In the first year of running my blog I wrote close to 100 guest posts. I was consistent and committed to growing my blog by writing 2 guests posts a week on blogs ranging in size from 1,000 to 50,000 subscribers. After 3 quarters of aggressive guest posting I was still struggling to break the thousand subscriber mark. A few months back I interviewed Jon Morrow. After that interview, I realized I had made some critical mistakes that had costs me 1,000’s of potential subscribers, fans and followers.
1. A Focus on RSS Numbers
Like many early stage bloggers, for months I obsessed about seeing the chiclet count on my Feedburner badge hit 1,000, only to find that it wouldn’t do much for me other than inflate my ego. Top add to that Feedburner became completely unreliable and the subscriber count fluctuated dramatically on a weekly basis. The number of people who subscribe to your blog via RSS is one of the most meaningless metrics because it’s not an accurate representation of who is really reading your blog. I’ve found blogs with 1,000’s of RSS subscribers and virtual no comments. So, don’t focus too much of your effort on this.
2. A Lack of Landing Pages
If there’s one thing that cost me and many other bloggers 1,000’s of subscribers, it is not having landing pages in their guest post bylines. In the past if I wrote a guest post, I would just include a link to my blog. Now I make it a point to include a link to my pages on the 7 most important things you should have learned in school. The result is about 50-60 new subscribers for every single guest post I write.
3. No Email List
There is probably not a single successful blogger who won’t tell you that “the money is in the list.” My friend Dan Andrews refers to this as your silent majority. The people who comment on blogs are often other bloggers, but your readers that you should paying the most attention to are the ones on your list.
Your list gives you an opportunity to have a much more private, intimate conversation with your readers because, by singing up for your list, they’ve given your permission to do exactly that. With a list, you can send a very specific message on a particular day/time of the week. One of the biggest mistakes I made in the early days of my blog was neglecting to build up a list with my content on my blog. Below I’ve shared a few tips to get things going with your list.
- Repurpose content. One simple way to improve your list is to repurpose your archives for use in your newsletter (credit to Nathalie Lussier). If you’ve been writing for 3-6 months you should have more than enough content to do this. If you’ve got an e-book you can use sections of it for for newsletter content.
- Write one article each day. If you are writing one blog post each day, all you have to do is repurpose one of those articles for your newsletter. If you do this for 5 days in a row, you will have an autoresponder sequence
- Record audio/video content. As a podcaster, I’m a huge fan of anything multimedia. It gives your readers a really in-depth view into who you are as a person since they get to hear your voice or see your face. It is also often faster than writing.
4. No Immediate Call to Action
When a new reader first signs up for your email list, engagement is at a high point. That is why it is important to strike while the iron is hot and incorporate calls to action at the right moment. Below, I’ve include the calls to action have driven my engagement with my readers through the roof
1) Create a custom confirmation page. I have give credit to David Risley for this idea. Rather than just have people confirm their email address, I send my readers to a custom confirmation page where they see a welcome video with some calls to action. The result has been a dramatic increase in the number of Facebook fans.
2) Send emails for 7 Days in a row. Some people might debate on this one. But I found that when somebody receives an email from you everyday for 7 straight days after they sign up for your newsletter, the open rates go up. It is because you are fresh on their mind. When they get an email from you once a week, they might not even remember how they ended up on your blog.
3) Request replies. In the very last newsletter people receive from me in the auto responder, I ask them to reply to me with what they would like me to write about and what their current challenges are. I get an email at least once a week with people sharing their thoughts with me. I have to credit Derek Halpern for this advice.
Everything on this list is about creating a deeper connection with your readers. The increase in numbers is just icing on the cake.
What do you do to ensure better engagement with your readers and subscribers? Please share in the comments!