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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Growing Your Blog

When I read a blog, I try to imagine what the blogger could have done to make me sign up and become a follower. If you keep track of stats outside of unique followers and have found that you are pulling in many visitors but have persistent low follower conversion numbers, we need to have a chat or just keep reading.
Let's say that you got lucky and had a visitor traffic spike caused by a temporary increase in search engine rankings or a link from a large site or you somehow landed on DIGG's or Delicious' main page or perhaps an "internet burp" where hundreds of blogs suddenly linked to you (we lost count after six million blogs.) All of these terrific events were probably due to a stellar blog post that you created and it took off into cyberspace. Take a bow.
So with all these first time visitors coming into your blog, how can you convert them into followers and "cement" the relationship? Let's start with:
Content is the undisputed king and writing quality content that can engage readers is the most effective method to convert these visitors into regular followers of your blog. It is also the hardest method to achieve. One tactical trick is to write a series of posts to convert visitors. In short, if a visitor / reader likes part one, they will return for part two and three. Just be sure that you are vocal in having visitors sign up to become followers and put that "plug" directly in your post.

Funky a.k.a. Unique
Roll out some of that George Clinton funk when first designing and then develop regular content that evokes the readers thought process. I am not condoning change to page layouts, wild swings in color templates or sudden departures from your blog's mission statement. This will actually drive visitors away and erode your follower base in rapid fashion.

Try implementing unique things on your blogs. This could include implementing widgets that centralize feeds to content from other blogs, heavy linking or Twitter or DIGG extensions that propel your blog into a visitor's media dashboard. Remember ... stay true to your mission statement and for those few precious minutes, your follower will extract useful information and perhaps even leave a comment.

Your tone of writing is paramount. People have a certain disdain for being "talked at" or even worse, talked down upon. The successful blogger simply needs to connect with his or hers audience ... nothing more and nothing less. Perhaps the most important part of this element is the fact that we are blogging in a Web 2.0 world. This means interaction and not static media. If you have comments from visitors, answer them and get your groundswell moving.

The Twilight Zone a.k.a. the Unexpected
Keep your audience on their toes by using a fresh and electric routine. This could be the graphics on each blog post. I have had a few people that like my visuals and attempt to make the connection with each specific blog post. Yes, there is a visual to text connection on this blog and secondly it's hard to decipher. Methods and ideas that create excitement along with strong relevant content will convert visitors into followers.

Lather, Wash and Repeat a.k.a. Functionality
Is your blog easy to use? Does your blog offer more than a few blog posts? Does your blog look like a vanilla ice cream cone? Are you expeditiously responsive to comments left on your blog? Out of the six million plus blogs, 90% are entirely too stoic. The Mount Rushmores of purpose, mindset, industry enhancement and expert opinion ... yawn. If your content is hard to read, it is very unlikely that visitors will return. Incorporate several widgets such as an RSS feed, twitter micro or email poke and make it easy for them. Making things usable and easier on the visitor will improve your conversion rate.

JD Holzgrefe

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