Monday, June 7, 2010
Visitors are those that stop by your blog, skim through an article or two, and then leave – never to return. Boo. They’re of no use.
But dedicated readers regularly read your blog, spread your articles, leave high-quality comments, and buy your products. Yay! More of these, please.
Your mission is to convert your blog visitors into dedicated readers.
What good is 1,000 visitors a day if most of them don’t return? Traffic figures alone might make you feel good, but it doesn’t get you any desired results.
It’s all about quality over quantity. 100 dedicated readers beats out 1,000 passer-by visitors.
Here are 10 ways to convert your blog visitors into dedicated readers:
1. Be Yourself
This is slap-in-the-forehead common sense. But some bloggers try to be someone they’re not just because that type of personality is successful.
Just be yourself. Not only is it easy when you don’t have to force an unnatural persona, but you’ll have a 100% genuine and desirable voice.
On my blog Lifebeat, I’m completely myself. And it’s so easy not having to worry about projecting a certain image. I just write how I talk. Very relaxed and informal. I keep it simple and to-the-point. I inject jokes and music references. I constantly share personal examples. And since I’m a huge anime fan, all my articles have anime images rather than Flickr or iStock Photo ones.
Are you funny? Be funny. Serious? Be serious. Angry? Be angry.
Just be yourself.
2. Put the Reader Experience First
What makes you return to a restaurant? Chances are it’s not just the food but the experience.
Great articles alone aren’t enough. You also need a great reader experience. If you want visitors to convert into dedicated readers, you need a website people want to regularly return to.
That means don’t do anything on your blog that’ll compromise the reader experience. Translation: don’t annoy your visitors.
Common offenders: too many popups, ads, social bookmarking buttons, and subscribe links.
Just look at some of the most successful blogs: Daily Blog Tips, Problogger, Copyblogger and so on. No popups, and very light ads, social bookmarking buttons, and subscribe links.
I designed Lifebeat to put the reader experience first. Very clean, very simple, and the content is at the forefront. There’s no popups, no ads, no anything that would detract from enjoying reading one of my articles.
If someone really wants to subscribe or share your article on Twitter, they’ll do it. Don’t annoy and turn them away, losing what could’ve become a dedicated reader.
3. Focus on Benefits to the Reader, Not Your Features
If you want dedicated readers, your blog should focus on what the benefit is to the visitor. Not just your thoughts and ideas but value to a visitor.
Answer the “so what” question for new visitors: what’s in it for them? Why should they care?
Instead of putting the spotlight on what features my blog has, I focus on the benefit to visitors: helping you maximize your life. Ideas and strategies to help you do more of what you love and are passionate about. Not only do I state it in the About page and anywhere else, but that’s the focus I have for each article I write: how can I help and provide value to you, the reader.
Visitors care what you can do for them (benefits), not what thoughts and ideas you have (features). Focus on benefits, not features.
4. Write for Humans, Not Search Engines
Who reads your blog? People. So write for them.
Some bloggers make the mistake of writing articles solely based on highly-searched keywords. That results in nothing-new, unremarkable traffic bait. They might get search engine traffic, but very few visitors will be converted into readers.
The best search engine optimization is amazing content. Not website tweaks. Not a WordPress plugin. Not meta whozawhutsit. But amazing content.
If people like your articles, they’ll share it on social media, blogs, email, and even word of mouth. You’ll get higher-quality links, too, since it’s interested people linking to you. And, as Daniel here or Darren of Problogger and Brian of Copyblogger will tell you, high-quality backlinks are the ultimate SEO.
Now, optimizing for search engines can help with search traffic. And if you find a keyword phrase that happens to fit what you were going to write about anyway, go ahead and use it.
I don’t consider searched keywords when writing an article. Only once I have an idea down, I’d use the Google keywords tool to see if there’s a wording for the topic that people use most often. If not, I don’t worry about it at all. I never once let keywords dictate what I’ll write.
But put your message first – don’t compromise it. Make search engine considerations a distant second to writing what you have to say.
Write for people first, optimize for search engine traffic later.
5. Be Consistent
Choose a posting schedule and stick to it no matter what. Build a cache of articles or schedule your posts if needed.
I clearly state that I post a new article on Lifebeat every Monday and Thursday. I’ve stuck to that schedule ever since I started and haven’t missed a day yet.
Consistent readers need consistent updates to return to. Provide it for them.
They’ll know when to expect a new article, just like how people regularly check in to their favorite webcomics and news sites on certain days.
6. Make It Easy for Visitors to Subscribe
The more you have to work to get something, the less likely you’ll take the time to get it. Right? Don’t even try to deny it. That’s why iTunes is killing it in music sales: it couldn’t be easier to find and download a tune.
Be like iTunes on your blog. Make it clear and simple for visitors to be able to subscribe via email and RSS feed. Remove as many doors for your visitors as possible.
A visitor who subscribes is much more likely to convert into a dedicated reader. This is because your visitors can read your latest articles from the convenience of their email inbox or RSS feed reader. Your stuff is sent to them, so even after they forget about your blog they’ll still get your new articles, increasing the chance of them reading regularly (and maybe even sharing or buying your stuff).
Putting an RSS and mail icon in a sidebar isn’t enough. Make the subscribe option on your blog as non-cryptic and easy as possible.
Only a small percentage of your visitors will actually know what what an RSS or mail icon mean. Spell it out for the rest of your visitors, including why they should subscribe (it saves them time and energy because new content is delivered directly to them).
And people love free stuff, so don’t forget to mention that visitors can subscribe for free. Magazine subscriptions still have some thinking that subscribing to anything means paying.
I have a simple design on Lifebeat, so the subscribe buttons are in plain sight and clearly marked. I also explain in a short sentence what it means to subscribe and why a visitor should do it… and of course I mention that it’s free.
7. Be Remarkable
Be unique. Be great. Amplify yourself.
Don’t try to be the best in some field where you could never dominate. Instead, do what Seth Godin says: create your own category and dominate it. Analyze and figure out your unique traits, then crank them up to a 10.
People aren’t going to be interested in yet another productivity, personal finance, time management, self improvement, or whatever blog that says nothing new. Use #3 (Be Yourself) and amplify your unique traits.
I’m a writer, electronic musician, and adventurer who’s following his unconventional passion in life via non-conforming means. I never followed societal rules and found my own way. I also have child-like curiosity, not limiting myself to how I “should” act – an eternal kid in an adult’s world. I combine all of those traits and more into what I hope is an always-improving remarkable voice that can offer something interesting, something fresh, something game-changing and disruptive.
Would you return to a blog that bores you or doesn’t excite you? Of course not. So be interesting to read, and visitors will start converting into dedicated readers.
8. Talk With Your Visitors
It really is that simple: talk with your visitors. Reply to their comments and emails, send thank-you notes if they leave a comment or subscribe, or whatever else.
Use what works best for you (and doesn’t compromise your personal style – remember, be yourself). Email, comments, Twitter, whatever. But use at least one method of communication, so that visitors can form a relationship with you and feel like they’re reading from someone they know (or know that they can contact, at least).
I’ve never been comfortable on social networks and instant messenger, but blog comments and email have been natural for me. So I focus on posting and responding to comments and sending and replying to emails as my forms of communication with my visitors and readers. I also try to regularly send out thank-you emails.
People regularly return to something that they’ve formed a relationship or connection with. Think about it: you care way more about what your friends are doing than strangers.
9. Be Unconventional
Say something new that gets people thinking, motivated, and/or take action.
If you piss them off, that’s great too – there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and controversy gets visitors interested (just ask Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, or Steve Pavlina).
I’m constantly pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and become even less self-conscious by writing about unconventional topics (or at least an unconventional perspective on something). Heck, even I would get bored of my own writing if I played it safe.
If your article is no different from the latest blurbs that day, your visitors will treat it at such: a quick skim-through and then move on.
Get visitors thinking and talking and you increase the chance of them coming back for more (and maybe even bringing some friends along).
10. Have Fun
A blog isn’t a cubicle job, so just have fun.
People want to enjoy what they consume. If you have fun writing an article, chances are people will have fun reading it. And people tend to return and consume more of what’s fun and enjoyable.
I have so much fun writing and making music on Lifebeat it should be illegal. Like, I’ll be writing an article or creating a new tune or mix, and an alarm will sound. Woo woo woo! It’s the fun alarm: someone’s having way too much fun.
Have fun, and your blog will be fun – and visitors will start converting into dedicated readers.
Maximize Your Blog Visitors
Maximize your blog visitors by converting them into dedicated readers using these 10 ways.
Your blog to grow, your readership and subscriber numbers will increase, your content will be constantly spread, and you’ll make more money from more products sold. Now who doesn’t want all that?
Have these 10 ways helped you convert your blog visitors into dedicated readers? What other ways have worked for you?
Oleg Mokhov is a writer, musician, and adventurer who explores unconventional life-maximizing ideas and makes energizing electronic dance music at Lifebeat. You can read more about maximizing your own life in his Life Maximization Guide.