I haven’t written a post here in a while so my blogging game is a little rusty. When I was thinking of what to write about I realized one of the best places to look for blog topics is right here on my own blog.
I’m talking about the people I’ve already convinced. The people whose attention I’ve already grabbed. What topics are they into?
So I started thinking of all the ways we as bloggers can mine our own sites for data about our current readers. After all, they are the ones who are interested and they are the ones who will go forth and actually share what we write.
Turn your readers into evangelists for your blog by giving them the content they’re interested in. Writing a blog is hard enough let alone promoting it all on your own. Build your current audience so they can lend you a hand with promotion.
These tips will help you get to know your readers and learn what content they’re actually interested in.
Are you ignoring your comments?
Comments on your blog posts are probably the best indicator that someone is interested in what you have to say. Your post has struck a chord with this person enough to make them transform lurking into action. That’s huge!
Here are a couple ways to leverage those comments:
- Always respond to comments. There’s no better way to start that relationship with your audience than through a conversation on your own blog. Help them with their questions, give them some extra advice, and make it very personal. Sometimes a good discussion can enhance your content beyond anything you originally intended. Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich) of Spin Sucks makes a great case for responding to commenters when she says, “building community, debating ideas, and listening to other people’s perspectives is as equally important as putting the thought onto the computer screen.”
- Stalk their website. Most comment systems allow the commenter to include their website URL. If you have access to it, visit it and stalk them. Find out what interests them. Go comment on their posts, share their content and then tell them what you thought. Kevin Duncan (@kevinjduncan) of Be A Better Blogger is a pro at commenting on other people’s blogs because he brings real insight and discussion points that actually add to the piece. This goes a long way when building a relationship with your readers.
If you’re lazy like me or you just want a smarter way to pull URLs from commenters, Anthony Nelson (@anthonydnelson) of Northside SEO put together this awesome post about scraping URLs from blog comments. You can use a free Chrome plugin to do so and it’s super easy. If you need help, just let me know!
- Stalk their Twitter. If you find their website you’ll find their Twitter profile. Find out what this person is interested in outside of your blog. Share their tweets, reply to them, do whatever you can to spark that relationship.
- Ask yourself why they commented. One of your goals should be to learn what you did right with this post. What about it made this person comment? Is it something they’re really interested in or was it some thought-provoking statement you made. Whatever the reason, research the effectiveness of your blog posts as much as possible and learn as much about what creates success for you.
Who is sharing your content?
What if you’re not getting blog comments? How else can you learn about your audience?
- Look at who’s sharing your content. Throw one of your most successful posts into a free tool like Buzzsumo or Topsy to see who on Twitter shared your content. Then stalk them (are we noticing a pattern yet?). Find their website and learn about them. Throw their Twitter handle into a tool like Followerwonk and find out who they follow and who is following them. Then continue the stalking life cycle.
- Where is your content getting shared the most? Going back to Buzzsumo, take a quick glance at where your content is getting shared. Look at my example above. I would never have guessed my top post would have performed so well on LinkedIn. My next step is to learn how to optimize my content for the people on that network. If it’s working, don’t fight it!
What about that valuable mailing list of yours?
How about your mailing list? These are people who have actually given up a small token of their privacy to have your content delivered right to their inbox. How special for you! You can’t ignore these people!
- Find domain names in your email list. Not many, but maybe 1 out of every 20 subscribers on OG Content have an email address containing their website URL. Repeat the website stalking process with these people. Throw their email address into Google and start digging. A good place to learn more about this tip would be Amit Agarwal’s (@labnol) post Tips on Reverse Email Search.
Certainly your traffic can tell you something…
Ok, so what if you’re pretty new to the blogging game and you’re not getting comments, subscribers or social shares. Well, hopefully you are tracking your traffic with Google Analytics or a similar platform.
- Look at your referral traffic. Referrals are other sites that are sending you traffic. Here you’ll find blogs, sites, aggregators, social sites and more that are sending traffic your way. Find those pages that are sending you traffic and begin researching. Did someone link to you? Great! Let’s start a relationship with them. After getting acquainted with the author, repeat the comment and social share stalking with their posts and hijack that audience!
Quick guide to finding referral traffic in Google Analytics
- Go to Acquisitions > All Referrals
- Sort by Sessions to see which sites are bringing you the most traffic
- Click through one of the sites to see the exact page linking to you
- Analyze your most popular posts. No referrals? No problem. Look for your most popular posts over time. There has to be one that stands out among the rest. Re-read it and find out why it’s doing so well. Is it the title you wrote? The length? What topic did you write about? Maybe that’s what your audience is actually interested in. Try writing more posts on that specific topic and see how they do. You might have stumbled upon a niche you can own.
You think you have nothing when you actually have everything
What if you have none of the above data sources to pour over. Maybe your blog is brand new. Maybe it’s just not performing like you want it to. The good news is the Internet is stalker-friendly. Most of these strategies can be used on other people’s blogs. Find some bloggers in your niche that you emulate or consider competitors. Stalk their commenters, see who’s sharing their content, throw their posts into your favorite backlink tools and see which sites are linking to them.
When you’re trying to grow your blog and readership, start with the people you’ve already convinced. Those are the people you want on your side – the ones who care enough to talk about and share your content. Start by pleasing them and you’ll have an army of evangelists to help you grow your blog.
Did I miss any crucial tactics? How are you learning about your readers? I’d love to try out some new strategies so let everyone know in the comments!