It has been a little more than a year since I launched this blog. I have learned some great lessons that I wanted to share.
Blogging takes time.
There are a lot of things out there competing for everyone’s limited time. To gain readers and get attention, you have to take the time to write relevant, enticing, thoughtful posts. Anything that doesn’t take time and thought to compose isn’t worth posting.
In addition to the writing, you need to dedicate time to monitoring your subject area and staying up on the latest information and what others are saying. You need to find places that make sense to connect your blog to and to connect to your blog.
Assume everything you post will be highly visible (and be prepared that it won’t be).
I never can predict which posts will get a lot of readers. I wrote a post criticizing the work of a lot of people I respect and was nervious about the fall out from the moment I published it. To date, there has been zero reaction.
On the other hand, my recent post on Millenials’ use of e-mail got a whole lot of attention. This was largely due to the fact that the post was featured at Social Media Today, an aggregate of subject matter bloggers.
Lacking any insight into why some posts get a lot more attention to others and not knowing when another site will pick up on one of my posts, I have decided to write every post as if it WILL get a lot of attention. This keeps me reaching for the highest standards with every post and hopefully earns me the respect of my readers.
There are no tricks.
Blog readership is the result of blog content. People read your posts if they cover information that is of interest to them. The way to build readers is through good content. There are no tricks to shortcut the process.
I’ll admit, I have tried. I made a reference to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton in one post just to see if that would generate some traffic. Nope. Another post referenced Carmen Electra – that one still gets good traffic, but it actually was a neat post about the use of social media tools to get attention to your message.
Use natural language.
The common searches that lead people to my blog all use common phrases: “the future of the Internet,” “content management,” “online survey questions,” etc. As a result, I try to make sure I use common language and phrases in my posts.
A great and somewhat funny example of this is the post: Usability Nightmare: Carlos O’Kelly’s Online Menu. This has consistently been a high-traffic post, with most of the traffic coming from when people search for “Carlos O’Kelly’s Menu.” My blog apparently gets a higher rank than the restaurant’s own website. I guess I should not be surprised that a site with such poor usability also has poor search engine optimization efforts, but this source of blog traffic is definitely unexpected.
Twitter increases visibility.
I am still scratching my head over twitter – what is it really good for? – but I can tell you that it is a great way to drive traffic to your blog. A few months ago, I set up twitterfeed, a tool that automatically tweets each time a blog post is published here. Since then, my overall blog traffic has increased as well as the number of people who follow me on twitter.
Generating conversation is hard.
Try as I might, few of my posts have garnered comments. My stats say that all my posts get read by a steady 50 or so visitors every day, but most choose to remain anonymous. I have ended several posts with an appeal to readers to share their thoughts, experiences, comments – anything! I have pretty much failed to generate any conversations around any of my posts. At least, no conversations that have happened here.
Learning never ends.
As I move into my second year blogging, I hope to capitalize on these lessons and look for ways to find more success. I will continue to look to my readers for guidance on what is interesting and what is not. The goals in my head are: increase readership, generate at least one conversation on the blog and to continue to learn about communication on line. Thanks to all who read this for being part of the experience.