We’ve spent a lot of time on the experience of blogging, but it’s time to get to the heart of the matter: how to get and keep readers. Parts 1, 2 and 3 covered some important points on how to write blog posts in a way that will be interesting to read. But readers will have to find them first.
Unless you are a celebrity or will blog about extremely controversial issues, you are but one in a by now huge community of bloggers in cyberspace. If you think that it is enough to just turn up with some nicely written post and accept the adulation of the crowds you are mistaken. Just compare it to going to a massive international conference with hundreds of researchers and parallel sessions – would it be enough to stand silently in a corner with you poster to make a splash? You need to connect, to socialize, to take part in conversations. Networking is always the most important aspect in any social medium and digital social media is no different. So how do you make connections through your blog?
Link and ping!
Your posts should contain links, not only to sites with more information (like a reference system), but more importantly to newspaper articles and other blogs. As you publish your post the content will be “pinged” (automatically by blog tools such as WordPress, but on others you may need to do it manually). This will result in your blog post being visible on blog portals, where people search for interesting content. Some of these portals gather blogs that are writing about a particular news article, others gather blogs that discuss certain topics which appear in the text.
The ping will also mean that bloggers may take note of the fact that you have linked to one of their posts and that you are discussing a topic they have raised. This will potentially lead to that not only that blogger, but also his/her readers find your blog.
Linking is a great gift to any blogger even if you are critical, as links drive up an article or a blog post making it more visible in search engines and on portals. If you are good at linking, and have interesting things to say, other bloggers will reciprocate by linking back to you, helping your blog to gain visibility. Links, in short, are completely vital if you want to gain a readership. You don’t even have to discuss specifically what you link to. If you’ve read an interesting post somewhere, let your readers know by recommending it. Perhaps that blogger will return the favor.
Participate – it’s not all about you!
If you want to be a good blogger, a successful blogger, you need to read other blogs and comment on them. First of all, reading other blogs is the best way to get an insight into what works and doesn’t work, how to write, how to construct your own blog, how to respond and interact. By commenting you leave a link back to your own blog and if your comments are interesting and knowledgeable both the blogger and his/her readers will be curious to check out your blog.
By interacting with other bloggers you start building a network that will be both rewarding and fun, lifting you outside of the narrow sphere we researcher usually move within – both globally and inter-disciplinary. It’s the social aspect of blogging that really makes it worthwhile, despite the time it may take. Without it your blog will be nothing more than a message board – and about as interesting.
Part 6 is a short list of the 6 most important things that we’ve covered here.