This blog post is based on episode 35 of the ProBlogger podcast.
With so many websites out there all competing for people’s attention, you need to try to grab people’s attention quickly and keep it for as long as possible.
But how exactly do you do that? Well, here are 15 ways to keep readers on your blog that you might want to try.
1. Give people ways to subscribe, follow, or connect
You might think this is pretty obvious. But it’s amazing how many people haven’t really thought this one through.
First, you need to work which option will work best for you. Personally, I find email works best. Social networks can also be good, but they don’t always give you full control over how you communicate with your readers. For instance, Facebook filters your updates so you can’t guarantee that everyone will see them. But with email you can generally get through to everyone and you have far more control over what you send.
What you decide on is ultimately up to you. And you may decide to choose more than one. But if you do, I strongly suggest making one of them your primary focus and getting everyone to use it to subscribe. Having one clear call to action will be less overwhelming and less confusing to people.
And don’t be afraid to bring up that call to action in various ways on your blog. It could be a popup, a slider at the bottom of the page, or as part of your menu or sidebar. We even have one at the bottom of each blog post. Try doing it in various ways on your blog (yes, you can use more than one at a time) and see what works best.
2. Ask people to subscribe in your content
You may also find a great opportunity to ask people to subscribe when you’re writing your content. If you’re writing a blog post about how people can get more followers on the latest social network to hit the internet, it would be a perfect opportunity to ask them to follow you.
3. Make a good first impression
These days you have only a few seconds to convince people that your blog is relevant to them. So you need to make it clear what your blog is about the moment they arrive. And you need to do it quickly.
If you don’t, then chances are they won’t even stick around, let alone subscribe.
So how can you quickly provide this information? You can do it with elements such as your blog’s title, tagline, categories, navigation and design.
Speaking of design…
4. Make your blog look as inviting as possible
The first thing people will notice about your blog is its design. As soon as they arrive they will make a snap judgment about whether it’s professional, whether it’s relevant, and whether it’s on-brand for them.
So you need to design your blog to make it as clear, clean and inviting as possible.
You also need to consider the way you lay out your actual posts. If they’re not attractive, or too hard to read, your readers may leave just as quickly as they arrived.
Using images in your blog posts can really be the difference between your post being read or not. And try to make your posts scannable by using headlines, shorter paragraphs, formatting (bolding, italicizing) and lists. Even the headlines of your blog posts and how accessible they are can make a difference.
And don’t forget to check how everything looks on mobile devices. How does your blog look on your phone? Is it beautiful and engaging? Or is it crowded, confusing, and hard to use?
5. Build anticipation
For those of you who have subscribed to someone’s blog or started following it on social media, can you remember why you did? My guess is you believed they’d be delivering content down the track that would make your life better in some way.
In other words, they created a sense of anticipation with their blog.
And you can create a similar sense of anticipation on yours.
One way to build anticipation is to write a series of posts on a particular topic. When people know more posts are coming on a topic they’re interested in, there’s a good chance they’ll subscribe to avoid the risk of missing out on it.
Another way is to have a regular type of post that comes up in your blog. For example, every Friday on Digital Photography School we ask our readers to take a photo on a particular theme and then share it. And some of our readers have subscribed solely to read and contribute to those Friday posts.
Perhaps you could publish an opinion post for your blog every Tuesday, or review a product every Wednesday. Whatever you decide, let your readers know it’s happening and that it will keep happening.
6. Link your posts
Another way to keep people on your blog and make them want to subscribe is to interlink your posts. Linking to other post you’ve written is a great way to keep people reading your content. And the more great content they see, the more likely they’ll subscribe.
If you mention a topic in your post that’s not exactly related but could still be in teresting to someone, link back to any old posts you’ve written on that topic. A great place to do this is in a ‘Further readings’ section at the end of the post
There are tools and plugins that can do this for you automatically by pulling in other posts in your categories or your most popular posts. But you can also curate these lists yourself.
7. Create a ‘sneeze’ page
If you’ve been blogging for longer than a few months, then chances are you have a lot of posts sitting in your archives. And while they may all still contain great information, they won’t be easy to find.
To solve this problem you can create a ‘sneeze’ page that links directly to content in your archive with a common theme or topic. It’s a great way to get people looking at your archive posts again, possibly for years to come.
8. Use social proof
When you’re choosing which restaurant to eat at, do you choose one with hundreds of 5-star reviews or one with a few 5-star reviews?
My guess it would be the one with hundreds of reviews. Why? Because you have social proof that it’s good.
You can provide social proof on your blog. If you have a lot of subscribers, tell people how many you have. If you’re getting a lot of comments on your posts, highlight how many people have commented. And if you have a lot of followers on social media, show those numbers as well.
9. Increase interaction
People are much more likely to come back to your blog if they’ve left a comment, voted in a poll, entered a competition or participated in a challenge.
So invite people to comment and participate in your blog. Create challenges and encourage your readers to take part. Get them interacting with your blog, with you, and with each other.
10. Be as personal as you can
Over the years I’ve found that people are far more likely to subscribe and connect with a human being than they are with a brand.
That’s why you see my face a lot on ProBlogger. It’s a way to personalize the brand. The way I see it, people like people.
You get can personal on your blog by using your photo, by telling stories, and by using different mediums such as podcasts and videos. That way people aren’t just reading your words. They can also hear your voice, and even see what you really look like.
Your readers will feel they have a real connection with you. And they will be more inclined to keep coming back.
11. Remove the dates on your old blog posts
I’ll admit this is a little controversial. And it will depend on the type of content you’re writing. But if you write a lot of evergreen content, it will stop people thinking it’s useless just because it wasn’t written in the past month or so.
I do this on Digital Photography School because we talk a lot about concepts that don’t change over time. I still link to a post about aperture that I wrote eight years ago. And I don’t want people judging the content by when it was first written.
But I keep the dates on our ProBlogger posts because the content there is more time-sensitive. We talk about tools, plugins and techniques that work today but may not work in a month’s time. And so it’s important for us to keep the dates on those particular posts.
12. Give people an incentive to subscribe
One way to encourage people to subscribe to your blog is to offer them something in return, such as a free download. Just keep in mind that some people may subscribe just to get what you’re offering and then unsubscribe.
A better option might be to offer them ongoing benefits. You could offer them a free course, which you will deliver via email over a number of weeks. That way they’ll have more incentive to hang around.
Just make sure what you’re offering is high quality and relevant to what your blog is about.
13. Work on your About page
One of the most highly read pages on any blog is the About page. People use it to find out:
- what your blog is about
- who is behind it
- whether you’re credible and know what you’re talking about
- what sort of style you have.
So make sure you use it effectively. I use it to tell my story, which is a great way to not only be relatable but also talk about the benefits of subscribing.
14. Have different messages for different readers
Not everyone arrives on your blog in the same state. They all have different intentions. One way you can tell is by finding out where they came from. And there are some great tools that let you deliver different messages to people based on whether they arrived Google, Facebook, Twitter or somewhere else.
15. Pay attention to the parts of your blog getting traction
If a particular post on your blog is getting a lot of visitors, try to take advantage of that traffic. For example, you could:
- add an invitation to subscribe
- add some ‘Further reading’ links to other posts in your archive
- write a follow-up post.
In the early days of Digital Photography School we published 10 Tips for Portrait Photography, which did really well. A week later I followed it up with 10 More Tips for Portrait Photography, and then linked the two posts together. Linking the second post to the first drove a lot more traffic to our site.
How will you keep your readers?
So there you have it: 15 ways to keep readers on your blog. So which ones are you going to try first? Let us know what you plan on doing in the comments.
Photo by Kristine Tanne on Unsplash