WHAT’S THE SECRET?

Closing in on 2 years of blogging, with more than 1500 posts and over 100,000 hits … I’ve think I’ve finally figured it out. The secret to getting more readers, more followers, more hits, better stats is that there is no secret.

Just do it.

Post interesting material often. Include graphics. There is a direct correlation between number of hits and number and quality of posts. Although some posts go bigger than others — often not the ones you expect — the difference isn’t huge, more incremental than geometric. Most of my posts get reasonable hits. Some do better, some get ignored (I rerun these, often with much better results second time). A few posts generate big numbers. Every once in a while, something hits a hot button, but typically the number of visitors per day doesn’t change much. What changes is the number of articles each visitor reads when they visit.

Some of my biggest days have been those with low visitor counts, but when each guest accesses 3 or more posts and/or pictures.Visitors average around 100+/- 15 — so between 85 and 115. Hits that come through the Reader or email do not count in the totals so you can reasonably assume you have more people reading you than stats indicate.

If guests hang around and read a lot, open pictures, poke around, you get the bigger hit counts. Β I’m betting the same people come almost every day. If they find interesting things to read and view, they hang out. Which is what you want them to do.

75-BooksHP

There are slow days of course. Everyone has them. And hyper-active days. We all have them, too. On a very active day, I might get 150 visitors, but that doesn’t mean the hit count will be 50% higher than on a day when I get 75 visitors. On a high visit count day, each visitor may only read (hit) one post while on a different day, each visitor may hit 3 or 4 times.

For example, on a day last winter when a blizzard was on the way, I had more than 250 visitors, but each one only read one post … the one about the coming storm. So it was a good day, but not extraordinary. My highest hit days were specific posts where a lot of people — thousands — came to see a single post. Every other high hit day included a normal number of visitors who spent more time exploring my site. No hocus pocus, no magic recipe.

Putting out the welcome mat.

The design of your website matters. You will absolutely get more people to stay long, read more stories, look at more pictures if you make it pleasant and easy for them. Make it easy to find past posts by subject, date, key word search. The more ways you help your guests find stuff that interests them, the better.

When I am on a website and can’t find a search box, no list of previous posts, no keyword search, I give up and go elsewhere. The web is infinite and gives us uncountable choices. Make your site accessible — transparent — and visitors will stay.

What I’ve figured out.

I know a few things and here they are:

  1. Articles about technology have a long shelf life. Reviews of cameras, computers, telephones and other techie stuff don’t get a lot of hits when they are first published, but continue to get hits for months, sometimes years. As long as the technology is in use, people who are shopping will look for reviews.
  2. Book and movie reviews (unless they are particularly “hot”) don’t usually go big initially, but will continue to get hits forever, as long as the search engine can find them.
  3. News and current events get a lot of hits when first published, but have no long-term interest.

If you are in this for the long haul, the backbone of your blog will be articles of enduring interest. Perhaps not the sexiest stuff you write, but stuff that contains information people need, reviews people look for. Pictures — properly tagged — get hits forever.

LOGOMANIAC-2

Buried treasure.

If you post a lot, older posts become hard to unearth. Even when you know the name of the post and search for it by its name, items older than 6 months old may not turn up. I don’t know if there’s anything you can do about this short of opening a new site.

What I do? I sift through archives, pick out the best pieces. Re-edit and re-publish them. Doing this prevents them from disappearing forever.

How often is often enough?

I’m going against common wisdom. I am sticking my neck out here and saying that a post a week isn’t enough. One single post per week, unless you are brilliant, writing about a subject with a guaranteed audience, are already famous so anything you post will get lots of attention — once a week isn’t enough.

Who makes a success of once-a-week blogs? Historians. Scholars. Well-known authors (though most of them post much more often). Newsletter writers. Everyone else?

You need to make visiting your website worthwhile. That means stuff to read. Entertainment, information. Great pictures. If you really don’t have time to create sufficient material to feed your readers and keep your site humming, maybe consider joining forces with other bloggers and take turns producing content? Without enough content, your site isn’t going to do much.

The formula is simple. Write well. Post often. Include pictures.

And finally: HAVE FUN! If you aren’t enjoying it, making friends, forming relationships, what’s the point? Successful writers and bloggers have verve and enthusiasm. You can’t fake that.

 



Categories: Blogging, Reviews, Statistics, WordPress, Writing

Tags: , , , , ,

34 replies

  1. Ok, I was referred here by Princess Rosebud over at Enchanted Seashells. We have been on wordpress for 7 months and I cannot figure out how to get one of them blankety-blank buttons on the freakin page!!!!! Please, please, please can you help? I can’t figure out how to put it on the side and I can’t figure out how to put it at the bottom of a post for a blog hop. We have two master’s degrees between us (but five kids, in our defense) and we just aren’t smarter than WordPress. Thank you.

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    • 1) Right click on the graphic (badge) then select “Save Image As …” and save it to whatever library you use to save pictures.

      On your dashboard editing page, using the menus in the left column:

      2) Add the badge to your media library (Media, Add New)

      3) Open your widgets page: Appearance, Widgets.

      4) Grab the Image widget and put it wherever you want the badge to appear — bottom, left or right column … it depends on your layout.

      5) Open the Image widget. You’ll see a blank line where you can put the URL of the graphic you want to display.

      6) To make your life easier, open another dashboard (another tab in your browser). Open the media library (Media, Library)

      7) Find the badge (you uploaded it before). Right click on it. Select COPY IMAGE URL.

      8) Go back to the Image widget and past the image url where it says IMAGE URL:

      9) Save the image, close the widget. Open a new tab of your website so you can see if it looks right. You may have to go back and adjust the size (try 350 X 350, that usually works for me, but it depends on the template … you may need to make it a bit smaller, like 300 X 300) … you’ll have to play that one by ear.

      10) That should do it. This would be a lot easier if I could include screen captures, but I can’t in comments and not on this computer … I’d have to adjourn to my desktop to do that and NCIS is on …

      Let me know if this does it for you. If it doesn’t, I’ll send you a real tech doc tomorrow, with captures. It took me a day and half to dope it out too. It’s not you, it’s just not intuitive or obvious.

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  2. Great advice, Marilyn. You nailed it! BTW I may be scarce getting scarcer. My online education work [this pays] is increasing and I am finding it harder and harder to keep up blogging [this does not pay]. Email is out of sight! I like your idea of reblogging older posts. I know of some good ones in 2012 that I am sure my newest followers have not found. I will stay in contact! πŸ™‚

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    • Follow the money, my friend. I would. If blogging only paid. Ah, how grand it would be. Bet you’ll find all kinds of hidden treasures in your archives. Just remember to delete the old comments!

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      • Oh! I would have never thought of that! Do you just copy/paste, update and post as though new?

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        • You can’t see comments until you *view* the post. They don’t show up in edit mode. You have to (this is a total pain in the butt) delete them one at a time using the edit (comment) function when you’ve previewing them. There ought to be a better way. But there isn’t. You can leave the comments, but it’s a dead ringer that it’s a rerun … if you care. Sometimes I delete them, sometimes not. It depends on the comments and whether they’re dated. And whether or not you like them.

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  3. Good post, I’ve only been at this for a couple of months, so am still learning, and love “how to blog,” advice. I think I need to organize my archives better so people don’t have to scroll through everything to find a particular post. Not sure how to go about it, but I’ll work on that. Thanks.

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  4. Hits that come through the Reader don’t count? I didn’t know that. When I first started blogging I was all about the numbers and figuring out the Freshly Pressed… now I don’t even think about either one. Writing, as you said, should be fun; fulfill something inside the writer. That’s enough for me.

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  5. Thank you for the good advice. I am still very new to blogging I only started in May and don’t post very often. However I am enjoying it so much I’m now starting to think about trying to do at least a couple of posts a week. My original aim was just to see if I could keep it up for more than a couple of weeks. I love your photos by the way.

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  6. Some sound advice here,….. from a fairly newbie I will accept all the wisdom there is to give.
    I have enjoyed blogging on here so much, with so many genuine people….. I’m getting there and what a great journey!! πŸ˜‰

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  7. Excellent advice. I’ve been going for a year (this week) and I learned quickly that one post a week wasn’t enough. The nerves went quickly, which is good, and I’m learning all the time. Right now I’m thinking I should simplify my categories (because I didn’t think ahead and so it’s pretty messy in there).

    Mostly I’ve learned how much fun it is and how wonderful people are in Blogsville and beyond. I did think it would be an effort, but has turned out to be a very helpful and beneficial routine to my days.

    Cheers! πŸ™‚

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    • Cheers to you too. I kept reading in those advice columns on WordPress that less is more, but my experience is that more is more and less is less. And yes, it really is about people and the friends we make.

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      • I agree. To stand out and be remembered, you have to be present. Once a week or even twice a week just doesn’t cut it. Traffic and contact with people really picked up for me when I started posting five or more posts a week. I like to vary the topic and keep it upbeat. I also love finding great blogs (such as your own) and people I can connect with, chat with and joke with. It really makes a difference to how I feel within the community. All of that was a real bonus – I just didn’t expect it. πŸ™‚

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        • I have a blog on Blogger and it gets traffic … but zero feedback. I post stuff, but I never bother to visit because there’s no contact at all. It’s weird and it isn’t a lot of fun. It’s people who make it worth the effort.

          I also write a lot faster than I used to!

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        • Weird! I just blog here and don’t have any inclination to go elsewhere. I do like what you said to the lady above me, about having fun or it just won’t work. I think that’s hugely important.

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        • Actually, it’s funny really – I’m blogging because I’ve got now two books I’m trying to promote, but I’m finding I’m getting more interest when I don’t try at all, but just chat – I think more people popped over and bought a bought a book when I ran a series of posts showing wilderness photos of snakes and tall grass and talking about when we lived in a hole in the ground – which has nothing to do with my writing! It did teach me that just being myself was the best way to go. πŸ™‚

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          • Most of the authors I read are active bloggers too. I love the connection with them … I just wonder how they find the time to writes books and keep up the blog … though they do tend to disappear when the going gets particularly heavy πŸ™‚

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        • Yes, I’m very much in that bracket. I can spend half a day working out what to blog, and that’s half a day I could spend on my next book (which I already feel should be further along). That said, blogging almost daily is a good writing discipline and I feel as though I achieve more rather than less – and yes, I disappear a bit as the deadline gets closer. πŸ™‚

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        • I wrote my second book in nine months, which surprised me as it was 560 pages of complex sci-fi (especially as the first story’s final draft took 15 months). In some areas I disappeared entirely, but in the blogging world I managed to keep up an appearance, disappearing only in the final weeks – I put up a series of “where I’m up to in the countdown” posts., which helped fill the gap up to the date of publishing.

          Are you planning on writing another book?

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          • No, not planning anything at the moment. Not unless I get a really great idea I can’t resist. Writing was easy compared to marketing. THAT was Hell. I wasn’t blogging yet in 2007 … hardly anyone was. It was a new thing, then. How quickly things change.

            Like

        • Yep, writing sure does get in your blood – and thank goodness for the Internet (and blogging). Cheers! πŸ™‚

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