Back in 2014, CrazyEgg’s blog traffic jumped to 62,980 visitors in a matter of a few months.
That’s represented a 206% increase in the blog’s readership.
This might sound like the result of black magic.
But it’s not. It’s more like strategy.
I believe that every brand with a blog can achieve numbers like this if they put their efforts in the right place.
Everyone can blog.
Everyone can succeed as a blogger.
Everyone can hack their way to thousands of new website visitors and a regular readership.
The trick is simply knowing what to do and where to do it.
To help you achieve your brand’s blogging goals, I’ve put together a list of my top nine hacks that can build your reader base.
But before we get started, I want to make sure you’re on board with content marketing and show you just how vital it is to success on the Internet today.
Should your brand be blogging?
Yes! Your brand absolutely should be blogging.
Every brand should blog whether they’re B2B or B2C.
There are benefits for everyone.
Content marketing is one of the most profitable long-term strategies you can be doing in your business right now.
Why am I so adamant about content?
Because studies have shown that adopters of content marketing see conversion rates that are six times higher than non-adopters.
With improvements like that up for grabs, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to start creating content.
And many companies have started. 86% of B2C marketers are now using content marketing for their brand.
This all sounds great, but the truth is that despite the potential success of content marketing, generating traffic is the biggest issue marketers face.
It even outstrips the notorious headache of trying to calculate ROI.
But you see the dilemma here for someone trying to attract readers to their blog.
It’s a problem we all have – even experienced marketers like me.
And when you’re just starting out, it can be that much more difficult to know what the actual best practices are to build a loyal readership for your blog.
It can feel like an insurmountable mountain.
Ultimately, the discouragement could lead to you drop your content efforts altogether.
But that’s the last thing that you should do.
That means finding ways to create a brand-building content strategy should be at the top of your list.
To keep your blog active and help you stay motivated, I’ve compiled my nine best hacks for building a blog audience.
The first one goes back to your old high school English class.
Hack #1: Write for the Internet, not your English teacher
Whether you liked English class or not, there’s always a bit of it that stays with you.
Most likely, you still feel like any writing endeavor should be at least five paragraphs long with an intro, body, and conclusion.
And each of those paragraphs should be at least three sentences long, double-spaced, and sourced in Chicago style.
You’ve probably noticed already that I’m not writing that way.
That’s because writing has changed.
You no longer write predominately for print.
Unless you’re a journalist for a publication, you need to adapt your style to match your audience.
An online audience doesn’t want book-style writing.
That’s why you need to learn the two rules of online writing:
- Use short paragraphs.
- Rhythm determines what’s next.
Everything else in online writing falls under these two rules.
The emphasis is on flow, topicality, and creating skimmable and shareable content.
Browse the clip below from a blog post and look for the elements that stand out:
There are plenty of things to note here.
Various font sizes draw the eye from the headline to the introduction.
Then, the blue link in the middle piques your curiosity. What is six times higher?
Then, you’re eyes move toward the bolded words.
From start to finish, your skimming took about ten seconds.
In that short amount of time, you were able to determine what the article was about, find supporting evidence, and see an assertion.
It’s a great example of how writing for the Internet can draw your audience in quickly and effectively.
The big takeaway here is to make your content skimmable.
Whether you like it or not, 79% of your audience is only going to skim your content.
That’s not likely to change, either.
Not everyone will read your content.
Don’t be hurt by that.
Instead, create content that is easily skimmable and still provides value.
Or, use a tool like the Hemingway App to help you edit your content.
As you can see, it helps you visualize the difficulty of reading your content online.
You can use this tool to help you fine-tune your structure and grammar to boost readability.
Achieving just this hack alone can help boost the rate at which your audience reads and shares your blog post on social media.
It will also lay the foundation for future growth.
Those are pretty great results from one simple hack, right?
Hack #2: Dangle the carrot
How do you get your audience to read your content?
You have expertise in your industry that you need to share.
You hopefully know the pain points surrounding your product or service. Of course, your audience also knows those pain points, and they want a solution.
The solution is the carrot you get to dangle.
Dangling a carrot can entice your readers to browse less and read more.
And there are a few methods you can use to achieve this.
One of them is the Problem, Agitate, Solution method (or PAS).
Personally, I love this method.
It’s a great way to engage with your readers and display empathy.
While it can be pretty formulaic, I find that there’s something irresistible about a blog writer conveying an understanding the issue, showing you why it’s so important, and then offering a balm.
Go back and look at this hack again up to this point.
Can you spot where I introduced the problem, agitated it a little, and then offered you a solution?
That’s pretty powerful, right?
But PAS isn’t the only way to draw in your readers.
Another method you could use is called the AIDA Model.
This is another popular formula that helps you dangle the carrot of your expertise in front of an attentive and willing audience.
Here’s how it works.
Start by grabbing the reader’s attention with headlines, imagery, and relevant topics.
Then, pique your reader’s interest with an engaging introduction and engaging copy.
Use your authority and the flow of your arguments to build a strong desire for your solution.
Finally, call your reader to action immediately.
If you do all that, you’ll convert a visitor into a lead and take them one step closer to becoming an advocate for your brand.
Hack #3: Put in more time
How much time does it take to create a blog post worthy of close reading?
Do you write your posts within an hour or two?
This has been a hot topic for years, and my opinion is that the longer you spend on an article, the better it will be.
And it seems that people agree because more marketers are spending more time creating blog posts with each passing year.
Have you ever spent more than six hours on a blog post?
I know I have.
Actually, I spend more time than that quite often.
But why are marketers just now starting to spend more time on their content?
I believe it’s because people have begun to realize that there’s a vital element of content creation that requires the blogger to put extra time in:
The truth is that blogging should take you longer because you should create a higher word count.
That means that those blogs you’ve been reading that say that 400-600 words is the ideal length of a blog post are wrong.
Why is a high word count important?
Studies show that higher word count helps you rank higher on search engines and get more organic readers.
That means that spending a few extra hours to take a 1,000-word post and make it a 2,000-word post is worth it.
If you can take your ranking from below the second page of the SERP to potentially rank first or second on Google, there’s no question about what you should do.
What else can you do for your marketing that gives you that kind of boost but only takes a few extra hours?
I haven’t come across many other strategies that are that impactful.
So spend a little extra time on your blog posts if you want more readers.
That’s all there is to it.
Hack #4: Forget about keywords
Keywords are a vital part of any content strategy, right?
Well, no. That’s not really the case.
You see, there’s a harsh truth about keyword ranking that most marketers tend to not talk about:
Some keywords are nearly impossible for you to rank for.
You’d have to build a massive brand with years of experience and tons of backlinks just to rank in the top 100 for the really competitive keywords.
You can probably forget the top page altogether.
So what can you do instead?
I recommend focusing on searcher intent.
This method of approaching your content will revolutionize your content strategy.
Instead of trying to rank, you’ll instead focus solely on fulfilling the needs of your audience.
Think of it in terms of the classic how-to post.
Let’s say that you want to learn how to build a tiny house, and so you Google it.
Most of these look like helpful how-to guides.
But are they?
In order to successfully implement a searcher intent strategy, you have to make sure your content fills the need.
When I clicked on the top link while looking for a how-to guide, I didn’t see any guidance on how to build a tiny house.
In my mind, this damages this brand’s reputation and discourages future reading.
If I wanted to try to rank for this search, I would create an all-inclusive guide that not only displays these homes but also teaches you how to create them yourself.
Do you see the big difference in the approach?
It’s an awesome hack that alleviates the tension and boredom of trying to rank for certain keywords.
And, it’s much more value-centric.
Your readers will thank you time and again for it.
Hack #5: Instead of buying a picture, weave a tapestry
Many have said that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
But does your blog’s audience agree with that statement?
If all you ever do is imitate other brands, why would anyone want to read what you have to say?
That’s what I mean by “buying a picture.”
If all you ever do is copy, paste, edit a little, and share, there’s nothing different about you.
That’s why brand storytelling through your blog is so important.
Humans love to connect with a unique story.
And 92% of your blog’s audience wants to see content that’s linear and provides a narrative.
So how do you build a story-driven brand?
Start by knowing your why.
Your “why” is the key point of your brand, blog, and content that makes you different.
It’s what invites your audience to dig deeper into your brand and discover the intricate tapestry of your brand.
If you don’t have a why, you’re just creating empty content.
It has no purpose, so it won’t do anything.
Once you’ve established your why, build a regular voice that is instantly recognizable.
This is your chance to show how what you do shines in comparison to your competition.
Your voice will build on the foundation of your why and help build trust in the content that you share on your blog.
It’s also what ultimately creates the bridge between your brand’s “why” and “what.”
And that will one day lead to conversions, sales, and growth.
But before you get there, you have to finish creating your story.
To do that, you need to make sure that you deliver on the big picture.
That means creating or adopting a methodology that lets you monitor your messaging and create consistency across the board.
It also requires you to consider every element of your storytelling, not just what you want to get out of it.
By using a step-by-step guide to create and deliver on your brand’s story, you’ll develop the storytelling brand that your audience wants to see.
That will lead to a clearer brand image and more readers for your blog in the long run.
Hack #6: Don’t just blog
Blogging isn’t all about words.
It’s a mixture of many formats that combine to create value for your reader.
That’s why I never just write a blog post.
I include images, data, video, and anything else I can find to help engage with you and keep your attention.
And this is backed by data, too.
Consider the use of imagery in an overall marketing strategy.
These statistics convey higher rates of engagement, sharing, and information retention for visual content than simple text alone.
To me, a reader who is 323% more equipped to follow my direction is a loyal reader in the future.
Wouldn’t you agree?
But there’s still another question to explore.
Why is it that images help build your readership?
Well, according to Backlinko, blogs with imagery rank higher on search engine results.
That means that images will not only help your reader engage with the post, but they’ll also help Google understand and rank your content appropriately.
With a higher rank for your topic, you’ll gain more readers through organic search over time.
That’s two birds with one stone.
And the benefits of non-copy blog content don’t stop there.
For example, users are four times more likely to consume video content than written copy.
And with almost half of consumers wanting to consume more video in the future, there’s a compelling case for adding videos to your blog posts.
Consider also that most “strong result” blog posts include video.
This is why I include a video in every single blog post I create.
It’s a way I can provide relevant information that fleshes out your understanding of the topic at hand.
When you watch the video above, you not only learn that adding video to your content is important, but you also learn how to create it.
Do you see how powerful this method can be for fleshing out the topics you discuss?
I love it, personally.
But images and video aren’t the only way you can vary your content.
You can consider other formats that help you increase the uniqueness of your content.
The format you end up using is ultimately up to your creativity and effort.
Your audience will love your content, share it, and consume everything you create in the future.
Hack #7: Reach up, not just out
There are times when tapping into your existing audience for growth channels simply isn’t enough.
It could be that you feel like you’ve been asking too much of your readers.
I totally understand this feeling.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep creating content.
It means you need to find a new way to approach your audience and tap into a new frontier.
The perfect way to accomplish this is with influencer marketing.
More marketers than ever are integrating influencer marketing with all of their initiatives, and it’s paying off.
Collaborating with influencers in your industry is a great way to network and grow your readership while creating fresh and exciting content.
But even more importantly for your ultimate goals, the role of “the powerful middle” can be huge when trying to drive traffic and build readership.
Some of these statistics are just mind-boggling.
You can have 16 times higher engagement with your influencer content than with paid media.
Influencer campaigns can help a piece of content outperforming your previous content by 35 times.
And when you calculate in that 100 influencers can drive 1,000 actions in just one month, it should leave no question in your mind about how powerful this tactic can be for your blog’s growth.
So, while influencer marketing might take a little more effort, money, and follow-through, the results are well worth it.
Leveraging other digital audiences to expand your own can be a huge source of growth for even the smallest brand.
Hack #8: Remember that your target audience doesn’t include everyone
It’s tempting to think that everyone can use your product or service.
But the reality is far from that.
Most consumers on the Internet don’t want or need your content, and that’s okay.
There’s still a niche group that does need your content, and that’s your target market.
If you don’t know the audience you’re trying to speak to, you won’t get your ideal readers to listen to you.
It really is as simple as that.
Take time to become an expert in your target market’s demographics.
Know them inside and out.
Then, create content that is both creative and speaks to them like a real person would.
Once you do this, stay in the conversation and gather feedback as much as possible.
You’ll then have all the tools you need to create better, customized content that will attract new readers to your blog.
And don’t forget to research and use the right marketing channels to promote your content according to your audience.
Knowing your audience is a basic principle that you can’t ignore.
You hopefully already have much of the data you need sitting around.
Now it’s time to use it for your benefit.
Hack #9: Encourage conversation
One of the biggest challenges most blogs face is creating conversation.
While it’s possible to share a post on social media and create a buzz, many conversations get lost in the process of sharing and distributing material across platforms.
That’s why I recommend bloggers turn on comments for the actual post.
This has a few great benefits.
First, it centralizes your conversation, which will help you not lose track of your bloggers’ questions in the chaos.
And second, it actually increases the word count on your post.
As you can see, I’m not even close to the bottom of the page for this post.
The rest is all comments.
On that post, there are now more than 20,000 words between the original post and comments.
That means Google is going to pay attention to it for sure.
And the benefits don’t just stop with SEO.
These comments also provide social proof, build your network, and encourage discussion amongst your audience.
It’s a great way for you to establish yourself as a thought leader and cement your brand as an expert.
I always recommend directly asking for comments in your post like I do in my blog posts:
In my conclusions, I ask a very specific and open-ended question that my reader can choose to respond to.
And many readers respond:
By simply asking, several readers engaged with me and gave me more resources.
What’s more, my other readers could see this comment and check these tools out too.
If I had turned my comments off, I wouldn’t be adding this extra touch of value to my audience.
And you never know when one extra touch will make a big difference.
Blogging takes time, but it’s one of the most profitable things you can be doing right now.
By changing your writing style for the web, you’ll be meeting the expectations of your audience to an even greater degree.
Offering solutions strategically will encourage your reader to do more than just skim.
Spending a few more hours on creating your content will directly impact SEO, time on page, and many other important elements for your brand.
Anticipate needs, not keywords.
Don’t just imitate others. Weave a story worth telling.
Vary your content with images, video, and other formats to help engage new readers.
Leverage the power of influencer marketing to find new audiences for your brand and experience explosive growth.
Remember that everything rises and falls on your target audience.
And lastly, find ways to keep the conversation going on your blog.
Whatever tactics you choose, any of these hacks will have you on your way to a larger readership and growth for your brand.
What hacks have you used to find new readers that I didn’t mention?
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