So you have started your blog, website or started writing articles for community websites like InfoBarrel and you are wondering: how to get more readers? Writing gives a fantastic feeling of sharing what you know but sharing it with whom? What is the point if noone is reading you? This article will give you some tips about how to get more readers.
Understanding Your Readers
To get more readers, you need to understand them. What do they want to read, what are they looking for, what are the stuff they generally read... You may think it is impossible as you can't read their mind and don't know their habits. Actually, the surprising thing is: you do!
There is one reader you know very well: yourself. Yes, you are a reader yourself and by analysing what you are reading, what you look for when you are reading, you will already understand better the readers in general.
So, What Is It People Read ?
This question is not about what topics people like to read about but what is it you essentially read, how did you get to this article, for example.
The main things people read are:
- The news
- Things they look for on Google and other search engines
- Forum posts
- Articles they find on facebook or other social media
- Blogs they are following
- Articles they are redirected to
Think about yourself. Isn't it true that you look a lot on google or other search engine to find information? Aren't you reading a lot of things that you found on facebook, twitter etc...?
So, now that we understand what people read, we are halfway to get more readers. The other half being: how to use this knowledge to turn it into more readers. So let's have a look at each of this point and see if we can turn "reading habits" into "more readers".
1. NewsCredit: Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Pessimists will think "No way to use this topic to get more readers. People are used to going to their favourite news channels such as CNN, BBC, Yahoo News, ... and there is no chance we will make them change their habits and go read the news on mypersonalnewsblog.blogspot.com..." and part of it is true.
The main sites people use for their news will probably not change unless you are really going to put a lot of effort in it (marketing wise etc...). But there is a little twist: you can still use what is happening in the news to get more readers.
For example, writing about freedom of speech or internet monitoring, etc... now that the Snowden case is in the media will bring you customers. Otherwise, writing about important events and celebrations can be quite smart (typically "back to school", "Halloween", "Christmas", ...).
As you can see, you don't need to become a reporter or try to get people to read the news on your website to get more readers. Simply time your articles carefully, write about things that are related to current events and you will get more readers.
Follow the News
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2. Things People Are Looking For (Search Engines)
This is probably the most important point. Why? Because this is not time or event specific (compared to the previous point) and it does not rely on heavy promotion towards your friends (see next point).
To get people to read your article when they use search engines comes down to 3 things:
- how many people look for the information you are providing (keywords)
- how strong the competition is: some markets are saturated. "Become rich" or "losing weight" for example.
- how well you can rank on search engines (better rank means more readers).
I will focus here on the third point. There are many tools to find keywords (Google Adwords for example) and checking your competition is fairly easy (search for the keywords on Google yourself).
Ranking well is of course related to the competition and in the ideal case where noone ever wrote about something people look for, you would naturally rank first. However, you generally have to deal with at least a bit of competition and ranking high will bring you more readers.
Improving search rank is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Rules are changing quite often but basically, you want search engines to understand precisely what your article is about. Using keywords in your title and introduction for example gives a clear indication that your article will be on this particular topic.
If you write an article about "how to fish in Ohio" but never again in your article do you mention either fishing or Ohio, search engines will have no ideas if your article really is about it or if this was just asymbolic title.Credit: Adragast
Image based on the Apple company logo and on an image courtesy of the New York apple Association
Another thing that can help you rank well is Latent Semantic Index. Imagine someone is looking for information about the Apple company (you know the one producing, iphone, ipad, mac, ...). Google needs to display articles dealing with the Apple company, not about someone eating an apple in his company or others. That's where Google (and other search engines) will use the context of the article to decide which articles to show.
Therefore, if you write an article about the Apple company, you'd better mention things like iphone, ipad, mac so that Google will know you are talking about the Apple company. (On the other hand, if you are writing about the fruit, you may use words such as "fruit" in your article).
More About SEO
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Forums are good places to get readers. If you wrote an article about the best places to play chess online, you may write a post about it on a chess forum. Not only, people from this forum may interact with this article (giving you feedback about the article, giving you more possible content for it), but you may also attract people who were simply browsing the forum.
The best is of course if you link to your article in a forum you are already participating in (not as a first poster) as it gives you more credibility. It can also be good to give some description of what you wrote. Compare this: "hi guys, click here, I promise, it is a nice link" and "The places I enjoy playing online are X, Y, Z, mainly because this, that and that. For more details, see here".
Be sure you article is relevant to the forum you are posting in. Don't post your article about boomerangs in a forum about computers. You will be flag as spam and even if you don't, very few people check your link.
4. Promoting on Facebook and Other Social Media
Facebook and other social media are great to share articles because you can reach a lot of people in a very short amount of time.
However, sharing your articles on social media is not as easy as it seems. Sharing everything you write all the time will make your friends less likely to read them. Sharing complex technical articles about the problem of the propeller in a submarine will not be successful unless your friends are engineers, etc...Credit: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What you want to share on social media are articles that are likely to go viral. Fun, short, mind-blowing, atypical, visual, etc... My biggest success in this field is this article: http://www.infobarrel.com/5_Things_Not_to_Say_to_a_Rubiks_Cube_Solver.
Getting Serious with Twitter
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5. Getting Followers
This is something you will only get by having high quality content. For example, at Infobarrel, VicDillinger is a successful writer. He does not use keywords or SEO. He simply writes about what he wants but puts so much effort into his articles and he has so nice writing skills that people follow him, read his articles, buy his e-book, ...
It is generally easier to get followers if you have a blog dedicated to something in particular than when you write articles about any possible topics.
Linking is an important way to get more readers. Linking to other ressources may get you some linkback, linking to your own articles will make your readers read more of your articles, ...
But linking is also something more complicated than it seems and for this I conducted a small experiment on you. Yes, you as a reader. As stated in the introduction, you are a reader yourself and analyzing yourself as a reader will help you understand other readers.
So in this article, I have put both good links and bad links. Which ones did you click on? Which ones were you at least tempted to click on?
I cannot say for sure (everyone is different) but on the whole, it is quite clear that very few people clicked on the links to my boomerang or chess articles. Why? Because they have nothing to do with this article. So why would anyone click on the link?
The other bad link is the one to my Rubik's cube article. The link is not even clickable! And it does not include an anchor text. It would have done much better if I had written: "My biggest success in this field is this article: 5 Things Not to Say to a Rubik's Cube Solver". You must think of your reader as a lazy person. Ask him to copy/pasting a link, and you already lose much of his interest. Ask him to scroll back to the top to click on the "like"/"thumb up" button and you won't get that many likes...
7. Bonus: More Readers at All Cost?
Sometimes, authors want to get readers so much that they make some mistakes. Paying for traffic, using images of sexy girls to lure people into clicking on links, etc...
Please remember that what you want is people to read your articles. Not just to look, see that they have been lured and surf away. Or come to your articles to get paid and surf away.
The difference? People who really read your articles may click on the "like" button, may share it with their friends, may link to it from a forum, etc... One of my blog entry was linked to by someone in a Finish forum. I would never have been able to reach for this market on my own as I don't even speak Finish.
To conclude, please remember that getting traffic takes time (or luck). Giving up too early is the best way to NEVER achieve it. Also, don't promote your blogs/articles too early. Wait until you have a "finished" product to show as keeping the promise: "a lot is coming soon" is not helping much. Patience is not readers best asset.
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