For the longest time, I heard crickets on the other side of my blog. Then, it clicked. Here is why nobody is reading your blog.
So, you’ve started a blog.
No matter what type of blog you’ve created, it can be assumed that you’ve created it because you’ve got this nagging passion under your skin that you can no longer suppress. Thus, you’ve decided to expel this enthusiasm for whichever subject, and are putting your heart out through the interwebs. You’re spending hours upon hours immersing yourself into web hosting, search engine optimization, copywriting, and everything else that comes along with blogging.
You’ve been doing this whole blogging thing for three months, six months, a year, two years… yet, somehow, your readership is nowhere near where you thought it would be. The needle seems to have remained stagnant all this time.
Friend, I’ve been there.
For a whole two and a half years I felt completely lost. I felt exhausted. Like I was doing everything right (or so, I thought), yet nothing was working. I was irritated, confused, and fed up.
“WHY ISN’T ANYBODY SEEING, READING, INTERACTING?” I asked myself as I put forth undying effort into content creation, only to hear crickets on the other end. Meanwhile, fellow bloggers who had been in the “biz” for a fraction of the time I had were far surpassing me in readership.
After all of that time, everything finally clicked in my head. And once it did, everything changed. Not overnight – nothing works like that in the blogging world. However, my readership progressively grew, and I’d realized what I had been doing wrong that entire time.
Here’s why nobody is reading your blog.
You’re Riding Solo.
Nothing changed mine or Georgie’s blog like connecting with other bloggers. Why? Because collaboration allowed us to learn, teach, grow, and connect (sound familiar?). We began to learn so many new things from other bloggers, while teaching others the gems that we knew (and teaching is a great way to solidify knowledge). Collaborations showed us what we were good at, what we should and shouldn’t focus on, and created room for cross-promotion.
It’s not about self-promoting your content in different Facebook groups. It’s about finding your blogging buds, being inspired by like-minded individuals, and soaking up value from each other. BGB Community has become like our family, and we would not be where we are without them.
Each of us had about an entire year living on a blogging island by ourselves before we ever connected with any bloggers. As soon as we joined communities, engaged on social media, and collaborated with others, we saw a world of a difference.
You’re all over the place.
There is a reason why bloggers like Inspiralized or Paleomg have seen such success. Their niche is undeniable – when you land on their websites, you know exactly what they’re saying, offering, representing. Their brand is laser-focused and strong. They are experts. You will always know what to expect from them. They’ll never let you down.
Creating a super niche brand is a great way to grow big, and grow quick. However, sometimes slow and steady wins the race. What I mean is: if you’re not a super niche blog (like Inspiralized), it’s still possible to find focus without having a bullseye on one particular food, product, sport, etc. I would say this was the area of my brand that took me the longest to figure out. It was one of those things that was right in front of me all along, and I’m not sure why I never noticed it, but once I did, I was unstoppable.
When you lack focus, you lack the ability to really put forth maximum effort. You’re more focused on quantity versus quality. You make it more difficult for people to relate and rely on you for information. But, once you’re able to find focus, you can pour your energy, creativity, and hard work into that topic(s) for your audience.
So, how the heck do you find your focus?
Analyze your Google Analytics. No matter how small your readership is, you can surely see a trend with your content. Look at your top two most popular (most viewed, most engaged) posts. What do they encompass? Let’s say, for instance, your two most popular posts were a smoothie recipe, and an oatmeal recipe. Both of these are breakfast recipes, they’re simple, and they’re healthy. What does this say about your audience?
Action item: After looking up your two most popular posts, create your next five blog posts with those in mind. If your most popular posts were recipes with very few ingredients, make your next five recipes extremely simple.
Which pins are getting the most repins on Pinterest? Similar tactic to the first, this is another great (and easy) way to see what people are enjoying. Simply click on your notifications in Pinterest, and see which pins are getting the most action. Personally, this tactic, combined with the first, worked great for me, as I was able to really get a wide lens view on what my audience was enjoying.
Action item: Find your top three most pinned pins. Using BoardBooster* (our preferred method of Pinterest scheduling/engagement), spend five minutes on each pin re-pinning to related boards. We recommend periodically going back to your Pinterest and re-pinning your most re-pinned pins.
Audit yourself. You’re the person behind the blog, and your content is only as good as your skills, expertise, and passion. So, to find out what you should focus on, in addition to what technology is telling you, we recommend asking yourself these questions: What am I passionate about? What skills can I relay to my content? What related experience do I have? What questions am I frequently asked related to my content? If someone asked me to describe my blog in one sentence, what would I say? What type of person do I get along with best?
You’re not providing value.
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again: your blog is not about you. It’s about who’s reading it. More often than not, people are surfing the net because they are looking for something. If somebody stumbles across your blog to find that it is not providing them with anything valuable, chances are they won’t stick around. You’ve got to provide content that matters to your readers. Think about the websites you have bookmarked on your browser’s toolbar. Why do you keep going back to them? Because they are giving you incredibly useful information that you rely on.
So, you get the point. Now, let’s dig a little deeper into what value even means.
Value as it pertains to blog content translates to information that your reader can use to improve some aspect of their lives. There are plenty of ways to provide value. Here are just a few:
Tips and tricks. This is the best way to turn an average, bland blog post into something awesome, useful, and shareable. Say you’re writing a product review for a coconut oil brand. Instead of simply writing a product review and sharing what you did and/or did not like about the product, make the blog post more about the benefits of coconut oil, and naturally insert your partnered brand into the content. Now you’re providing actionable items that your readers can take with them.
A few other examples of boring to awesome:
- Don’t: My Weekend in New York City
- Do: 5 Coffee Shops You’ve Got to Try in NYC
- Don’t: Product Review: Cuisinart Food Processor
- Do: 7 Recipes to Make in Your Food Processor
As your audience grows and becomes connected to you, it becomes more acceptable to share bits of your life and ‘weekend happenings’. We recommend, as far as actual blog content goes (versus social media), keeping this to a 90:10 ratio. 90% of your content is valuable information, 10% is about you and your life. As for specifically food bloggers, the lines become a bit blurred. Your recipes are the value you’re providing, so while it’s great to add in even more value with your copy, it’s totally fine to share tidbits about your life in your copy, too.
Add something extra. When you’re writing a blog post, or have just finished one, we recommend asking yourself “how can I add even more value to this?” This is where adding a ‘product’ comes in. These are some different ways you can add quick, freebie products to your posts:
- Printable document. This is the most obvious of them all. Adding a quick, free download for your audience is a great way to add even more value to your post. Plus, you can add in a signup form to your email list so your readers have to subscribe to your email to have access to the free download. Now, what the heck kind of document do you share?! Let’s get a little more specific with examples for different types of bloggers:
- Food bloggers: meal plan template, recipe card template, grocery list, a graphic for ‘in-season’ foods + a recipe, a weekly meal plan (not just a template), an eBook, a tutorial
- Health/fitness bloggers: a workout plan, a diet evaluation sheet (for anyone certified), an eBook for diet/weight loss, a nutrition plan, an inspirational iPhone wallpaper, eBook for how to become a personal trainer/instructor/dietician
- Audio/Video: Adding a bit of audio or video aspect to your content is just an extra oomph of value. The reason we added audio coverage to our Instagram eCourse was because we know that people learn in different ways. Different people require different ways to grab attention. Adding other realms to your content can appeal to different types of people.
Tutorials. Think about the different things that you know how to do, that someone else might not. Something I always think about, for myself, is making espresso. So many people, mainly in America, don’t know how to make their own espresso. This is something that comes second nature to me, that I grew up with, but could be a great option for a tutorial as many people lack that knowledge. Just because it’s something you might have grown up knowing or feel is ‘obvious’ doesn’t mean that nobody is searching for it.
You can even start basic. Food bloggers: not everybody is an expert home chef like yourself. Think about things like ‘how to chop an onion’, ‘how to meal prep for the week’, ‘how to cut an artichoke’. It’s great to house these types of tutorials on your website because as soon as someone arrives, they see that you know your stuff, and are already proving that you provide value.
Challenge: next time you go to write a blog post, see how you can spin it into a tutorial. Think about how your content can provide actionable value. For instance, when I wrote my orthorexia story for my blog, I didn’t want to just tell my story, I wanted to share how I overcame that battle. This way, people are not just relating to me, but if they are going through something similar, they are being given valuable tips to help them, too.
Related: 3 Ways to Create Shareable Content
It’s the Little Things.
Believe it or not, the littlest things on your blog could be sending potential readers for the hills. The blogging journey is full of experiments and lessons learned. What works for some people might not work for others, but it’s always worth the experiment.
Thus, there are a few minor tweaks that could be playing a larger role than you realize:
- You’ve got too many ads. Pop-up ads, sidebar ads, in-post ads – too many of this is a total turn off when reading any website, really. See how you can get rid of some of these to improve the reader experience.
- Your website is slow. This is, a lot of times, in direct correlation with how many ads you have. Ads are a super drag and can definitely slow your website down. Additionally, images that have not been compressed, and having too many plugins are both culprits to slow websites.
- Your design has too much going on. When it comes to website design, simple is best. Make sure your website doesn’t have too many twists, turns, colors, fonts, or else it will take away from the awesome content you’re providing!
- Your photos need help. Sorry – tough love here! A lot of the blogging world, mainly food blogging, relies on attractive photos. If you’re sharing a recipe and the photo of the meal is unattractive, it’s not very enticing for others to make it, right? We recommend investing in a camera for beautiful food photography. It made a huge difference in both of our blogs!
The overall gist of what we’ve discussed is that in order to gain readership, you need to put the reader first. Who is your reader, what are they looking for, how can you help them, how can you make their experience pleasant? The three tiers of blogging that we believe facilitate growth are value, focus, and collaboration. Constantly keep those three things in mind, and you’ll do just fine!