I follow a Twitter account that purports to give people advice about social media and how to use it to make your blog or web page get more visitors. They had a post this morning about making your blog post go viral. And I read the whole blog post. It told a lot about why making your blog post go viral is good for your blog or your business or whatever. But the one thing it didn’t tell you was what they promised on Twitter they would tell you: how to make your blog post go viral. You had to buy an ebook from them to get that info.
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! They missed the point of blogging there! A blog gives out interesting or useful information for free. It doesn’t just promote some ebook at the audience. And promising something in your blog post title— and in a Tweet or other social media about the blog post— just makes readers mad. Don’t promise what you aren’t willing to deliver!
To create a popular blog post, first think about your reason for having a blog. For novel writers, it is often to attract readers who might be moved to buy that writer’s books. But they aren’t going to buy because some stranger whose blog they just landed on shills his book at them! No one likes to be advertised at when they had anticipated reading a blog post that might be interesting.
Other bloggers blog to express their opinions about politics or about their religious or anti-religious faith. Or about which recent movies really suck. Or why Star Trek is better than Star Wars. Whatever. To create an interesting blog post, you have to think about what kind of people will be interested in what you are blogging about. And don’t say ‘everyone.’ No one attracts an audience of everyone, and to think what you write appeals to everyone might make it harder to the readers you have a real chance of catching.
Your blog headline must raise curiosity in your readers, and your blog post must fulfill those readers. If you write a blog post on the ten best ways to create story conflict, you have to give those ten best ways. All ten. For free. Because that’s what blogs do.
When you write a post, think about this: why are you qualified to write about that topic? If you have been writing and reading how-to-write books for years, you have a good background for writing posts about writing. If you just decided on becoming a writer a few days ago when this year’s NaNoWriMo began, you probably don’t have knowledge to share yet. Though you can share your experiences as a newbie writer.
Your blog headline must be well thought out. There are loads of things on the internet that will tell you how to write better headlines. But you can also tell by your own reading habits. What headlines have made you click on a link in social media and read a whole article or blog post? And you must also think— is this potential headline an accurate one, considering the content of the post as a whole?
These days a blog post must have a picture. It doesn’t even matter that much what the picture represents, so long as it doesn’t contain nudity or anything gory. When in doubt, I’ve used random pictures of one of my cats. It’s better than no picture at all.
I’ve seen some blogs— recipe blogs, often— that are filled with video ads, pop-up ads, and pictures and videos to the point that I, with my second-hand computer, can’t even stay on the page long enough to read the post. Maybe these bloggers are somehow making money from all the people who get onto their page and then immediately jump off. But I tend not to go back to blogs that threaten to crash my computer with loads of visual stuff. I’m a reading-oriented person— I can actually read a blog post, I don’t need a video. And no one needs multiple pop-up ads.
The popularity of your blog posts will depend on whether you can write well enough that you are not a pain to read. This means you need to possess the kind of skills that used to be taught in the schools— like correct spelling and English grammar. You also need to have a readable writing-voice. Mostly that means being yourself and avoiding bogging your work down with big words to show off how many big words you know. Read the work of some popular bloggers in your niche. They usually have a friendly, easy style, and they also may be able to organize their subject material in some logical fashion.
What about controversy? Sometimes the way to get online attention is to mention controversial issues. And I do that myself sometimes, so I don’t discourage that. But I believe that if you want your blog to be popular, you’ve got to be relatively civil in disputes. Others may get attention by calling Jane Fonda a traitor. Or, more commonly, calling her a f—king traitor b-tch. But a lot of folks out there don’t believe that kind of harshness is appropriate, especially against a woman. Better to say that Jane Fonda has been not that loyal to the United States. No name-calling needed.
The next step after writing and posting your blog post is to link to it on social media. Now, when people are on Twitter they are not constantly stopping to follow links and read blog posts or articles. But I have noticed that when I share on Twitter my blog posts get more reads and my blog gets more traffic. Since I am on WordPress . com, I can set my blog to post to Twitter automatically. I can also tweak the Twitter post by adding hashtags and such before I click ‘publish.’ But since Twitter is like an ever-flowing river, people that follow me on Twitter may not be on when the Twitter post goes up. So I use Buffer to plan some Tweets of my blog posts over the hours of the day. I have heard it is recommended to Tweet your blog post a couple of times on the day you publish, and then a few times over the next several days. Buffer makes doing that easier. I also Tweet some older blog posts from time to time.
Facebook, on the other hand, is not so friendly to the automated Tweets from WordPress or from Buffer. And Facebook has made Facebook pages— like a Facebook author page or a page for your blog— almost unusable if you lack money for constant Facebook ads. I do post on my Facebook sometimes— but it doesn’t seem to make any difference in my blog stats. I also use newer social media like Gab and MeWe, but I don’t have enough followers in either place yet to make much of a difference.
Here is the REAL secret for getting more blog readers— post good posts. More than once. And feel quite free to post more than once in a day if you have more than one thing to say. Just make sure it might be of interest to your reader base, not just another buy-my-books advertisement disguised as a blog post. You can MENTION your books, but please, don’t try to make your blog readers choke down a post that’s just an ad. Remember, your readers want to read what THEY are interested in. They need to get to know you and your blog, and even when they do, it’s better to be more subtle, less hard-sell, when you mention your books.
For most of us, building up a blog readership and/or an author brand will take time and work. We can’t create a viral blog post at will. In fact, in my experience, the most popular blog posts are never the ones I predicted would interest anyone! So keep on blogging. In time it will pay off.
I often use this space to share some of my social media accounts to get a new follower or two. But with this post, I want to know more about YOUR social media. Please drop a comment on what social media you use to promote your blog posts, and feel free to share a link to your social media account. I will certainly consider following you, and hope other readers do likewise.