Every now and then I get random strangers asking me why nobody reads their blog. My first question is usually “who are you?” followed by going to their blog. Started in 1996, updated on Jun 3rd 2003, April 5th 2005 and then twice on July 14th, 2007.
Here is the secret to relevance: consistency. If you are going to blog you need to get over your ego – just because you write something doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it. And take my word for it – most people still do not use RSS feeds. The ones that do will likely never show up in your statistics so your numbers will only reflect the actual people that visit your blog using a web browser like Firefox and Internet Explorer. If they like what they see, they will come back later in the day, tomorrow, next week. If every time they hit it they get the same stuff, they will not come back. At least not every-now-and-never.
So that is problem #1, if you aren’t going to blog regularly you might as well not do it at all.
If you do choose to keep the updates regularly (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly) make sure your audience is aware of it and is not constantly downloading the same stuff. When I’ve taken even a few days off (even including weekends) my audience dropped off 30-50% for the following two weeks.
There are also other great ways to shoot yourself in the foot with blogging and alienate your readers:
- No easy way to subscribe to RSS feeds
- Insulting your readers by pointing out their flaws, regardless of best intentions.
- Siding with your audiences enemies; this works both ways though, the Howard Stern syndrome.
- Partial RSS feeds – do not make me click on a link to read your post or I will remove you from my RSS reader
- Offtopic blog posts; unless your audience knows you they will not want to know about your life.
- Impersonal posts – blog posts are about your opinion, we all know you’re not a reporter and we are willing to bet you aren’t breaking the story. So don’t bother reprinting press releases unless there is something truly insightful there that will not be covered by the trade press for months.
- Don’t be a fanboy.
- Don’t lock the content more than two clicks away. Anything opt-in, password protected, members only, secret handshake, etc is not going to be looked at.
Those are just the general off the top of my head remarks and you can be tremendously successful in spite of all of the above. But if you’re wondering why nobody is reading your blog or how come your audience isn’t growing… review 1-8 and make sure you’re not missing anything obvious.
Failing that, it’s probably just your personality. Here is something to start you off in your blogging success: Pick a new release of a dominant Microsoft product and do a “Top 10 reasons nobody will upgrade to SBS 2008” and submit it to digg.com. Presto, you’ll piss off Susan and she’ll blog about you, bringing the entire SMB population with her to your blog.