This guest post is by Alexander Heyne of Milk the pigeon.
You do a series of incredibly useful posts that get a great response, or you get some massive traffic spikes from guest posting, Stumbleupon, Youtube, or your content randomly going viral.
Your content teaches people something useful, it’s immediately applicable, and you get tons of comments and feedback, so you know it hit the spot…
Yet no one comes back.
Your next post goes into the black hole of the Internet, with little to no response.
There are three main reasons why people don’t come back to your site after they initially find their way to it, whether that’s via a guest post, Google, or social media:
1. Your readers are confused
Your blog lacks an underlying, coherent theme that is obvious to readers.
For example, you run a series of posts on exercises to fix back pain. It’s educational, useful, and best of all, it works. There’s a ton of quality information in the series, and it gets rave reviews.
But on your site, you also publish information on how to improve your golf swing, diet products and recommendations, weight lifting guides, and an online class on biofeedback.
What happens when a new person comes to your site? They arrive from a search engine or are referred from some other site, they read the piece of content they came for, and they look around and go “Uh, what is this place?” They don’t really understand what’s going on. Is this site about health? Is it about diet and fitness? Is it about alternative health?
They don’t really know why’d they’d come back, so they just go ahead and Google the next thing they’re searching for instead. Instead of digging around your site further, they go right back to Google.
Having a blog that contains random content, or posts without a coherent idea or reason behind them, may be useful content-wise but it won’t be a motivating reason to subscribe, since people can’t really tell what they’ll get in their inbox.
If your blog’s theme includes a variety of subjects and topics, you can unite them under one idea. Aside from knowing what to expect, readers will return because they know what problem your website solves.
Re-evaluate your unique selling proposition. Then make sure when you write a post, it relates somehow to your underlying theme, and that it obviously supports what your site is about as a whole.
2. Your story isn’t present or strong enough
I want you to think back to folk heroes of the old days: people who fought for a cause and whose names we still remember. Remember any? I’m thinking of Robin Hood, William Wallace, Joan of Ark, Davy Crockett, Che Guevara. Does anyone know the specifics of their lives? Not sure about you, but I don’t. All I remember is their message.
That’s what you want your audience to leave with once they’ve read your content: a feeling.
Even though your content may be good, and it may be useful, if people aren’t coming back, it may be because they just don’t feel anything when they visit your site. There’s likely no background story, no excitement, no purpose beyond just the usefulness of the information.
An example? You write about location independence. That’s great—you teach people how to build a business via the Internet or other means that doesn’t require them to be in one place. You may have readers, but perhaps they’re not people who really feel what you write about—people who really know what it feels like to hate their job day after day, who hate showing up to the cubicle environment, and who crave the autonomy of location-independent work.
If, on the other hand, you communicate your background story—former cubicle dweller that hated her life, and became a living-on-beaches business owner—suddenly, your content resonates with readers.
If you can communicate that position in every post you write, your readers will think, “Man, I really need to get out of here because it’s sucking the life out of me! My life feels pointless and is seriously lacking the adventure I want!” every time they go to your site. This way, you become like a folk hero, as people remember what they feel—the “why” behind your story—and stick around to hear more.
This is where the power of branding comes in, because a brand is an experience. Your blog can be a brand too. If you establish your “why” and your story strongly enough, people will get the same feeling every time they come.
Figure out the background story behind your blog. People relate to stories not only because they’re personable, but because there’s emotion behind the story that connects us as people. A story or brand is an experience—it makes people feel a certain way and is incredibly powerful for unifying your audience.
3. Your personality doesn’t come through.
Business is all about differentiating yourself, right? There’s so much competition (and millions of blogs)! You need to find a way to stand out.
Some people fail to realize that you can be your unique selling proposition. You are the spice in the recipe.
When I first started blogging, my writing was way too formal. It was just bland—there was no sense of conversation to it. As soon as I cut loose and starting writing like I talk in daily life, people started emailing me to say they love the way I write, and how my personality comes through.
Be personal—it’s a unique selling proposition in and of itself.
There’s another big reason you should let your personality shine, though. When people read 500 blogs about “how to blog” or “how to start an online business” how do they choose which one to read? They’ll often choose the one with character.
The person who can make them laugh while talking about blogging, the person who can make sewing sound sexy, or the person who is so neurotic about working out that they get you inspired to hit the gym.
Cut loose and let your personality show. Sometimes that’s all it takes to differentiate yourself, and have people flooding back to your site.
The secret ingredient
At the end of the day, establishing a repeat readership comes down to one simple thing: “hits” on your blog are people.
The second you acknowledge that people—not eyeballs—come to your site, and you adjust your strategy accordingly, engagement will steadily build and people will come back. Because beyond what you are giving people, the most important thing is how you make them feel—it trumps logic every time and will have them coming back for more.
Milk the pigeon is about killing that lost feeling, standing out in the crowd, and living a life of greatness. Download a free copy of Milk the Pigeon’s manifesto here: Killing Your Old life and Living the Dream.