So I’ve been asked by a number of people to write a post on how to build a blog and make it “successful”. I tell them that I’m not the best guy to ask, seeing as how this blog is only “semi-successful” traffic wise, at least. But to me, this blog has been extremely successful!
I have been told by several people over the past three years that my blog has really inspired them, challenged them, or encouraged them. I still get a little uncomfortable when I’m told this because of my own shortcomings in life. But if this blog has taught me anything, it is that no matter how short we fall from a “fruitful Christian life”, when God chooses to speak (or write) through you, it is powerful.
I’m always aware, however, that with any size “following” or “platform” in which one speaks of Christ, there is a great responsibility. That responsibility is to always be careful that we leave many of our political, personal, and ideological opinions at the door. It is also a call to speak and write with great care, being sure not to tear any man or woman apart. We must be gentle, no matter how passionate we may be about any given topic.
We must remember that it is Christ who is speaking through us, not us speaking through Christ. This takes years to fully embrace, and I am certainly in the beginning stages of that journey.
HOWEVER, I am not simply talking to the Christian blog writers, but writers of all kinds. Whether it be poetry, sewing, rafting, outdoors, organic food, a rant blog, or simple a journal-style approach, I believe that all bloggers can somehow benefit from this post. So don’t feel excluded :).
Okay, so enough of the buzz killing and on to the good stuff–how to create a semi-successful blog.
1. Patience, Patience, Patience!
All of us writers have a deep passion to get our messages across to as many people as possible, as fast as possible. This may seem a bit egocentric, but in reality what else is writing for other than to communicate a point to an audience; whether it is just one individual in an email, or in a best-selling book to millions.
But creating that audience takes a lot of work, care, passion, and time…and more time. Then, after you’ve diligently waited, even more time! It has taken me three years of constant writing (this post makes my 100th thus far) just to get 145 email subscribers and a couple hundred followers on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. I know it may seem like a lot of people, but in the internet world, that’s a very small number for such a long time.
The point is to keep working, writing, and marketing no matter how well or bad you may think you are doing. Keep at it, especially when you feel like you’re only writing to yourself–someone out there is reading.
2. ONLY Post on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
I have found that I get very little traffic Friday-Monday. It doesn’t hurt to post on these days, but don’t expect much interaction or numbers. I like to use these days to maybe write funny stuff or promote another blog or writer. So, it’s not bad to post on these days, but it’s better to post Tuesday through Thursday.
The reasoning behind this, at least theoretically, is that on Fridays everyone is getting ready for the weekend. At work everyone is just counting the hours and trying to wrap things up for the week. So many are unlikely to do more than post a status on Facebook. They are not wanting to spend any amount of time reading an article. Same with the weekend, and Monday most are busy at work and don’t have time to read a blog post. This is just my experience, however.
3. Never Post Late at Night on ANY Day
If you’re going to write something during the day or at night-time, then wait until the first thing in the morning to make it live. With WordPress (which I highly recommend over any other blogging platforms) I am able to schedule it for bright and early, somewhere between 5:30 am – 7:30 am. This gives those who subscribe via email a chance to read it before work. Most people also check their Facebook/Twitter pages before they leave. With WordPress I can have it automatically share on my Twitter and Facebook pages. I also use NetworkedBlogs.com for this too. They also post to Twitter automatically.
So, if you don’t have the feature to automatically share, and you’re not going to be up very early, then choose a day (Tues-Thurs) when you will be up. Share it then.
It is okay, though, to post something around 10:30 AM, Tues-Thurs. This is the latest that I will typically make a post live.
4. Joins Lots of Facebook Groups
There are a number of Facebook groups and pages that share your passion. A simple search on Facebook can bring you into contact with hundreds, or even thousands of other people who enjoy the same things you do. Most of them aren’t writers, but you are! See what people are speaking of in these groups and target that audience. Use those groups as a traffic generator by posting all of your latest posts on the page.
You’d be surprised how grateful people will be from good, informative posts.
5. Choose Your ‘Shares’ and Tweets Carefully
This isn’t an exact science, however I’ve found that this method works well for me. I will post on my own Facebook wall and Twitter account at around noon or so the first time (granted you have already shared early morning, automatically or manually).
Then, I like to post sometime around 3:00 PM if I can. Studies have shown that a lot of people like to kill time in the afternoons at work. But, if it will be later than around 4:30 or 5:00 PM, then wait until the next time fragment.
I’ve noticed that most of my friends are on Facebook around 7:30 PM or so. Pay attention to the number of people on the “chat” bar. This is a great indicator of who’s online.
Also, you can post around 11:00 PM or so and get a few late nighters in the U.S. along with some early morning or mid-afternoon folks in other countries like Australia and the UK. You will eventually be getting traffic from all over the world from countries like South Africa, India, Canada, and many others. You can’t really cater to their time frames, so I stick with U.S. time zones.
6. Encourage Your Readers to Share Your Posts on Various Social Networks
This is the tough part. It seems that no matter how much some people like the article, they simply won’t share it with others. I have no idea why. They also won’t comment much, then out of nowhere one day they’ll find you on Facebook or something and talk about how much they read and love your blog…yet you would never know. These are the so-called ‘Trolls’, and now days, they make up a large part of the internet. So, don’t always take lack or shares or comments as a bad sign.
Don’t be afraid to ask some friends or people you know to help promote your blog. Remember, people are more likely to help you if you help them. Whether you believe this is right or not doesn’t matter, it’s just human nature. So get out of your own bubble and share other people’s blog posts on your blog or social networking sites. I am always extremely flattered when someone does this for me, which encourages me to share their stuff too. It’s sort-of like internet currency, be generous!
Never think that you are being to “self-promoting” unless your conscience just can’t stand it. If you believe in what you write, then share your heart out! But always be careful not to share too much, it can be quite intrusive.
7. Be Mindful of When Others are Posting
This is a two-way street because if you and another person are sharing a post on the same day with the same fervor, both of you will suffer traffic wise. Now, some of the internet giants out there are hard to avoid. But feel free to ask your blogger friends when they will be posting a new article. This way you and he/she have an equal opportunity (unless you are fierce competitors, but I wouldn’t recommend competition if you are a Christian blogger).
This is also just good practice. Everyone loves a mindful blogger :)
8. Write, Write, Write!
Always act as though you are writing to a large audience. No matter how little traffic you may get, write each post as though it is the most important post thus far. This helps prevent discouragement which always leads to less writing, less writing leads to less readers. So keep on keeping on.
However, I wouldn’t recommend posting more than twice per week. I have noticed that if I post more than that, the readers become less interested and will quit reading. I also get annoyed when I see yet another new post come through my email from the same blog every day. Some say otherwise, but this is just my experience.
I don’t recommend writing more than once, maybe twice per week. I’ve seen it where I was posting too much and people got overloaded and quit reading. But try to post, at minimum, twice per month. But once a week is better.
9. Comment on Other Blogs
Probably one of the easiest way to get traffic is to post lots of comments on other blogs, but be sure to insert your website into the comment section. Make your comments short but informative. This also encourages others to comment on your posts.
9 1/2. One Last Thing…
When you get to a certain point in blog traffic and followers, keep an open mind to creating a Facebook page for your blog. It not only helps with keeping your blog visible to your friends and your friend’s friends, but it’s an avenue to share short remarks, quotes, or even humor.
If you do decide to do this, don’t just post your latest blog posts there. Try to share on that page 3-4 times per week. Be sure you are offering something to your fans (information, humor, tips, etc.).
Well, I hope that helps. Please take a moment to vote for the best time to write.