12 Tips for Engaging your Readers and Growing your Blog

Setting up your blog, and updating it regularly are only the beginning. To have a really successful blog, you need to engage your readers in discussion and constantly attract new readers. Here are some (many!) tips for creating a great blog.
  1. Understand your audience: Know who you are trying to talk to and write your content to appeal to your audience both in terms of the topics you cover, and the tone you adopt. Ask questions or be appropriately controversial to engage their interest and promote discussion through your comments section.
  2. Listen and respond to your audience: The ability for your audience to talk back to you is one of the most powerful features of a blog. If your audience make suggestions or complains, make sure you listen to them and engage with them. Try to respond to your commentators quickly and frequently, and have conversations with them.
  3. Get content ideas from your audience: If you are running out of ideas, ask your audience what they are interested in. Set up a regular question answering post to share your organisation's expertise directly with your readers. This helps you post regularly, ensures your posts are of interest to your audience, and generates new content ideas.
  4. Build your readership: You need to be proactive about building your readership. Make sure that your blog details are included in your organisational communications. Let people know via your email subscription lists. You can even include a call to action in a blog post that can pull readers in, such as a link to a petition.
  5. Have an emergency plan: What do you do if someone misquotes you, writes a really hateful comment or otherwise sabotages your blog? You need to have a plan in place to deal with these unfortunately common situations. This will include a policy about transparency and removing comments. Don’t allow your blog to be ambushed.
  6. Be consistent: A study by Hubspot showed that consistent blogging actually leads to higher subscriber growth rates: Over a two-month span, businesses that published blog entries on a regular basis (more than once a week) added subscribers over twice as fast as those companies that added content once a month. Set up a blogging schedule to ensure regular updates to the blog.
  7. Be personal: Readers follow people, not websites. Imbue your posts with personality. If you have numerous contributors, let each person showcase their own style and interests. Don’t be afraid to express personal opinions, but be clear when these reflect the organisation’s opinion and when they reflect your own. It takes time to find your voice; don’t be afraid to experiment.
  8. Give it time: Don’t stop posting because you only have a couple of hundred readers in the first month. Building a blog following takes time and effort. Give it time to grow, and invest your time in building it.
  9. Be professional: You need to let your personality shine through in your blog but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be professional. From the quality of your posts, through to the way you engage with your commenters, you need to maintain a professional demeanor.
  10. Make your posts easily readable: Follow the tips for writing for the web to make your content more readable on screen. This includes short paragraphs, bullet points, etc.
  11. Optimise for search engine optimization (SEO): If you want people to find your blog posts via Google and other search engines, you need to make sure your blog is search engine friendly by including popular keywords, ensuring that content is regularly updated etc.
  12. Highlight Content:For example "New here? Start with these" Someone joining your blog a few months in might need a primer. Highlight some key posts that will give a newbie an introduction to you, your organization, and the topic that you are dealing with.