Yesterday, I talked a little about the ant mentality and how you can use it to grow your readership. The basis of the ant mentality is that people will follow the crowd, so you can tap into that to bring more traffic to your blog. Not only do you need to write great content, but you need to ensure that you aren’t deterring readers in any way, which would prevent them from recommending your blog. Return traffic is great, but recommendations is what will make your blog grow.
I talked a lot about how you need to entice the “scouts” to take the “food” back to the anthill. In other words, you have to entice someone who reads your post to take the link and promote it on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites. Best-case scenario: they take your post and write about it on their own blog. Something important that you need to keep in mind, though? Every reader is a scout, whether he’s a popular blogger or not.
Here at the BlogWorld Blog I blog about blogging. (Try saying that five times fast!) I would love for some of the big names in blogging to read what I write here and recommend it to their readers/followers/fans. I’m sure the head honchos here would like that too! The fact of the matter, though, is that every single reader is important, not just the VIPs. I’ve seen some bloggers fall into a habit of only rolling out the red carpet for bloggers that can send tons of traffic their way, but basically ignoring their other readers.
Hey. I’m one of those “other” readers. And I’m important too!
Maybe Blogger X is popular and will send you 10,000 readers if he/she recommends your blog. That’s great, but what about the 1,000 readers you already have that will each send 20 new readers your way? That’s actually even better – you’re at a net gain of 20,000 instead of 10,000.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other, of course. You can work to get your blog on the radar of the big names while still catering to your core readers. Every reader out there has the potential to bring more traffic your way, and sometimes building a slow but steady readership can lead to a blog that’s much more popular than an influx of traffic suddenly because you were recognized by Blogger X.
So how can you ensure that you’re not being a celebrity snob?
- Engage readers in conversation. You might not be able to reply to every comment on your blog, but don’t just reply to comments from the big names in your industry. Reply to comments that you honestly thing are helpful and give you something to say, regardless of the name behind the comment.
- Make an effort to find out where your readers are writing. If you have some members of your community that are outspoken (in a good way!), helpful, and engaging, visit their blogs and leave comments on posts that inspire you.
- Blog about interesting posts, even if the blogger isn’t well known. Someone who does this extremely well is Judy Helfand – she even has an entire blog devoted to replying to other people’s blogs, comments, tweets, etc., and it isn’t just about replying to comments from people who could send traffic her way. She replies when she has a story to tell, something to add to the conversation. When you link to others’ blogs, do so to add to the overall conversation, not because you think they’ll see the trackback and suddenly want to be your bff.
- Don’t be afraid to learn from your readers. As a blogger, you’re an “authority” on whatever subject you blog about, but that doesn’t mean your readers are on a level below you. Everyone has something to teach you if you have the time and patience to listen. Sometimes, commenters can be rude or even outright mean, but try to learn from every comment.
Every reader is super important to me, and even if I have millions following me someday, I still want every single one to be important. While there are certainly some people who can make a huge impact on your traffic, keep in mind that every recommendation is helpful to your blog.
Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. The “at the BlogWorld Blog she blogs about blogging” line makes her think of this one time in college when her roommate wrote a paper while drunk that included the sentence, “The dancers danced the dance.” She got an A. True story.