No one ever starts a blog thinking “I don’t care if anyone ever reads it; I am going to write it anyway”.
The truth is we start blogging to be heard, to share, to interact, and yes, to make money.
Of course, none of it (especially, the “making money” part) is even remotely possible without loyal and active readership that keeps coming back for more.
What Makes Me an Expert?
I run a fairly successful Traffic Generation Cafe, which focuses on… what else?… traffic generation from various and mostly free traffic sources, particularly search engine traffic – that’s my clear favorite.
Just over a year ago no one ever heard of Ana Hoffman or Traffic Generation Cafe.
But now I get questions like this one all the time:
“You have created a huge and successful brand with your blog. What tips would you share with others about attracting and engaging loyal readers?” Ken Pickard, TheNetworkDad.com
And I am glad he asked.
The quickest path to success is finding out what others do well and duplicating it.
Step 1. Create/Join Commenting Tribe
When you are a nobody online, your biggest challenge is to find someone who would pay attention to what you have to say.
Good thing you are not alone – we all have to start at square one, right?
So when my blog came online, one of the very first things I did was started my own commenting tribe.
What is a commenting tribe?
Very simply, it’s a group of people who promote each other’s content online.
What’s the point?
1. To create social proof: there’s nothing worse than having a “dead” blog. The kind of blog where you hear crickets when you get there.
No social media shares, no comments. Quiet. Dead.
No one wants to be the first one to leave a comment.
However, if you already have a few comments on any given post, your new visitors will be more than happy to jump in on it. Basic human psychology.
2. To network with other bloggers: these were some of the strongest online friendships I’ve made. We had each other’s backs and still do.
3. To bring traffic from other members’ blogs: when you comment on other blogs, you get noticed.
But more on that in a second.
Where’s my tribe now?
We had a great run, but as of right now, my tribe is no longer active.
I do have good news though: Dev just started his own tribe on Blokube.com!
I strongly suggest you check it out and get commenting.
Step 2. Comment on Other Blogs
Does commenting on other blogs really work?
Well, it depends on what your goal is.
If you are hoping to bring hordes of traffic to your blog, I’ll tell you upfront: your chances are not great, although it’s been done before.
What blog commenting is great for is getting your face out there, branding yourself and your business, getting noticed by others, and networking with other bloggers.
Be EVERYWHERE and others won’t have a choice but to notice you.
That’s how I brought many people to my blog: not through any one specific comment, but by leaving intelligent comments all over the blogosphere.
A few commenting tips that helped me get there:
- Read the posts you are commenting on – goes without saying, yet I am still surprised how many bloggers skip that and end up in spam or trash.
- Comment on active blogs – the kind of blogs where the author responds to comments and creates reader discussions.
- Respond to other commentators’ comments – if you see someone asking a question, don’t be afraid to jump in and offer your solution. It’s a great way to be noticed by both the commentator and the blog owner. Just don’t overdo it.
- Make sure to use an avatar – yet another obvious thing that many commentators neglect. And it’s so easy to do! Just go to Gravatar.com and follow the instructions on how to add your image to the email address you use to comment with. Hint: personal photos work best.
To see the list of quality blogs I use for my personal commenting, check out my CommentLuv enabled blog list.
Step 3. Write for Other Blogs
This is the tune I’ll never get tired of singing.
One of the best ways to become a household name is by guest posting for some of the best blogs in your niche.
Let me give you an example.
My friend Danny Iny of FirepoleMarketing.com.
Just a few short months ago, no one ever heard of the guy.
All of a sudden, his name started popping up just about everywhere around the blogosphere, including blogs like Copyblogger.com, Problogger.com, DIYThemes.com, Kikolani.com, just to name a few.
Actually, his first guest post showed up on Copyblogger.com in the beginning of 2011 – guest posting strategy with a bang!
Targeted readership most bloggers only dream of, personal connections with many A-listers, interviews with untouchables like Guy Kawasaki, a successful product launch not too long ago, and a book with contributors like Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark, Mitch Joel, and many others coming out very soon.
All in LESS THAN A YEAR.
With guest posting being the cornerstone of his marketing strategy.
Moral of the story: don’t ignore this step.
Start today by writing a guest post for Technshare.com.
Step 4. Engage Your Readership
This is the last important step on your way to a popular blog: engage your visitors once you get them to your blog.
Here are some things I do on my blog to encourage my readers:
1. Ask questions. Don’t just talk AT your readers; get them involved. Always end your posts with a question to encourage them to share their opinions.
2. ALWAYS respond to comments. If your readers feel like you don’t care about their opinions, why would they share them?
Responding to comments is what makes your readers want to come back.
3. Let them know you responded to their comment. It’s very easy to set up a plugin like ReplyMe, which is what I use on my blog, to let your commentators know when you reply to their comments.
4. Encourage them to share. What better way to leverage your existing readership and to bring in even more readers than by encouraging them to share your posts throughout their social networks?
And the best way I found to do just that is by using CommentLuv Premium.
Since link building is one of the biggest reasons people comment on blogs, why not give them an incentive to choose a CommentLuv link to their latest 10 posts AFTER they share your post via Twitter, or Facebook, or +1 it?
Unfortunately, CommentLuv Premium is currently closed to the new members.
Fortunately, the new launch is coming up on November 7.
And even better, I am running a CommentLuv Premium giveaway on my blog, where you can get your hands on this greatest release of the year on me.
There’s nothing new under the sun.
If you think that any of the popular bloggers got there because they had a magic trick up their sleeves, you are mistaken.
We all have to pay our dues on the way to online success.
The good news is that these steps are entirely duplicatable and obtainable. The future of your site lies in your hands and how hard you are willing to work for it.
Are you going to do it or sit it out on the sidelines? Comment to show me that you’re alive!