Blogging

Why Doesn’t Anyone Read My Blog?

writingblogs

So, you’ve set up a blog. You post consistently, your topics are relevant and helpful to your readers, and hey- you aren’t too bad at this whole writing thing. So why does it still feel like the only person reading is your mom?

It may be a matter of accessibility. People won’t look at your blog if they don’t know how to find it (or worse, if they don’t know it exists). You’ve already done the grunt-work, now it’s time to add a little hustle to the mix. Here are four places you can apply said hustle:

1) Can people find your blog within your website? If you’re blogging as part of a business or a larger website, is there clear navigation to the blog portion of the website? Many businesses will link their blog right from the main menu, but there’s more than one way to get from A to B (with websites, anyway). Take a look at your sidebar, it’s another important piece of navigation real estate. Could you put a Recent Posts section in there, like Stonyfield does below? Or, maybe it’s a matter of creating a button or image that directs people to your blog home page when they click on it.

Problogger has their blog as menu item 2, pretty hard to miss.

Problogger has their blog as menu item 2, pretty hard to miss.

Take a look at other pages on your website- are there ways you can link to your blog on these pages? I got to this article about Organic Farming on Stonyfield Farm’s website  by clicking a link in their About page.

Stonyfield_Blog

If you look closely, they’re using the sidebar for additional blog posts AND linking in the menu. Way to hit the trifecta, Stonyfield.

If you’re having a hard time critiquing your website, have a friend take a look. Adding an unbiased brain to the mix  can only help, after all! Giving people alternate routes and clear signage is a great starting point. Now, let’s forge beyond your own territory.

2) Are you sharing on Social Media? Sharing a link to a blog post, old or new, lets people know that your blog is active and ready for readers. It also guarantees more eyeballs are going to see it- Facebook has over 1 billion users, after all. This could be a status update on Facebook or a quick tweet on Twitter. If it’s industry-related content, share it on LinkedIn. Think about where your people hang out online- those should be your target places. Facebook may have a bigger audience, but if your particular audience is hanging out on Google+, don’t turn your back on them!

This step can be accomplished in a few different ways, depending on your preference. If you’re more comfortable with the simple write and post, and can’t be bothered to remember to share on Facebook (or wherever else), you can automatically post to social media once the post is published (that link is for Wordpress users- there are other ways to do it if you have a different kind of platform though!). That means less remembering for you, and more readers for your blog! However, if you aren’t keen on automation and/or don’t want to share every blog post, you can always manage it yourself.

You don’t necessarily have to be the only one sharing your content, either. Wouldn’t it be great if people could share your posts once they’re done reading? You may have noticed some places have social sharing icons at the bottom of articles. You can have that, too! After finishing your latest post, all readers have to do is click the little bird icon and presto! your article just got shared via Twitter, my friend.

Not only does The Hungry Runner Girl share updates on her Facebook Page, she has a link to the blog in the handy dandy sidebar.

Not only does The Hungry Runner Girl share updates on her Facebook Page, she has a link to the blog in the handy dandy sidebar.

3) How about email? Do you have a list of e-mails? Maybe you have an e-mail newsletter that goes out once a month. This is yet another opportunity to promote your blog. If your newsletter for the month focuses on car maintenance, and you have an old blog post that ranks different brands of windshield wipers, go ahead and link to it. Readers will ideally click on the link, read the blog, and it’ll be in the back of their mind. Depending on what type of software you’re using, you can also integrate a feed that pulls in links to recent blog posts within your newsletter, or create a separate email altogether. Using an RSS component within your email management system pulls your recent blog posts into an email, and automatically sends to subscribers weekly, monthly, or whatever period of time you choose. Again, depending on what software you use, is customizable, so you can play around with formatting (i.e. title and featured image, title and a blurb, title, blurb and featured image- whatever boats your float).

The benefit of RSS is it brings your blog to the people. Let’s face it, we can all be a bit lazy at times, and may not feel like checking a website X number of times just to see if there’s a new blog post. Other times, we just forget. Having your posts delivered once a week/month/whenever is like having the paperboy deliver to your front step as opposed to going out, starting the car, driving to the store, buying a paper, and coming back home. It’s easy for you to set up, and it’s easier for your audience to read.

4) Can search engines find you? Just to clarify, this is not to say you should bend over backwards for the whims of SEO, but there are a few things you can do to make your work SEO friendly. No matter what game-changing rules come down the pipe (like Google deciding to nix authorship), if you are consistently creating relevant, meaningful content, you’ll be just fine. The rest is just detail.

A few details that might help get your blog some attention: creating compelling headlines (somewhere in between chapter in a 1950s textbook and linkbait for easily distracted people), tagging keywords when applicable and relevant, and renaming your images (i.e. instead of IMG_05948.jpg, use spidermonkey_fights_mastadon.jpg). To reiterate, these changes are not going to move mountains for your blog, they’re simple things that can give you a little boost. For more on headlines, wording, and other content related issues, check out this article from ProBlogger.

Writing a blog shouldn’t feel like shouting into the void. If you have great content, share it with the world (or, at least, the internet) more effectively so that content you spent hours on will get more eyeballs on it!

Stay tuned, we’ll be launching a product for bloggers like in March that involves setting a lot of this up. Get on our email newsletter and you too will be the first to know when it’s launched. (You can also subscribe to our blog via email there. Boom.)

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Tech Thursday: What Keywords Should I Use?

Choose your words wisely. It’s a sentiment you’ve (probably) heard before, and it’s true. Although Shakespeare treated language as a malleable, search engines aren’t quite as flexible. But there are several (free) tools that can help you thoughtfully choose your words to get the people you want to your website. First, there’s Google Trends, which allows you to compare various keywords (such as cookies, Christmas cookies, holiday cookies), and determine what words people search for most often. The next two, Alexa.com and SEMrush, allow you to enter ANY URL and view the top 5-10 keywords that drive people to your website (hint: you can check out what words work for your competitors and make an action plan around that).

Make it easier for people to find your website and use their words!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Tech Thursday: How to Get More People to Read Your Blog

This week, we’re going to discuss a topic that is near and dear to us: blogging. We spend a lot of time reading blogs, and writing our own blog posts, and have encountered some interesting material out there.

If you spend any time at all writing blogs (or content for the internet in general), this video is for you!

After you’ve written your blog post, there are a few things to keep in mind that may affect the number of people who are going to read your blog (and ideally, keep reading it!)

As a bonus, we break out into song this time around (it was bound to happen eventually…).

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

What I’ve Learned Writing 1,000 Blog Posts

1000-blog-postThis, my friends, is the 1,000th blog post on Breaking Even.

Now you may argue that other people have written blogs on this site but I have also guest blogged (that’s to say posted on someone else’s blog with a link back to mine) and ghost blogged (that’s to say written blogs on other people’s blogs as them without credit) so I figure I’ve personally written at least 1,000 blog entries over the course of the last seven (!) years since I began my personal finance blog in 2007.

As you’ve imagined, I’ve learned a few things about blogging, mainly by doing and watching other people doing. In summary:

1) A blog post is any coherent idea, from start to finish, written online.

So I could write a two paragraph blog about treating people with kindness or I could write a detailed analysis about why health care is so expensive that covers over 25 written pages.

A blog post isn’t the length of something or what software it’s written in or how many people read it. It is the start and end of an idea, in online form. Don’t listen to anything else anyone tells you about it. If you are writing regularly online in a place where other people can see it, you’re a blogger.

As a rule, my blogs tend to be longer than people recommend them being, but I kind of don’t care. When you know the rules, it’s kind of fun to break them. Also that brings me to…

2) A blog post is your own voice.

I have no dillusions that I’m saying anything amazing. Other people have likely thought (and said) ideas that I am saying, on this blog and elsewhere I’ve written online.

But what makes a blog a blog is your perspective. If you want celebrity gossip, there are any number of places you can go online but you go to Perez Hilton because of his point of view (and maybe snicker at how he reworks photos in Microsoft Paint.) So I’ve never worried about saying something original or so amazing/ridiculous the paparazzi would stalk me outside my house. I just write what I want and don’t care if they like it. No one can fake my point of view.

3) A blog post should be written in such a way that strangers or friends can read it.

I have very good friends and complete strangers who read my blog entries. When I write, I assume that the person reading is reading this blog post and nothing else I’ve ever written. So I will mention ‘My dog Gidget’, I won’t just say ‘Gidget’, since that would lose the strangers.

By the same token, I don’t just blog about Gidget existing because that’s barely interesting to me. I instead blogged about what it was like to get her from an animal shelter, which took my hassle and made it into a (hopefully) useful article animals shelters or people who are considering adopting dogs from out of state shelters. It’s a post a stranger or a friend could read or get something out of, which is always my aim.

If you are Oprah or Gwyneth Paltrow, please ignore this. You can write about you, you, you. But the rest of us need some kind of topic, however general.

4) A blog only gets better with practice and most people are either afraid to practice or lose interest before they get good.

I kept all my old blog entries on this site for a reason. If you want a good laugh, go back and read how seriously I took myself in 2007 when I first started.

Blogging is about a progression. It takes time to find your voice, your style, your point of view. But you can only get that by producing and often. (More on this idea here about how I’m taking this same ‘It’s gonna suck but get way better’ attitude and applying it to videos.)

 5) A blog won’t make you rich unless you are very very lucky.

Most great bloggers I know (and I think even the now financially or otherwise successful ones) started blogging because they love to write. And most of the time, it took them years to get noticed. Yup, YEARS.

If you come at it with an unpure motive, people can sense it. You won’t be passionate and you won’t stick to it.

The most my blog ever made me was $15/month in ad spaces. Sure I was blogging daily and I could have written ‘sponsored posts’ endorsing products or stuck ads in more ridiculous places but point is, don’t do it for the money… because it’s not going to work out except occasionally make enough cash to buy you lunch. It’s like enrolling your kid in Little League and expecting they’ll make the pros: it’s sad and vaguely mean to put that kind of expectation on a person, even if that person is yourself.

I’m sure I’ll write 1,000 more blog posts (and likely more) in the course of my life… and if I printed them all out, it would be a couple small books! But I do hope I keep getting better and remember to keep loving it. Because that’s the best part.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Keepin’ it Fresh: How to Find Stuff to Talk About

Last weekend, I travelled to Brunswick for my brother’s graduation. It was a weekend filled with speeches, well-wishing, stress, and SO many feelings (mainly from the graduates and their parents). As a passive participant in the festivities, I found myself listening critically to the speeches given by the President, honorary speakers, and students. When you break all of those speeches down, they all had the same message. And, the same message as the speeches given at my own graduation, and probably the same message given to graduates across the country this spring, and all the springs to come. Whoa.

This provoked my own fear of sounding the same as other writers, and having nothing worthwhile to say. Being redundant, or even worse, unoriginal, is a creative mind’s worst fear. How do you ensure that your thoughts and ideas maintain a level of exciting and important?

Here are some ideas I’ve collected in my quest to answer this question:

1. Know your niche. You are an expert on something. Not everyone is going to have the same knowledge and expertise on this “something,” so you may want to consider it as a topic. Ideally, your area of expertise overlaps with an area you’re passionate about. When you know and love your subject, it’ll shine through in your work, and makes the information more valuable to your audience.

In addition to knowing your niche, knowing your audience helps with generating new ideas. This article mentions a couple ways to engage your people: answer the questions they have, and give them information they need (even if they don’t know they need it).

2. It’s not necessarily what you say, it’s how you say it. In terms of graduation speeches, the theme is usually something along the lines of “go forth and prosper.” But guess what? There are millions (billions? trillions? infinite??) ways to convey this message.

Everyone has a unique voice, whether they realize it or not. Find out what your voice is, and play into that. Mindy Kaling, for instance, recently gave a speech to Harvard Law graduates that was entertaining and engaging (plus she called them all “nerds”), but still had the same underlying graduation genre message.

3. It’s okay to recycle old stuff, if it’s still relevant. In this video from Marie Forleo, she addresses the content creation dilemma. She brings up an excellent example from O Magazine, showing the same headline on three covers from different years.  I’m pretty sure Oprah isn’t exactly lacking in terms of audience, so it’s probably safe to say people still like reading something they’ve heard before. The headline in question was along the lines of “cleaning your space,” which will remain relevant as long as people have spaces and spaces need cleaning.

So, go ahead and revisit older material. If your people can still benefit from it, you’re not being unoriginal or lame.

4. And, finally, stay inspired, but don’t be too hard on yourself. In my experience, creativity grows more elusive when you try to force it. Some days, you’re just not going to feel it, and that’s normal. If, while trying to generate new material, you find your teeth grinding, eyebrows furrowing, and/or blood pressure spiking, take a step (or several) back. Doing something else for awhile is usually recommended, and you’ll have a fresh mind when you come back to it.

Butterfly_Yo

When uninspired, I like to doodle ridiculous scenes in Microsoft Paint.

It also helps to remind yourself, I’m doing this because I love it. The things we love give us high blood pressure sometimes, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on them.

In the end, no one wants to feel like they’re beating a dead horse. The good news: the internet (and the world) changes constantly, and while sometimes this freaks me out, it means there will always be more to talk about.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Tech Thursday: How to Find New Blogs to Read

Having other blogs are great to read for many reasons (here’s a few: inspiration, education, and can be great resources to share on your business’s social media outlets). Need we say more?

You may wonder, But where are all these blogs? How do I find more blogs to read?? This video is dedicated to the search for new blogs.

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.
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