If you think of your readers as traffic, you are cold-hearted, flinty-eyed and likely count your money secretly when no one is looking. They – we – are people, readers. Behave accordingly and you will see the results.
All those articles on moving cattle, sorry traffic, to your blog provide innumerable suggestions. I’m going to ignore them all – with the exception of Seth Godin’s memorable list here of 56 tips, which you should click on immediately.
Instead I want to offer my 3 biggest pieces of personal advice.
1. Write about interesting shit and do it in a memorable way. I tend to read blogs that deviate from the commonly held opinion. I am interested in getting to know the writer, not just get second-hand regurgitation of some blog he or she read. I avoid the ones that look for controversy for the sake of it. Or who disrespect their readers in the pursuit of virality.
2. Be a good host. As the author of a blog, you are out to enhance your reputation, not be right at all costs. So engage in interesting debate and be prepared to cede the point. It’s your blog, so you’re the host. Be gracious. I note a blog where the writer is lazy about responding to comments from people who agree with him but is like an angry wasp when someone doesn’t agree. Usually the rebuttle goes up within 60 seconds of the contradictory point of view. I don’t want to hang out with people like that. If you want people to see you as a thought leader, you should be as confident in what you believe in, as you are patient with people who don’t agree.
3. Do the time. If you’re already providing great content and being a good host, plus using blogging best practices in terms of building your readership (RSS feeds, tagging, networking, guest blogging and commenting etc.) the final thing you need to do is stick it out. Unless you’re Seth Godin, solid readership takes time. Not much fun if you don’t love writing the things!
Closing with something Jay Baer said about social media which applies beautifully to blogging: If you don’t like doing it, you suck at it.