Inbound

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  • How to Increase Readership

    1. Provide something unique: There are so many blogs out there, even if you’re writing brilliantly, you won’t attract an audience if someone who’s already more widely-read is writing on the same subjects. First-hand accounts or data, original research, surveys, original ideas, original graphics or photos or artwork, all help establish your uniqueness.
    2. Provide something valuable: Give readers a high ‘return on their investment’ in reading your blog by (a) entertaining them, (b) teaching or helping them to do something (lessons learned etc.), (c) informing them about something they need to know about, (d) giving them a ‘take-away’ (checklist, great quote, useful tool, etc. — something that will cause them to immediately bookmark or blogroll or write about your site and revisit it often), (e) saving them time (distilling something down, analyzing it, researching it), or (f) providing deep insight about what something means (great graphics can help do this).
    3. Be first: The first person to write about a particular topic will probably get a large share of traffic about it. Even if a more popular blog picks up on it, they’re likely to link to you and send even more readers your way. First-hand accounts, on-the-spot photos, comments from people who were at the scene of breaking news all make fascinating reading. Even the first reviews and synopses of new movies and books usually attract a lot of attention.
    4. Do your research: Invest time to learn as much as possible about what you’re going to write about. Spend much more time reading and researching than you do writing. Check your facts. Learn to use search engines powerfully, so no time is wasted looking for just the right information. Don’t neglect primary research — stuff you get from offline sources like real people, in-depth television reports, people you can call or survey to get information that isn’t available on the Web. Always cite and if possible link to your sources. Dig for great finds, stuff that isn’t on the first page of the Google results, information that you need to go through multiple links to find, information embedded in the many databases that are online but aren’t Googled at all. And never lie or exaggerate.
    5. Learn to write very well: Master the art of story-telling. Learn to be brief without being too dense. Write in a conversational, accessible, friendly style. Eschew obscure and intimidating words, like ‘eschew’ (it means ‘avoid’ 😉 Ask people you trust to comment on your writing style. Use point form, examples, restatements for clarity. Be natural.

    Once you’ve got a world class ‘product’, here’s how to get people to look at it.

    1. Use other media to pull people to your blog: Don’t just write great stuff and wait to be discovered. Use e-mails (sparingly, selectively) to tell people you think might be interested in reading your blog about a particular article you’ve written. Make comments on others’ blogs and include your blog URL when you do. Join and participate in discussion groups, always leaving your blog URL at the end of every message. Use outgoing links on your blog and blogroll to articles and blogs written by people you’d like to have as readers: Chances are, they’ll note you when they look at their inbound links list and come over to see what you said about them. And when people write to you, always answer, always acknowledge that they took the time, and always include your URL in your response. But don’t feed the trolls (i.e. don’t reply to readers who write hurtful, malicious or baiting comments or e-mails) or you’ll have readers you don’t want.
    2. Write, at least sometimes, about ‘hot’ topics: You don’t have to be a Googleslut to occasionally get some special buzz on a topic everyone is talking about. Being very focused on narrow, deep topics will get you a faithful readership, but not a particularly large one. Writing about something popular from time to time, especially if you do so before everyone else is writing about it, and say something unique or insightful, will broaden your audience, and bring in what Malcolm Gladwell calls connectors, people who can bring their entire, large networks of potential new readers to see your blog.
    3. Make a great first impression: The average reader who links to your site looks at 1.5 pages and stays 90 seconds. Google hits command a small fraction of even that attention span. That’s how long you have to make an impression that will bring them back. A memorable look, a powerful theme, easy navigation, legibility, making sure your links work and that you’ve spell-checked, using clear headings, clever, attractive graphics, summarizing your long posts, making sure your page doesn’t take too long to load — all these things help create a great first impression, and give your blog what’s called ‘stickiness’. The longer they stay, the more they’ll remember and the more likely they’ll come back.
    4. Learn by studying who’s reading what, and what works: Track total popularity three ways : Average hits/day, Number of Inbound Blogs per Technorati Cosmos, and Number of people subscribed to your RSS feed. Write about certain subjects like blogging or business innovation, Will get a spike in hits. And you would also know about other subjects, like the environment, economics, and social networking, have different and loyal audiences.
    5. Get outside more: By using blog directories like EatonWeb or lists like Technorati’s Current Events (or just typing a topic of interest in Technorati’s search bar) you can find other bloggers interested in the same things you are, and connect with them. Or explore the blogrolls of blogs you like. When you find a ‘like mind’, link to them, e-mail them, comment on their weblog, or otherwise let them know you exist and where to find you. But don’t be pushy and overtly ask them to link to you — just let them know where you are, and they’ll come around.

    And finally: Be patient — Viral marketing is very effective but takes time to work. Stick with what you’re doing, especially if people are complimenting you — word will spread, and the audience will come. And be yourself. If you try to affect a style that isn’t ‘you’ it will come off as forced or dishonest.

    Source : Blogs.Salon.com

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