Here are a few tips that can improve the experience for readers as well as increase your followers. As a blogger, I always try to keep my audience in mind when posting. These are my personal experience and recommendations, no need to implement them but it might be good to consider if you haven’t already.
Visual appeal- The reality is first impressions matter. From your theme to your colors, photos, and font. Of course, with time, your blog style will evolve. In the beginning I’d focus on having a theme that you like that is visually appealing from a computer screen down to a phone screen. The great thing is, WordPress themes are optimized to fit the screen they’re viewed on. I have yet to purchase a theme. I look for themes that are minimal and clean because that’s a look that I appreciate in a blog. After that, select the colors available that best represent you. While you can dig into the psychology of colors, chances are if you don’t like it your audience won’t either. The last thing to keep in mind is the font. You want to make sure the style and size are easy to read. If you target older readers, be sure to use a larger font so their eyes don’t get tired as they read. As someone who has dyslexia, you won’t catch me on a site with a dark background and light text for very long. I’m used to seeing things the way I would on white paper and the opposite tends to give me headaches or just make it hard for me to read. So be sure to create your site in a way that you like and appeals to your audience!
Publish day/time| One thing to take into consideration is when to publish your post. Just because you couldn’t sleep and decided to write at 2 am doesn’t necessarily make that the best time to hit the publish button. Take a look at your stats page and see where the majority of your followers are from. Publish your posts during a time that makes for your given audience to ensure you get the most views. Are you writing to stay at home moms? They’ll probably read at night once their kids are in bed or around naptimes (generally mid-morning or after lunch).
The most useful stat can be found under the “Insights” tab. You’ll see a section titled “Most popular day and hour”. While this reveals your post popular posts based on days and times published, it’s not a good indicator of when your audience is online. I suggest you play around with days and times to see what works. Try posting at the same time for a month but maybe on Mondays the first week and Thursdays the second week to see which day performs better. Then try posting on the post popular day the following month but try different times. The only way you’ll know is by testing the waters with your audience! Once you’ve figured out the best time, schedule your post for that day and time for maximum exposure to your audience. You can read about scheduling a post here.
If you really want to make sure that your post gets the best chances of being read, publish it more than once a day. That way any readers that didn’t see it the first time around have the chance to see it since it won’t be so far down on their reader. Personally, I update it the moment I want the post to be published again so that it doesn’t sit in “scheduled posts” until the new publish time rolls around. Better to have some exposure than none at all. When I republish a post, I do so the same day, generally 8 to 12 hours after it went live. You can see how to do so in the schedule post link above. I only do this between midnight and 11:59 pm of the day the post was originally published. If you publish after midnight of the original post date, the link won’t work! That means those shares you got will be for naught and any posts linked to this one will be broken. The good thing is, you’ll receive a warning notice if changing the time of your post will impact the link.
Increase views| I’ve mentioned before that one of the best ways to increase views is to engage with other bloggers. Building an audience can be difficult in an online world with no shortage of blogs. One of the best ways to get views is to mingle! Read other blogs and like their posts, comment, even better reply to others that have already commented. Join the conversation. Bloggers will want to know about the person that commented on their post or responded to a comment they left on another post. They’ll click on your blog and browse through. It might result in a few extra views or it might lead to another follower! If you find a meet and greet or a link party, I encourage you to participate. I met a large number of my followers at such events. The takeaway here is to engage! The more you engage with others, the easier it is for them to find their way back to your blog!
Follow Button|Great! Now that you’re on your way to getting more people to your blog, help them easily find their way back! There’s nothing more frustrating than finding a blog you love and not finding a follow button! This is assuming you’re on the WordPress platform. Generally, the button will appear in the bottom right corner but I’ve found it’s not always the case so having this in my sidebar makes it that much easier for someone who wants to become a follower! There is a difference between this and the next tip which is to follow by email.
Follow Blog (also known as a subscription)| Not everyone who reads your blog is on WordPress or a blogger at all. You’ll want to add the “Follow Blog” widget. This will allow readers to subscribe via email to receive a notification whenever a post is published.
About you| Now you have ways of bloggers finding you and helping them follow you. What do they know about you when they read your blog? Are you willing to share something about yourself? You can either add an “About Me” page or add the “About.me Widget” to your sidebar. Here you can let your readers get to know the person behind the posts. You can include your name, picture, and any details you want to help readers get to know you better. If there’s one thing I know about blogging, it’s that it’s a very social platform with a sense of connection. Readers feel like they get to know you through your content so help them get to know you as a person! It’s ok to remain anonymous if that’s what you want, but I’ve found sharing at least your first name makes your blog feel more personable. You might want to share why you started blogging, what the purpose of your blog is, or why you choose to blog anonymously.
Spread the blog love| This is probably one of my favorite ways to network. There are various ways to do this. You can feature blogs or posts on your blog regularly or as you come across them. I have several members of this community who regularly feature posts they come across and blogs they love! Personally, it’s something I do on my feature called Follow Friday. This is a great way to support bloggers you love and send readers their way. The breadcrumbs lead back and you will likely get a couple of views. Another way is to reblog. When you find a post you particularly love, click that reblog button! I’ve come across bloggers who use this as a feature, they regularly reblog posts they love on a particular day each week. If you prefer, you can use social media to share links to blogs across the web that lead back to other blogs. Be sure to tag them so they know you’re paying it forward.
Guest Post| Has all of this meeting, greeting and engaging with bloggers led to some connections? You might want to consider guest posting. This works both ways, you can offer a blogger the opportunity to write a post to feature on your blog or you can ask to collaborate and write a post for their blog. Do what feels right for you but it’s just another option to consider! Personally, I don’t allow posts that have already been published elsewhere and request that guest bloggers share their post featured on my blog instead of publishing directly on their site to avoid any plagiarism confusions or violate any web hosting terms.
This is what I’ve done to grow my following to a community of nearly 4k readers in less than two years. My focus is on attracting those who enjoy my content and will comment and not just follow without ever reading again. If you want to go viral or be the most popular blogger, sorry I don’t have any tips to help with those intentions. However, these tips will help you lay the foundation for a blog that will generate a solid following. Remember growth happens over time not overnight. Increasing your readership means that you’re consistently sharing valuable content and going out of your way to engage with your audience and find new blogs.
I’m not an expert so if any information seems inaccurate, please feel free to gently let me know so I can make corrections. Can you think of any tips I missed? Which tip did you find most valuable? If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
Make sure to check out the first part of this series for definitions of any blog terms you might not be familiar with.