Do you want page views or readers?

Type “get more blog traffic” into Google and you’ll get about 70,000,000 results. The results read like snake oil peddlers trying to one-up each other at a state fair. “Increase Blog Traffic NOW!”, “25 Tactics Guaranteed to Increase Your Traffic”, and “How to Get 1 Million People to Read Your Blog In 1 Day”.*

Every result seems to have the answer. The one true answer to getting a ton of traffic to your blog. But what most of these articles tout are quick tricks to get views based on people searching for very specific things. Most of the time these searches, and as a result the views, are one-offs. They stay for a minute, skim through the article found on Google, and move on forgetting your site within a few minutes.

*Some example headlines may be sensationalized

Do you want page views or do you want readers?

As a blogger (or business owner with a blog) you have to ask yourself this question. It’s a very important distinction to make when talking about traffic to your blog.

Page views are great, but they’re a false indication of your blog’s success. You can spend $20 for targeted ads and spam social networks and forums. You can even pay to get more followers. It’s a great way to boost your self-esteem momentarily, but this strategy is not sustainable. You’ll be forced to continue paying for more views. Most traffic gained through this channel doesn’t amount to returned visits.

A better strategy is to think about increasing your readership. Don’t dehumanize the people behind the keyboard into stats and numbers. Don’t get hung up on things like page views. Use stats like page views to inform your direction and content, but don’t obsess over it.

This strategy takes a lot more time and more work in some cases, but it’s way more sustainable. People will subscribe and keep coming back to read your content. And you’ll find that as real readership increases, it will continue to grow organically.

I’m sure you read blogs and content online. As a reader, are you more likely to click through to a post shared directly by the creator of that content (someone you’ve never heard of), or from a friend or colleague with a trusted opinion of what you might like? Readers return because the content is interesting to them. If it’s interesting they’ll share it with like-minded people, who will be more likely to also keep coming back to your content.

I hear you saying, “But I don’t have any readership, how do I start?”

It’s all about content

The old adage “content is king” still remains true. The road to an active readership involves engaging content. Don’t force a topic you’re not passionate about just because you think it will be popular. People can see right through that and won’t be interested in returning.

I recently talked to a WordPress.com blogger during a usability test who blogs about trash, compost, and recycling. That’s definitely not something I would consider high on the list of topics to go viral, but it’s something she’s passionate about. She finds it all really interesting. And reading her blog I can tell she loves to write about it and it actually got me interested in what she was writing about. If you’re interested, go check out Garbage Girl Blog.

It’s certainly ok to tailor content to what you see performing well for other blogs in the same target demographic. That’s actually a good idea. Just make sure it’s within the content are you’re passionate about.

Share wherever you can

It’s the oldest trick in the book of content marketing. Sharing that content on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. There’s something to that strategy, but it helps to be smart about it. One thing to remember with this strategy is to not simply keep spamming your networks. That’s a great way to get ignored.

Share your content and use hashtags to get the attention of anyone interested in your topic. Then make sure you engage with your audience on these channels. Answer questions, share your advice, provide your expertise. Be yourself and don’t try to market your content at every opportunity.

Not everything has to be an opportunity to tell someone about your great new blog post. If you have a great conversation with someone, even if it’s not about your area of expertise, they will be more likely to click through to your profile and find your content on their own.

Try guest blogging

Guest blogging is a great way to get your name or brand out to people who have never seen your work before. Not only that, but it can also get you links back to your own content from more high-trafficked sites. So how do you get started guest blogging?

Find sites with a relevant audience. Since you’re writing about something you’re passionate about (right??) you probably already follow some of those sites and blogs. Do a bit of research into popular content on those sites to find out what might be a good post to pitch. Then start writing.

That’s right, write the post before you pitch it. You’ll be more likely to get a “yes” when you ask if you can guest post if you give them something to read, especially if they’ve never seen your work. If they say no, don’t get discouraged. You now have a post to put up on your own blog. As your status in your topic grows you’ll have an easier time getting that “yes”.

Be patient

Growing a relevant, engaging audience takes time. Lots of time. And hard work. Creating a real, lasting readership will take time, but having a few hundred consistent readers who get value out of your content every time is more rewarding than saying you got 1,000 page views on one blog post.

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