Everybody knows a blogger without an audience isn’t worth much. Building readership is pretty much Blogging 101—but do you know how to do it?
What’s more, once you do draw an audience, do you know how to keep it? What should you do when your metrics reveal readership is down? How do you win readers back?
To help answer those questions, let’s consider the reasons readers leave and then look at what to do about them.
With proper planning, you can better retain readership and move your site towards growth.
Reasons Readers Leave
The fact is, bloggers often lose readers because they are, unintentionally, doing things to turn them away. Could this be the case with your site? Ask yourself what you’ve recently changed or expanded. How might those changes be alienating readers? Ask yourself what you’re posting. How might that content be disappointing to your audience? To help you discern the problem, consider some of the most common reasons readers leave:
- Boring Titles: The title is your first chance to draw in a reader, whether he or she sees the title in a search result or an RSS feed. If your titles are consistently boring, you lose your audience.
- No Stories: Humans love stories. Even if you write about auto parts or financial planning, you have opportunities to incorporate stories into what you post. When you ignore the value of narrative, however, you send the message that your subject matter is less relatable and more archaic. Readers have fewer reasons to stick around.
- Infrequent Posting: Readers like regular content. When you go from consistent biweekly posting to posting once a month or less, you have set up expectations that you no longer meet. Readers come looking for new content, find nothing, and eventually stop coming around.
- Lack of Engagement from Blogger: Generally speaking, commenters expect you to respond to their questions. If you’re a celebrity blogger with thousands of comments, you might be off the hook; if you’re a small personal blogger with two to three comments on a post to which you never respond, you come across as snobby. This not only discourages readers from interacting with you, but also discourages them from visiting in the first place.
How to Retain Readers
Understanding some of the main reasons readers leave is only a first step towards retaining them. Next, you must practice basic blogging principles that pull in readers. By implementing the habits outlined below, you make your site worth following.
- Craft Clear, Clever Titles: Knowing the title is your first impression to readers, take the time to write creative ones. Aim for titles that clearly communicate what their corresponding posts reveal, and hint at some value to be delivered to the reader (i.e., “the secret to X,” “the best X advice,” “how to X”). Make it hard for readers to resist clicking through to your blog.
- Use Story: Because readers love story, it’s in your best interest to find ways to incorporate narrative into your posts. Whether you share customer experiences or behind-the-scenes details, you make your content more interesting and relatable.
- Set Expectations & Deliver: One of the biggest benefits of regular posting is that it builds trust with your readers. Decide how often you want to post, and stick to that schedule. As readers recognize your posting frequency, they come to expect new content on your usual posting days. The more you fulfill that expectation, the better.
- Respond to Readers: Make it a habit to respond to reader comments and questions, whether on the blog, on social media, or by email. When readers know you’re paying attention to them, you have given them another reason to pay attention to you.
Does the dilemma of losing readers feel familiar to you? Have you noticed that readers are unsubscribing from your RSS feed or that traffic is going down? If so, take the advice in this post to heart—with a little intentionality and discipline, you can bring your readers back.
Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Web design firm providing specialized SEO, Web development, and other online marketing services