If you’re reading this, you probably are a blogger. You probably want to be recognized and noticed, and love comments popping up on your blog like groundhogs. If two more people could follow your blog, it would make your day. You love search terms like “narwhals related to unicorns– be nice”. In short, you love publicity.
If all that is true, I’m rather surprised that you don’t know what I’m about to tell you: how to get more views, comments, and followers without buying fancy schmancy extras.
Really, it’s a no-brainer. First of all, write about interesting things– things interesting to you, most importantly. Don’t write about things that are popular, though that might seem to pay off quickly. If you write about things that don’t interest you and write about them badly, even though other people might be interested at first, they won’t stick around. Secondly, please use some grammar and good spelling. Reading sentences where i’s and sentence beginnings aren’t capitalized, typographical errors are scattered all through, and you can’t tell when a sentence ends, it’s well nigh impossible to like the writing. Third, last and possibly the least recognized, use your vocabulary correctly. Though journalists, newscasters and such reporters can often misuse lingo without losing half of their readers, it’s only because they’re backed by such prestigious press companies. You, my friends, aren’t. (Sorry to shatter your dreamworld.) Don’t obsess about it, but write in a way that’s readable. (This also includes cutting back on coarse jokes, swearing, inappropriate topics– make your blog family-friendly.)
Create interesting titles.
The first thing a blog-hopper sees is the title of your post. If the best post you’ve ever written is named “A Treatise on the Instigation and Continuation of Mass Stampedes of Rather Unintelligent Lemmings Over Highly Precipitous Outcroppings When Chocolate Cake is Involved”, no one will read it past the first glance. When a Google search brings up your blog, they’ll take a look at the title and, with the limitations Google result portrayals have, will not be able to understand the point of the post before glancing away. Make a pun, a joke, a clever or well-known turn of phrase. The Dickens-style “In Which” chapter headings don’t work for blog posts. Interesting at first glance; this must be your goal for post titles.
WordPress has things called tags that you can classify your posts with. I’m not sure what Blogger has, or what they’re called in regular internet lingo, but I’ll call them tags. What I did when I first got on WordPress was to look at their tag cloud. (I’m not sure if that link will work, but…) Wordpress takes the tags for all of the posts published in the last few days and puts them together so that other bloggers can find posts with topics they’d be interested in. I looked over that cloud and picked out the tags with the most posts– more posts means more people looking for and reading such posts, so I figured I’d do well to piggyback that popularity. Since then I’ve had a few common tags I usually use, such as Writing, Reading, Books, Humor, Literature, and Music. I’ve even used the Poetry tag once or twice, just because that’s big– not because I do it well. I also use other tags for finding things on the blog itself, but these tags have brought uncounted views to me. Is it cheating? No. It’s enterprising. I just checked that cloud again and found that Review is enormous: 25,565 recent posts, or somewhere around there. I’ll be latching onto that soon, I promise.
Commenting: let it happen.
Some people love being in control; so much so that they don’t let comments through without approving them first. This is great when you’re trying to keep certain things under control, such as book spoilers or whatever, but it cuts down on your popularity and comment count. Let people comment. Spam blockers these days are terrific– when someone comments with the username of “best hand cream”, using Ubbi-Dubbi to the exclusion of all else, it won’t get through. You don’t have to be your own Spam filter. You know what, if you’re worried about other things getting through your comments, such as swearing, insults to your writing, or those aforementioned book spoilers, there’s a nifty little tool on WordPress that automatically holds a comment for your approval if it contains certain words that you choose. Go to Dashboard>Settings>Discussion and scroll down until you see a large white box. Type into it the words you don’t want seen on your blog, and the Spam filter will do the rest. Trust me: when people have the freedom to press “post comment” and see it pop up there, neat and tidy, right under that masterpiece you call a blog post, they like it. They’ll comment more. When they see the comments from before them, they comment for and agree or disagree with other people. It’s called discussion; let people discuss.
Commenting: make it happen.
The other thing is replying to comments. People like conversations, and when someone says something it’s polite to say something back. Personally, I think the best conversations I’ve ever had have been with other people– I don’t know about you. Also, commenting on the blogs of other people lets them know that you exist, and if you can say something interesting, they’ll probably check out your blog. If you want someone to follow you, you have to follow and comment on their blog. One interesting, bold thing you can do if you’ve commented a lot on another blog but they haven’t commented on yours, just say that their trial period has expired. If they wish to receive more comments, they must return the favor on your blog. If you’re an interesting conversationalist, they will comment on your blog to keep your comments. You follow me and I’ll follow you. That’s the way it works.
Whatever you might think, “liking” someone’s post will not make them follow you. Neither will just following another person’s blog. I’ve got over 150 followers, and I know about twenty of them. I keep breaking records for “most likes in one day”, but I don’t look at who has liked those posts. When someone likes my posts, I don’t try to find their blog in return. “Liking” is just waving hello and leaving. Commenting is engaging in a conversation. If you “Like” a post or follow a blog, no one will know you’re there. If you comment, that’s a different story. I never “Like” posts. I enjoy a lot of posts, and if I do, I comment. If you can’t find anything to say, just say “Good post!” and leave it. Once someone knows you, yes, “liking” a post lets them know you read the post. If you don’t know the blogger and they don’t know you, “liking” their posts is useless. I’m a big fan of commenting, whether giving them or receiving them.
Awards and Contests.
Some people don’t like blog awards. They don’t want their blogs cluttered up by non-interesting, fluff posts. Well, awards are publicity. You get linked to, you link to people, you have an excuse to go tell people– order them, even, to comment on your posts to accept the awards. My top day for views was the day I posted an acceptance for an award, in which I gave it to 15 other people. That’s 15 more people commenting on your post than with a usual post. Compound that with one reply each from you, and possible replies from the bloggers themselves, and you have 30-45 comments, guaranteed. Awards are publicity.
Contests are also great. Create an incentive: a prize when the comment count gets to 500, 1000, your age, whatever. People start commenting more to boost their chances at winning a prize– often a guest post.
These are also publicity, whether the guest post is on your blog or that of someone else. If it’s on your blog, the guest poster will probably link to your blog so that their followers can read their masterpiece. If it’s on someone else’s blog, you get to steal the followers there for your own blog. Win-win situation, so always accept– or give– a guest post if you can.
A wide range of topics.
Google search terms are amazingly hilarious. When you see how people found your blog, you’d be surprised at what people have searched for to find your blog. Usually those things will be so strange that the word they searched for only turned up once on your blog– such as the phrase “fatal badminton accident”. I had one post on badminton, in which I used those three words scattered throughout the post. Somehow I managed to become first on the search result page. This only goes to show that if you want to be found everywhere by Google, you must say many strange things. If you mention armadillos, you now have the potential to be found by a search for armadillos. If you mention pink biplanes, yaks, crumpets or iPods with buttons, you might get views from those searches. You don’t have to write essays on each of these topics, you only have to mention them once or twice.
Well, my friends, I believe my leash has brought me to a halt; I’m already over 1.5 thousand words. In the interest of finishing before midnight, I shall finish now. I hope you can follow some of these tips, but if you can’t it’s no skin off my nose. Just send all the followers you don’t attract over here. Thanks!