide on your niche and work it.

Update often: If you want to attract regular readers, you have to give them something regularly. Once a week won't cut it. Most of the giants do multiple posts a day. Personally, I try to fit a post a day into my schedule, and I fail to meet even that goal. If people click over and see the same old stuff, they'll stop visiting.

Comment Elsewhere: List your website in your profile, and comment elsewhere. If you say something interesting and relevant in a comment on someone else's blog, that blogger and some of his/her readers will look at your profile to see who you are. If your site interests them, you'll end up in their bookmarks.

Include Others on Your Blogroll
: One of the keys to getting traffic is to wind up on a bunch of blogrolls. The best way to do that is to add others to your blogroll - you'll often get added to their's in an informal reciprocity. Don't expect instantaneous recognition, but I know that blogs that link to me are more likely to get added to my own blogroll than those that don't.

Don't Shy Away From Controversy: A long time ago, I posted something on gun control, and I still get hits from people who have stumbled upon it - it even wound up mentioned in Wikipedia. If it's attention you want, stick your nose into a controversial topic and watch the partisans flock to your site.

Promote Yourself: Earlier this week, a bunch of local bloggers got an email from the proprietess of Kansas City Daily Photo with a kind compliment and a request to be added to the blogroll. Clicking over, I see that she's been posting some cool photos, so she goes onto the blogroll. Why not?

Have Some Patience
: In 2004, this blog drew maybe 10 or 20 unique visitors a day. And that was fine with me - I was doing it mostly as an experiment and an outlet for my impulse to write. Now I average a thousand or so unique visits a day, and I appreciate the attention, but I'd happily trade half those visitors for 20 more thoughtful, regular commenters.

Does anyone else have any advice? Any thoughts about joining all those circles and groups that I see posted on other sites?



Blogger SmedRock said...

On the software side of it it would depend on what you want to do, and how deep is your technical knowledge. All blogs need customization of some sort, but how much you are able to control and customize your blog will depend on the platform you choose.

Answer that and you will then be able to figure out how much you want to spend (from free to the cost of the software plus maybe a hosting package and a possible domain name too).

I use Expression Engine and use the hosting service they offer. I had paid for my domain name 5 years in advance so it was cheap. My reasoning is I can customize it any way I like. If I need more than blog options, it is a module to install or make myself. The software I use is geared more for a content management system, but it is a matter of personal taste and expertise. Look around, check out a few freebies (blogger or Wordpress, etc...) and follow some of the advice the author of this post offered and you should be ok.

5/06/2007 11:17 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Smedrock offers some valuable technical expertise, but, please, make your profile visible!! Or at least include a link to your site in your comments . . .

5/07/2007 7:21 AM  
Blogger SmedRock said...

Oops, yah I use blogger accounts for testing when helping others get thier sites going. My site is at .

Sorry about that.

5/07/2007 8:20 AM  
Blogger les said...

So you want thoughtful and regular, eh? Regular, ok, keep up with the roughage; thoughtful, well, I guess I'll have to cut down my comments. You set a pretty high bar, Dan; but you're doin' it, so I'll give it a shot.

5/07/2007 9:40 AM  
Blogger SmedRock said...

Profile updated and visible now.

5/07/2007 10:48 AM  
Blogger Waldo Oiseau said...

You hit on some very easy and doable points when starting up a blog. I feel like I'm late to the game of blogging, but I guess it's all about when you find something that interests you, whether it's knitting, photography, politics, or more, you want to share that with others. Thanks for the informative post, Dan! - Cate

5/07/2007 10:48 AM  
Blogger Spyder said...

Actually I did some stuff to the hubbie's blog. He's been so busy with school & work. I added a blog roll. And he actually posted a comment on mine ( about sweet time!!) I dogged him about reading posts & not posting a comment. So maybe new people will find his blog.

5/07/2007 5:28 PM  
Blogger red101 said...

Post naked pictures of someone attractive and say they're of yourself.

5/08/2007 5:54 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Well, I posted a picture of Jim Glover . . .

5/08/2007 7:52 PM  
Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

Dan - I agree with all of your suggestions.

"a thousand or so unique visits a day"

WOW. I'm just starting to get 60-90 visits a day. Maybe a couple of hundred if I make a really good post. And I'm already starting to worry that I'm getting too many visitors and too much attention.

I have this pessimistic theory that if you attract too much attention to yourself, bad things start to happen.

I'm really a low-profile kinda guy.

5/08/2007 9:18 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I figure about 990 of them are just clicking over to see if I've followed Red101's advice . . .

5/09/2007 7:52 AM  

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