If you’re a blogger, you know how frustrating it is when your subscriber numbers stagnate.
As a newbie blogger, I started my blog Goodlife ZEN with only two subscribers: my son and my best friend. After two months of blogging … I still only had two subscribers. So in desperation, I subscribed my cat Sweetie.
Great! Now I had three subscribers. OK – one of them preferred snoozing to reading my stuff…
It took another six months for my subscriber count to stutter its way up to 100.
The slow start was a blessing because I was still finding my way as a blogger, and my blog at that time was ugly, cluttered, and preachy … ugh.
Today, Goodlife ZEN’s subscriber count is nudging 20,000.
Here’s a take-home nugget for perfectionists:
You can make a lot of mistakes – and your blog will still grow in the long run.
If you want to skyrocket your subscriber count, you need to make sure your blog is well prepared. In fact, there are five foundations of blog growth that you need to consider in order to get your blog to grow: uniqueness, design, usablility, content, and benefit. All the five foundations have a single focus: to make a visit to your blog an enjoyable experience.
If visitors don’t enjoy the experience of visiting your blog, they leave immediately.
The key point is: getting traffic to your blog isn’t enough.
Preparing your blog for visitors is crucial. Let me tell you Ben’s story to illustrate this fact.
Ben moved into a new neighborhood. It’s a bit posh.
He wanted to meet his new neighbors. So Ben decided to throw a party. He sent out invitations, cooled some beers and prepared cocktails.
When the time came, Ben could see his guests arriving. But instead of coming right over, they just stood and stared. Because there was a problem …
To find out what the problem was, click on the small image below.
Yes, Ben wasn’t quite ready to receive visitors …
As a blogger, there are five foundations of blog growth you need to take into account in order to create a great environment that turns traffic into subscribers.
According to Invesp.com, Technorati’s research shows that at July 2011 there were 164 million blogs online. (If you want to know what that means for bloggers, read Mike Stelzner’s excellent article, 7 Reasons to Rethink Your Blogging Strategy: New Research.)
Infographic by Invesp.com
In order to become visible among the sea of blogs, your blog has to be unique – and not just a ‘me too’ website. The key is to define what is unique about your blog, and then to focus on this uniqueness in every aspect of your blog.
Remember: you are unique. You blog is unique too. Finding and defining the uniqueness of your blog is a process that you can learn.
First impressions count.
Does the blog look professional, or is it amateurish, or does it look like it’s just trying to sell a product or promote a person?
There is no one design format that will get you subscribers, but there is an important point: the design has to be a good fit for the content, as well as being a good fit for your target audience.
For example, young guys looking for a tech blog will respond to a different design than middle-aged readers visiting a self-development blog. The key role of your design is to underscore what is unique about blog.
Usability is about keeping visitors on a blog and to make them take a preferred action. If your preferred action is to get readers to subscribe, then it needs to be obvious and easy how to subscribe.
If you want readers to read more, you need to showcase your top posts in order to lead them deeper into your content.
Most of all, good usability makes it easy to find out at a glance what the focus of a blog is and who the blogger is.
A blog needs a well-crafted About page, that shows that the blogger has some kind of authority, either by experience, accomplishments, publications, or general knowledge of the blog topic.
Ultimately, a blog will only thrive if it has useful or entertaining content.
Useful content means that the content must be created for the reader, and not for the blogger. Here is an example:
A new student of mine recently wanted to know why he wasn’t getting many comments on his blog posts. I pointed out to him that he had used the words “I”, “me”, “my”, and “mine” 28 times in the first 3 paragraphs of his most recent blog post!
If a blogger is focused on his or her own experience, and doesn’t consider how the experience could inspire, inform, or entertain his readers, a blog will languish.
But good content isn’t enough.
A blog post needs to be scannable. This means that the content should be clear at first glance. Short paragraphs, subheadings, quotes, and bullet points make good content accessible.
To top it all, an attractive blog post needs a carefully crafted headline.
A blog just out of the egg needs different growth strategies than a blog that’s already well established. The most difficult stage of growth is from zero to 100 subscribers. Here are some starter strategies that help to create visibility:
Once the five foundations of blog growth are in place, it’s time to ratchet up efforts and employ different strategies.
There are a few strategies that make your subscriber count go through the roof. They need careful planning and execution. You can create a ‘rocket strategies’ through combining two or more of the advanced blog growth strategies. For example, Scott Dinsmore combined re-launching his blog and launching a product. You can also combine creating a subscriber gift with creating an event.
In December 2011 and January 2012, the subscriber count of Write to Done grew from 23,700 to 31,800. That is, over five weeks, the subscriber count of WTD grew by 33%.
The strategy I devised was to combine three advanced strategies: subscription gift, product launch, and event.
I created a quality gift for subscribers, The ‘Nearly’ Ultimate Guide to Better Writing (which you can download immediately by filling in the form in the sidebar). I then timed the book launch at the same time as running an event, the Top 10 Blogs for Writers contest. It worked
As you can see, there are many strategies to grow a blog. You need to know exactly how to use each strategy in order to get best results. And none of strategies work if you don’t know how to prepare you blog for new readers.
It takes study and effort to grow your blog. But the rewards are huge. It’s a great feeling when you create your own tribe that loves hanging out on your blog.
If you want to skyrocket your subscriber count, join the upcoming virtual bootcamp at A-list Blogging Bootcamps, called Blog Growth Mastery. Click on the image below to find out more:
About the author:
Mary Jaksch is Editor-in-Chief at Write to Done. Grab her FREE report How to Write Like an A-List Blogger. Mary has helped thousands of students successfully create outstanding and profitable blogs at A-List Blogging and is the blogger behind Goodlife ZEN.
Do you want to become a better writer? This FREE ebook will show you how.
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