If you build a business blog, will they come?

You’ve started a blog and created some content – why aren’t people flocking to your site?

The reality is, unlike the movie starring Kevin Costner, you can’t just build a great site and sit back and watch everyone comes to read your articles. You need to go out and gather a tribe of people to follow you.

So where do you start?

At the recent ProBlogger event, Darren assembled a panel of bloggers to share their story of how they successfully built their audience. We were lucky enough to hear from Phoebe Montague (Lady Melbourne), Chris Hunter (BikeExif.com) and Lucy Feagins (The Design Files) – all of who willingly shared tips and tricks they learnt along the way.

Have a plan

You can’t be everything to everyone. It’s important to identify who you want to reach – which will enable you to create content that meets their needs. And make sure this content has a hook, something that will allow readers to engage with you (for a refresher, visit last week’s post for more on creating content). Once you know who you are trying to target, find out where they hang out online. This way, you can develop a presence in this space – but make sure you’re contributing in a meaningful way, and not just being a spambot. When Phoebe launched Lady Melbourne, she would visit around 50 similar blogs each day, contributing to their conversation and getting involved. She does caution on being useful – make sure you’re not just leaving ‘nice photo’ or ‘great post’ comments everywhere.

Make it easy for people to find and like you

Understand how your audience likes to read your posts. RSS? Email? Via Twitter updates? You should ensure that you offer a variety of subscription methods, and use your communication methods to drive people to your hot spots (such as an article that’s getting lots of traffic or comments). You should also make sure you’re allowing your personality shine – Lady Melbourne attributes her highest traffic to those posts that feature her own pictures or experiences. Engage readers by allowing them to experience what you experience through your eyes.

Share the love amongst readers you already have

So many bloggers spend time trying to find new readers, rather than engaging the ones they already have. Your existing readers shouldn’t be taken for granted – neglect them and you run the risk of having no audience at all! Make sure you’re taking the time to respond to every comment left on your blog – and if you’re noticing your readers also have their own blog – share the love by stopping by their site to say hi once in a while.

Be new and interesting

It’s estimated that there are now nearly 200 million blogs in the world. Blogging is no longer newsworthy in itself – if you want to attract attention you need to be doing something out of the ordinary. Personal content tends to get the most traction, as does the quirky or unusual. Lady Melbourne saw a huge jump in traffic when she posted an article on a dress she made from garbage bags. Lucy from The Design Files only uses original images – anything brand new is a drawcard to bring traffic to your site. You can also try keeping an eye on breaking news in your industry, and posting information about it as soon as possible – those sites who are first with a hot topic generally reap the audience rewards.

And before you run off to gather your readers, think about your own experiences. What blogs do you regularly read? Why are you attracted to them? How did you find them in the first place? It’s the perfect starting point to think about gathering readers of your own.

Next week, I’ll show you how to develop a basic editorial strategy, and help you decide if you need actually need one at all.

Just joining us? You’re in luck – Part One, Part Two and Part Three of our business blogging series are waiting for you to stop by and read them.

Over to you. Do you have a business blog? (feel free to share the link below!) How do you find readers? What steps did you take to build your audience?