People often ask me, “How can I get my blog visitors to stick around and participate in the community?”
This question has come from many different people who have blogs on diverse topics: business owners who blog, authors, freelance writers. Even personal bloggers.
Okay, I’m going out on a limb here. But I’ll say this:
- I don’t care the reason, goals or purpose of your blog.
- I don’t care who your readers are.
- I don’t care what you blog about.
There are certain things your blog visitors wish you knew. If you could sit down with them, they’d tell you.
They’d tell you at least 10 things that make them jump ship before they have a chance to get hooked on your blog.
1. I don’t know what you want me to do when I land on your home page.
If you give your visitors too many choices, too many links to click on, they’ll get confused and go away. Think about the one thing you want them to do. Is it to subscribe to your blog? To sign up for your newsletter? Or something else?
And get rid of every sidebar widget that doesn’t relate to your blog and/or your business. You may love the top 10 records by decade widget or the one that shows the daily rainfall in Belize, but they just confuse your readers.
2. I want to know who you are right away.
You have the attention of your first-time visitors for scant seconds. They want to know who exactly is this person behind this blog. Besides your about page, consider a small bio box with a little text about you and your photo and place it prominently in your blog’s sidebar.
And research shows that people connect with you emotionally and will remember who you are when they can see your photo.
3. I want to know what your blog is about right away.
Do you have a tagline? A short one-liner that tells visitors right away on the home page what your blog’s mission/purpose is?
Do you list categories of the topics you write about in your sidebar? You don’t have much time (or space) to convince your visitor she is in the right place. Use them wisely.
4. I want stuff I can find quickly with posts that are helpful and easy to read.
Think of your visitor in a red Miata, racing at 70 miles per hour. Because that’s what’s happening when she hits your blog. She depends on road signs to help her find her way.
She’s a scanner. She skims through your stuff looking for the interesting, helpful parts. That means that white space and frequent sub-heads are your friends. Use them liberally. Avoid long pieces of text in your posts.
5. I don’t like feeling like I’m walking into WalMart when I first arrive.
Your visitor doesn’t know you yet. Don’t scare them away with big old ads and posts that just say, “Buy! Buy!” Gently guide readers into your sales funnel after you have developed trust and credibility.
6. Your blinking pop-up windows make me run away.
Those annoying floating or blinking pop-ups should not be the first thing your visitor sees. If you are going to use them (I don’t), be sure your visitor has enough time to engage with your content first.
7. I’d like to read a few sample posts first.
Some first-time visitors want to try before they buy. Give them a few posts on your sidebar they can click through and read so they can get a feel for your content and voice. My blog stats show that I get lots a page views on my “Most Popular Posts.”
8. I want to subscribe but I don’t see how.
Believe it or not, some visitors are at your blog because a friend told them to check out this cool blogger. And that’s a good thing. But getting there, liking what they see and not finding a way to subscribe? Not so good.
Make that sign-up box big and in their face.
9. I don’t like headlines that trick me.
The best way to lose visitors and readers is to tease them with a sensational headline and then not deliver what you promised in your post. Go for appealing. Go for unique and unusual. Just don’t deceive them. Because they won’t come back.
10. I want to feel like I belong.
This may be the most important one. Make every visitor feel welcome. Build a community not a club. Encourage comments and respond to all of them. Because they are your gold mine. And the best way to build your community.