How to make your blog popular is what I talked about at Barcamp Bangalore 4 in the Bloggers collective.
I didn’t talk much about the search engine optimizing, regular keywords management and other regular tech stuff but more about the real world ways of making others interested to read your blog. I called it a back door entry trick to make your blog popular. A la Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton and Rakhi Sawant. I had power point slides beamed on the background with just one point per slide about which I talked.
Write good stuff or wait till you do!!
We don’t always get everything right when we start writing. It takes a lot of writing till you get the hold of your style and a feel of your readers. That’s when you feel confident and till then its best not to popularize your blog. Let your close friends circle know about it and if others find your blog by some other way, well and good. But it’s always good not to risk the chance of a chunk of readers going away from your blog only coz your blog is not up to the mark. Once you are confident, let the world know. Till then be patient.
Be more human
This point is more applicable for tech blogs. Even though you are wrting about something very technical, try to give it a human face. Build use cases which a common man can understand around the subject your are talking about which will make him interested in reading your post. I really like the way google and yahoo talks about their newly launched features by building a story around it. I consider Robert Scoble’s iphone review as the best coz he gave a human face to it. Instead of just listing down its pros and cons he explained the stuff by telling a story of he and his son going for a walk with the new iphone, taking pictures and making calls.
Keep it short and sweet
Keep the posts short and sweet which will facilitate an easy and quick reading for your reader. Many times I have skipped long posts as usually I don’t have patience to read through long stuff; I read at my leisure time at work and my objective is to cover as much as possible. Respect your reader’s time. The best way of presenting a long post is by cutting it up into different parts and by posting the episodes one by one every day. One thing you have to keep in mind is that the episodes should end in a way that will grip the user to wait for the next part. A la soap operas.
Cross link your posts
Try to cross link your stories whenever possible so that readers who have come to your blog lately wont miss out on your old stories. You can also cross link posts for reference purposes so that readers don’t go unaware of what you are talking about.
Never forget to garnish
Add loads of masala to your stories so that it makes an interesting read. I always cook up stories around what I’m intending to talk about and package it as a bollywood flick.
Interesting side bar stuff
Use your sidebar area to offer more stuff for your reader to go through even though you haven’t posted anything new on your blog. I have put a google reader feed which shows all the latest posts from my favorite blogs, a tag cloud which shows popular keyword/topics about what I talk about etc. Your reader should feel that if he comes to your site there is always something for him to go through.
Make your reader comment
After a point of time you wouldn’t actually appreciate comments like “Good post” and you “Write well”, but you expect more reader participation through the proceedings. To make sure your reader puts in constructive comments or start off a discussion, your posts have to be written in such a way that the reader also has something to share with you. Have the question “Why should anyone comment on my post?” in mind and write stories accordingly. Don’t let your stories be closed ended.
Have a partner in crime
Find a friend who can help you in putting in comments of your choice, moderate a discussion or spark off a controversy
Reply to their comments
Make sure that you reply to all your reader comments. The fact that you are listening to him will boost his ego and makes him come back.
Return the favour
Visit your readers’ blogs, read and comment. There are two advantages. One is that your reader will be happy to get a new reader for himself. Second is that if you can be a noticeable one on his blog, his readers will also visit your blog.
Opposite sex attract
If you are a girl and if you comment on guys’ blogs, there is a sure shot chance of he and his readers coming to your site.
Link them up
Your reader feels good to have his blog linked up on another blog. He feels more connected to your blog and will be a regular visitor.
Write about them
Writing about your reader and his blog makes him happier of course.
Shameless Self Selling
Tell each and every person about your blog. Don’t feel shy. Put it on your email signature, messenger status, biz card etc. Whenever you talk to someone try to bring in the subject of your passion for writing and let them know your blog url. The very reason that I have put my blog url on every slide on this presentation is for the same reason.
Make them click on your name
Have you ever searched for the word “here” in google? It will give you “Download Adobe Reader” and “Download Flash player” as the results. Its coz many sites have linked up the word “here” (Download here/Get here) to those download locations. Whenever a word is linked to a particular url, Google understands it as the word has something to do with the location. And hence it indexes the url under that word. Keeping this in mind, if you want your site to come up on the google search results for your name, you have to make sure that it’s your name which is linked to your blog. When you comment on a wordpress blog, it normally links up your name to the website url you have entered. But on blogspot you tend to login and hence it links up your name to the blogger profile page. Whenever possible use the “other” option in blogspot and just put in your name and url.
Write about Shilpa Shetty
As you know she is currently in news for all the good and bad reasons and one of the most searched names on the web, you wouldn’t want to miss out the chance of your blog coming up on the search results when someone searches for her. Write about stuff that are currently in news or hype. The iphone, google phone, orkut (if you are in India), facebook, twitter, fake steve jobs etc are good choices to talk about.
Give them a reason to come back
At the end of the day it’s all about the quality of the stuff you write about. Give your reader a good reason to come back. Whatever gimmicks you do, there is no way you should compromise on the quality of your articles. All these antics are just to let people know about your blog and make them come back. But if you cant really hook them up after a point of time, consider your efforts have all gone waste.
I concluded the talk by saying
If you still don’t get what I’m saying, read my blog.
I told the audience that the whole talk of mine was also a part of the shameless self selling of my blog and they got it instantly.
Some of my audience have mentioned about my talk on their blogs
bcb4.text.out, BCB4 log, BCB4 - Nearing the EOD
Thats me on a photo blog
Best of both worlds
And there is a podcast too
BCB4 Podcast (Please excuse my terrible accent)